Published: July 14, 2008

The world seems old and new

Look at me!The new system we’re using for the pipes|drums Poll allows for much more accurate results, since it’s a one-address, one-vote mechanism, meaning that folks can’t – for whatever pathetic reason – stuff the ballot box.

Over the hundreds of previous polls, I’d never thought to try to find out what age people were when they took up the pipes or drum. Two things surprised me about the results: 1) that more than a third of learners started when they were younger than 10, and 2) that a full 12 per cent started when they were older than 21. I didn’t think either response would be so large. 

I started when I was 11, and so am with the 31 per cent who began when they were 10, 11 or 12 years old. But 12 out of every 100 pipers and drummers taking up the instrument as adult learners? That’s amazing.

But, then again, if you take a look at the North American lower-grade solo competitions you will see that kind of a ratio, with people in their 40 and 50s and even 60s competing against very young kids. At first it looks kind of wrong, but perhaps that diversity also makes things interesting. I doubt that there are many arts that pit senior citizens against grade-schoolers.

I noticed at a piping and drumming school recently that most students were either kids or retired. There weren’t many in between. It perhaps further supports the notion that the demography of taking up the pipes or drum is very much for the very young or the very old. I wonder why.

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