It all started one hot summer day in August of 2006, when I saw a movie that would completely change my life--The Longest Day, made in the 1960’s, starring John Wayne. In the final scenes of the movie, out walks a Scottish piper, followed by his brigade. I was mesmerized by the enchanting sounds and the exotic look of the bagpipes that the piper played.
It was no longer than a week, when I had informed my mother that I wanted to learn to play the Great Highland Bagpipes. My mother was almost sure that she would have to drive me half way across Texas to find someone to teach me, but after a quick online search, we were both thrilled to find Jimmy Mitchell, a top of the line professional piper who offered private lessons in my very own hometown of Forney, Tx.
It wasn’t long before I got the required learning materials--a beginner’s book and a practice chanter, and was taking lessons with Jimmy once a week. The fingering and learning to read music was very difficult, especially since this was my very first instrument, but I kept at it, and on Christmas of 2006, I received my very own set of bagpipes.
From that point, Jimmy began teaching me more advanced steps on the bagpipes and before long he even asked me if I would be interested in competing in a solo contest out of town. No sooner had the question been asked, did I accept the offer. My very first solo contest took place at the Houston Highland Games in Houston, Tx in the Spring of 2007. Although I did not place that day, I did get the privilege of competing as well as exposure to other pipers and to performing. I continued to compete all over Texas and in neighboring states such as Louisiana and Arkansas for the following years. Not only was I competing and medaling, but I was now getting jobs as a referral from Jimmy.
In early 2008, I was accepted into a local Dallas pipes and drums band, The North Texas Caledonian Pipes & Drums. I enjoyed years of being involved with the band, performing in local events, such as The State Fair of Texas and The North Texas Irish Festival. I also competed in a band contest in Stone Mountain, Ga. School, work, and a hectic schedule, though, finally caught up with me, and I turned in my band gear in early 2011, saying my goodbyes. In a local solo contest in Dallas, a few members of The Silver Thistle Pipes & Drums from Austin, Tx overheard me performing and offered for me to accompany the band and compete in Glasgow, Scotland in the summer of 2011 at The Worlds Pipe Band Championships. Scotland completely introduced me to new concepts of band and solo piping, making me want to strive further on in my piping journey.
In the spring of 2012, I was accepted to Lyon College in Batesville, Ar and transfered there from a Dallas community college. During my time at Lyon, I competed in many solo contests around the United States in places such as Florida, South Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, and Missouri. I earned two degrees, one in English and the other in Music, minoring in the Scottish Arts. I recieved world class instruction from PM Jimmy Bell, advancing significantly in the solo piping ranks and in December of 2014, I graduated.
I now find myself back in Forney, still very active in piping. I continue to compete as a soloist, play for events calling for a piper, and I offer lessons over Skype or in person.