June 09, 2014

Inspirational wall

A wall of images of pipers and drummers who have done extraordinary things.

Every one of us was inspired to start playing, and every one of us should have inspiration to keep playing.

Inspiration can come from anywhere, and for everyone it’s a different set of circumstances. It could be an innate competitive instinct. Inspiration can come from your parents, or from a friend who motivates you to play on. It could be from the thrill of pressure and the adrenaline and endorphins released in competition or on stage.

I’m inspired by many sources to keep at it. The music itself is certainly inspirational: the thrill of chasing technical and musical excellence, to constantly get better, to learn new tunes.

I have always been inspired by the playing of others. The great players who came before and who I’ve been fortunate enough to hear, or even compete with.

The photo is of a wall in my basement office / practice space. On the wall are the covers of each of the print magazines that I put together, from 1988 until going all-online in 2008. Each of the covers features someone whom I personally admire and from whom I am inspired.

P-M Angus MacDonald. Murray Henderson, Ronnie Lawrie. Bill Livingstone. Ian Duncan. Tom Speirs.

Whenever I practice or teach a lesson or write something like this, I gain impetus to continue, to strive to reach the lofty abilities and contributions that these folks achieved in their careers.

Donald Shaw-Ramsay. Jim McGillivray. Jack Taylor. Andrew Wright. Donald MacPherson.

All of them made – and many still make – extraordinary contributions to the art, whether it was the elevation of playing standards, creative compositions, business ingenuity, academic research, or any number of things that merited an exclusive interview.

John Burgess. Bob Worrall. Tom Brown. Seumas MacNeill. Wilson Young. J.K. McAllister.

The wall of course has carried on figuratively with many more cover story interviews via the online publication, accessible to far more people in many more places. The faces of these many interview subjects are a constant inspiration to me.

Iain MacLellan. Jim Kilpatrick. Ken Eller. James Troy. John Wilson. Tom McAllister . . . many more.

I highly recommend having your own inspirational images of great pipers and drummers to motivate you even more to practice, compose, teach or any other beneficial thing you might be doing with the art.


  1. Couldn’t agree more. One of the great things about going to Jim McMillan’s basement for lessons was his wall of photos, and the stories and inspiration that went with them. In my teaching space at the Conservatory in Regina, I have the walls, window sill and desktop filled with images of great players past and present, and I often refer to them to give context to tunes, tune names, composers. Understanding and appreciating the human connections makes it all seem a little more real, especially at 7pm on a dark February night in Saskatchewan.

  2. I am amazed at the composition variances available to drummers worldwide now and past. I really am refreshed to see young snare drummers still taking the time to learn classic snare scores available from old books and handwritten scores from 1960s-70s. The enlightened years, I would call them. I also like the fact that those same young drummers are taking those experiences and creating their own versions for themselves and corps. It creates a wonderfully creative venue for a otherwise tame craft. Cheers to all those that venture into this area. Keep on creating.



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