In 2012, the Georgetown Pipe Band of Georgetown, Ontario, was nearing total collapse. Despite having just celebrated their seventieth anniversary, the band was on its last legs, with only a handful of pipers and a bass drummer remaining after a mass-exodus of an entire snare drum section.
But instead of calling it quits, the nucleus of players, including Pipe-Major David Stewart, decided to rebuild. They invested their time and talent in a teaching program, advertising in regional publications to attract interest young learners.
According to band spokesman Ron Hall the response was immediately overwhelming, and “much greater than anyone had dared imagine.” More than a dozen aspiring pipers and drummers immediately applied, and the band secured the teaching services of Craig Stewart, David’s brother, who was then playing with the Grade 1 Los Angeles Scots and who is now the Lead-Drummer of the Grade 1 Toronto Police Pipe Band.
Now, in their seventy-fifth anniversary year, the Georgetown Pipe Band has completely rebounded, with more than 15 pipers and a drum section of at least eight. Even though the band, which once competed successfully in Grade 4, voluntarily dropped back to Grade 5, it is enjoying its renaissance. With eight pipers currently in the learner stage the band looks forward to an even brighter future.
In sync with the anniversary, the band is planning several events this year, including a concert/pub night in the fall, when it hopes to have as many past members join the current band on stage.
“We have gone through a tremendous transformation in the last number of years,” Hall said. “2016 was our first year back competing and it was a resounding success. Our results were secondary to the experience all of the new players received and the fun we had as a group. This year is set to be even better and bigger. We will be competing . . . with a pipe corps closing in on 15-16 and a drum corps of close to eight with four tenors. A long way from the humble beginnings [in 2012] of five pipers and a bass drummer.”
At a time when virtually every band struggles to keep numbers up to remain competitive, and many are simply prone to chucking it when things get bleak, Georgetown’s story is one of successfully rebuilding a pipe band from the inside out through patience, perseverance and commitment.
(Note: the nonprofit pipes|drums takes a lot of time, hard work and money to produce original and quality content of journalistic integrity and professionalism. If you have not already, we trust that you will subscribe and encourage others to subscribe so that we can continue to keep you informed and entertained. We don’t sell anything but subscriptions and advertising, all of which go back into the publication. Thanks for reading.)