Listen up, and the music of Scotland is with ye.
Residents in the Shorecrest High area of Shoreline know the sounds: bagpipe music and drum rolls wafting through the evening air.
It’s practice time for the Northwest Junior Pipe Band, which includes three Bothell drummers, a bagpiper and a drum director. On a recent visit to the Thursday gathering, the 50-member band was preparing to compete at the Pacific Northwest Highland Games in Enumclaw two days later.
“It’s a good way to show your heritage,” Taylor Wood, a 17-year-old Bothell piper said of playing the tunes.
Added Marcie MacRae, a 30-year-old Bothell High graduate and drum coach: “With the kids, it’s nothing but pride to watch other people enjoy it the way I did when I was growing up.”
On an even bigger scale that night, the band had its sights set on Scotland. Yesterday, the kilt-wearing kids, which range in age from 9-18, boarded a plane for the land of rockers Big Country, poet Robert Burns and “Harry Potter” author J.K. Rowling to test their mettle at the World Pipe Band Championships in Glasgow.
The grade-four (grade one is the highest) Northwest band, which won the state title at the recent Skagit Valley Highland Games, is the only U.S. group slated to perform in Glasgow during the Aug. 16 event.
Bothell side drummer Katie Hadley, 15, is bringing her mom along to Scotland to enjoy the scenery and music.
“We have always gone to the Highland Games when I was a kid. I just fell in love with the music,” Hadley said with a nod of the head. “I’ve always been interested in drumming … it’s great to be able to make music with everyone together playing just one note.”
Wood has been listening to Scottish music for many years and says the pipes both sound good and provide a workout.
“It’s physically demanding. You’ve got to have a lot of air, have really good lungs. And you have to be able to keep your arms steady,” he said. “A lot of people don’t know what it is, but when I’ve taken my pipes to school, a lot of people think it’s cool.”
For MacRae, her history with Scottish music goes back 30 years (“I was born into this, it was just spoonfed to you” she said), and her family’s involvement even further. Her great-grandfather started the Washington Scottish Pipe Band in the late 1800s and her father was the pipe major for 27 years.
“My parents put me in the middle of the circle, and I’d fall asleep as an infant,” she said of her first memories of Scottish music.
She added with a laugh of her later participation: “People in the Canyon Park area can probably remember us practicing.”
MacRae said that the quality of the musicians and competitions have become stronger over the years. Hadley agreed, noting that she and her bandmates were nervous at first during the state event, but then “blew through it” to take the crown.
“Everything kind of fell into place, and it’s just you and the corp out there — and no one else,” she said.
Bothell sisters Cheyenne and Lochlynn Camp, both drummers, are looking forward to performing and checking out the castles in Scotland. Cheyenne, 14, is a grade-four snare drummer while Lochlynn, 9, is a grade-five tenor. While Cheyenne will compete in the championships, Lochlynn will pound away in the non-competitive “mass band” showcase.
The Camps use the words “nervous,” “exciting” and “amazing” when describing the Scotland journey and their experiences with the band.
Sporting a black Avenged Sevenfold T-shirt, Cheyenne says she’s a fan of both Scottish and heavy-metal music. As long as she can drum to the dark and lighter tuneage, she’s on board.
“I can’t read music, so drums are pretty enjoyable for me,” she said. “But I don’t get aggressive (with pipe band) because the drums are pretty precious.”
So, the kids are having fun and they’ve scored a trip to Scotland. But what about the burning question: do they get teased for wearing kilts?
Hadley laughs, and manages to come up with a straight answer: “It’s a little weird (to wear) at first, but it’s like a second outfit because we wear it so much. Friends kind of think it’s dorky at first, but they see the whole aspect of how far we’ve gone.”
All the way to a wee event in Scotland.