Drummers Leading: our video panel with three of the world’s greatest LDs – Part 3
We conclude our three-part exclusive discussion with three of the greatest drummers in the world and their insights and advice to you in this time of pandemic and pipe band inactivity for most of the pipe band world.
ScottishPower’s Jake Jørgensen, Eric MacNeill of City of Dunedin, and Steven McWhirter of reigning World Champions Inveraray & District speak with a view from the percussion side of the band.
In this closing segment, we ask what each leader has learned or realized over the last year, if the pandemic has permanently changed the way pipe bands operate, and their best advice to other lead-drummers and corps drummers going through the same situation.
Each of them provides just as much, if not even more, clarity, honesty and frankness that we heard from our Pipe-Majors Forum of Chris Armstrong, Alan Bevan and Alen Tully in early December.
Originally from Herlev, Denmark, Jake Jørgensen started learning the drums at the age of 11 with the Copenhagen Caledonia Pipe Band and, in the early years, received instruction from local drummers Per Nørklit, Sven Harboe and Jens Hedegaard. He moved to Scotland in early 2000 to join Shotts & Dykehead Caledonia and the great L-D Jim Kilpatrick’s drum section. Over 12 years with Shotts, he won the World’s twice (’03, ’05), World Pipe Band Drumming four times (’02, ’03, ’05, ’14), and the other four major championships (band and drumming) several times over. Jørgensen became lead-drummer of ScottishPower in late 2014, and since then, the band’s drumming (and the band) has featured almost every time in the lists at the majors. His corps won the Scottish Championships in 2019. He’s placed third in the World Solo Drumming Championships twice, and is now a full-time drumming instructor at George Heriot’s School in Edinburgh, and lives with his young family in Kirknewton, Scotland.
Eric MacNeill is one of the most accomplished American pipe band drummers in history. A native of New York, he was lead-drummer with Oran Mor from 2000 to 2012, helping to take the band from Grade 2 to Grade 1 over that time, including the band making the World’s Grade 1 Final in 2011. After Oran Mor dissolved, he joined Grade 1 Simon Fraser University of Vancouver for four seasons. MacNeill became the lead-drummer of the then Grade 2 City of Dunedin of Florida in 2016, where he is a full-time drumming instructor in the Gulf Coast town’s extensive pipe band teaching system in the public schools. With MacNeill’s help, the band won Grade 2 at the North American Championships at Maxville, Ontario, in 2016 and 2018, and a few days later, the same grade at the World Championships. The success catapulted City of Dunedin Grade 1, and the band won the North American Championship in 2019, with plans to compete at the World’s in 2020 before the pandemic scuttled the event. MacNeill has been a finalist in the World Solo Drumming Championships in 2018 and 2019. In addition to teaching throughout North America, he was president of the Eastern United States Pipe Band Association from 2010 to 2014 and is a current EUSPBA Music Board member.
With 10 World Solo Drumming Championships and multiple major championship drumming titles, including the World’s in 2017, Steven McWhirter, at age 37, is one of the greatest pipe band drummers of all time. Originally from Northern Ireland, he lives in Falkirk, Scotland, with his young family and works as a drumming instructor at Edinburgh Academy and Dollar Academy. He began drumming in 1993 with lessons from his father, and within a year, joined the local Grade 1 Cullybackey, getting instruction from Adrian Hoy until 2001. In 2002, McWhirter started his six-year membership with Simon Fraser University, winning the World Championship both as a band and drum corps. In 2004, he began his relationship with the town of Inveraray and the surrounding Argyll area teaching pipe band drumming. With Pipe-Major Stuart Liddell, McWhirter helped create the beginnings of the reigning World Champion band with which he’s lead-drummer today. He teaches throughout the world at workshops and online, with all of his numerous students connecting digitally since March of last year. McWhirter has gained PDQB Level 6, Pipe Band Musicianship Level 1 certificates with the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association.
pipes|drums sat down with these three greats of the games on January 29, 2021, to hear their thoughts about the challenges and opportunities of the last year, what it might take to get back at it, and some of the positives that they have learned through the cancellation of the 2020 and, quite possibly, 2021.
Our thanks to Jake Jørgensen, Eric MacNeill and Steven McWhirter for taking the time to be so willing to share their candid views with an eye to adding to the discussion and helping the pipe band scene overall.
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Young Composers’ Forum – four leading lights share insights – Part 1
January 19, 2021
Young Composers’ Forum – four new leading lights – Part 2
January 21, 2021