The World is becoming an increasingly smaller place! We are able to connect with friends and family 12,000 miles away in an instant – digital technology has transformed millions of lives in all four corners of the globe.
The Pipe Band Community has certainly embraced digital technology and brought Scottish music and culture to 1000’s of people globally. A small handful of elite pipe band professionals have emerged and are spreading their wealth of knowledge to students who have Skype on their computer!
I have been teaching pipe band drumming students on Skype for 7 years. Initially people were a little skeptical about it, even my peers and mentors. However, once they witnessed the successful results first-hand they were keen to support my endeavours and some have even dabbled in a little “Digitial Teaching” themselves.
Throughout the years, I have had students from Ireland, Scotland, England, Denmark, Norway, Germany, Singapore, U.S.A., Canada, South America, South Africa and France! It still amazes me that people so far from Scotland, are so passionate about Scottish Music!
I wanted to share a very recent success story with you all!
A young Canadian girl, Kelsey Dougan, attended the Simon Fraser University Pipe Band Summer School, Piping Hot Summer Drummer (founded and established by Don Campbell, my father-in-law, for his son Arran) back in 2008. I was one of the pipe band drumming teachers at Piping Hot Summer Drummer and was approached by Kelsey’s family as they were keen for Kelsey to have a regular drumming instructor. The only issue – she lived in Nanaimo, Vancouver Island! However, this is where skype came to our rescue!
Kelsey started drumming with her local band, Pacific Gael, at the age of nine. Last year, at the age of 15, Kelsey was invited to join the Robert Malcolm Memorial Pipe Band in Vancouver. RMM has been one of the best pipe bands in the World on several occasions. Along with this invitation, Kelsey managed to secure some fantastic solo drumming results.
Kelsey wanted to share a few words with you all :
“For people who don’t have instruction available at their door step it makes it available to them, the lesson is in real time so its like getting a lesson in person. We work on technique and competitive tunes and whatever it is that I need to take my drumming to the next step at that time. The build up to the World Championships this year was really intense before we got to scotland- it was never good enough, and if it was good, it could be better because we were trying so hard to be the absolute best we could; we were trying to win the world championship. During school I was traveling at least once a week to vancouver(10 hour round trip) by myself. Sometimes I would get in to Vancouver at 2am and then get up 4 hours later at 6am to bus out to practice. The week of final exams coincided with a major games so I traveled back and forth in the middle of exams to vancouver 3 times that week. Spent half of my weeks in Vancouver for practices in July. Then when we got to Scotland the hard work was done, but it was game time all the time so it was still super intense. We had to be 100% focused all the time until the worlds.”
I have to say, Kelsey is one of my hardest working students and her commitment to improve is second to none. Our lessons every other week are always full of focus, progress and self-development. Her parents are always supporting and encouraging Kelsey’s passion for pipe band drumming.
Last month,Kelsey went on to win the Grade 3a World Pipe Band Championships as a member of the Robert Malcolm Memorial Pipe Band. I am extremely proud of Kelsey and the whole RMM team.
For those of you who are wondering if Skype tuition really works – I hope this helps you to answer that question.
Where there’s a will, there’s a way!