By Angela Le Quieu, Staff Reporter | Photos By Angela Le Quieu
The bagpipe and drum band Mac-Tire of Sky Pipes and Drums connects with CNM and Celtic heritage through community involvement and performances, Suzanne “Aden” Kemp, Psychology major said, who is the Pipe Major and President for the band.
There are three people in the band who are also part of the CNM community, and the band also plays twice a year at CNM graduations, Kemp said.
“And we’ll keep it, we have CNM pride here,” said Tara O’Mahony, English major, and who is the Drum Major for the band.
Although the band plays at multiple occasions every year, such as Veteran’s Day events in Rio Rancho and Albuquerque and multiple St. Patrick’s Day events, CNM is one of the band’s main supporters, Kemp said.
The bands sponsors and supporters help to cover expenses and allows them to offer free lessons to students who wish to learn how to play the bagpipes, Scottish drums, or to learn about Celtic heritage and the history of bag pipes, O’Mahony said.
“The most good we do is the free lessons we offer,” O’Mahony said.
The lessons are offered on Thursdays from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Hope of Cross located at 6104 Taylor Ranch Rd NW church and more details can be found at their website mactireofskye.webs.com, O’Mahony said.
The free lessons that they give often help parents who want their kids to have more musical experience, but who go to schools that do not offer music programs, Kemp said.
The band also does educational performances at schools in the community, teaching people about the origins of the bagpipe, Kemp said.
“A lot of people are just drawn to the sound and the feeling they get when they hear bagpipes and drums,” Kemp said.
Chef Carmine Russo, Culinary Arts instructor, who is also in the band, said that his wife was interested in bagpipes, but that it was not until he saw a pipe band play at a TVI graduation that he got interested.
During Russo’s early years with TVI, he and another teacher were trying to get other teachers to attend graduation, and for him, one of the main reasons to go to the graduation ceremony was to see the bagpipes played at the end, he said.
There was one teacher at the time who was not interested in going to hear the bagpipes because her husband was in the band, and it was that teacher who told him about free bagpipe lessons being offered and how he could start learning to play, Russo said.
“I had never heard of free lessons, nobody gives free lessons, I’m saying you’re kidding, and she said no it’s free, you have to buy a practice chanter and a book and they’ll get you started,” Russo said.
Currently there are 40 different kinds of bagpipes around the world, Kemp said.
Another part of the band’s connection to Scotland comes in the tartan kilts that are a part of their uniforms, the tartan that they use is the Ancient Urquhart which comes from a clan near Loch Ness in Scotland, Kemp said.
“The Irish have what they call a saffron kilt which is a solid color, but the Scots have the tartan and I hate to call it plaid, but people call it plaid; plaid is when there is no name assigned to it, no anything assigned to it, it’s just like a made up tartan,” Kemp said.
A tartan belongs to a clan or a family, O’Mahony said.
Pipe bands like Mac- Tire of Skye are a recent development in the last two hundred years, but drum corps had marched with military regiments,and that military tradition is still with the bands who operate the same whether they are military or civilian, O’Mahony said.
“Before the drummers used to march in front of the pipers when they first started putting pipe bands together and that’s a, us pipers are a little proud for that so now we are in front of the drummers when we march with the military regiment,” Kemp said.