Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Mission and Goals


To promote and enhance bagpipe music through educational funding and partnership.

The goals and objectives of the Society are:

• Strive to encourage the development of Scottish bagpiping
• To promote and assist individual Highland bagpipers through educational funding and partnerships
• Development of youth programs supporting Highland bagpiping locally, nationally, and internationally
• Encourage greater appreciation of bagpiping heritage.
• To offer education scholarships and bursaries for bagpipe students to use for private lessons, workshops, and piping schools, and travel to major events.
• To assist with the achievement of pre determined goals globally.
• To work in partnership with some of the summer schools to “double up” on some tuition scholarships.
• To apply a “pay it forward” (clause) so the recipient can give back in some way to their community Eg: Free lesson(s) to some other students, free performance at a seniors home? Volunteering their musical skills or performance ability to help another cause.

The Background Story

Bruce Gandy has been a professional bagpipe competitor for almost 35 years and a full-time professional bagpipe player and teacher for 14 years. This doesn’t come by chance, it comes by hard work and a great deal of opportunity.

As a child in a family of eight, Bruce did not grow up in a financially priviledged lifestyle, but he did grow up among a group of very passionate pipers led by his father, Ray Gandy. When Bruce needed to get to events, competitions, parades or piping schools, there always seemed to be someone there who could take him along and make sure he got to the events. They all knew somehow that this would end up being a big part of his life one day.

“To name certain individuals and leave others out would not be fair at all as it was the greater sum of all of these people that helped me get to where I am today” says Bruce. Bruce’s father was a great supporter of piping and especially took note of the young kids coming up. He volunteered at the Vancouver Island Pipers Club from it’s inception right up until his early passing in 1976, as well as lending support to any other causes in the Victoria area that were piping related. “It took me many years to realize, how much all of these other people really did for me. ” In the spring of 2010, Bruce decided that it was time to do something to help others and this was how the Bruce Gandy Bagpiping Development Society was started.

A series of events led Bruce to awake one day with a very clear thought. All the events had now come full circle in my mind, from playing myself, to raising a son who is a top piper, to really seeing how difficult it is for some people to be able to follow a passion.” The concern was why are there no foundations set up under the names of some of the other great pipers in the world just now? Did they not think of it or did they figure you had to be deceased first, or was it just because, generally speaking, piping is not a rich man's game?

“I’ve been blessed since my early piping days to have tremendous instruction, incredible opportunities to play with top bands, travel the world to perform, compete, judge, and compete and have been given much help along the way, and I need to do what I can now to help others achieve some of these goals.”

Once Bruce had a clear idea of what he wanted to achieve with a new society, he started on the main project of trying to raise a large, ongoing scholarship endowment.

How you can help.

With limited funding from government and resources being cut to the arts all the time, it takes individuals who are both bold and passionate to step up and help so that the Bruce Gandy Bagpiping Development Society can exist, helping pipers locally, nationally and internationally to achieve their goals. There are several ways to make donations, cash, cheque, paypal through your account or visa. Make cheques payable to Bruce Gandy Bagpiping Development Society.

If you would like to discuss how you can help, or have ideas for the Society, please contact Bruce through this web site

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Seattle school

Well, the past two weeks have been very busy here in Halifax, with extra work meetings, trying to get ready for the Metro Cup in New Jersey this weekend and trying to fit in the lessons from all the skype people. Scheduling can be tough at times with all the time zones involved, but a great collaborative effort on both sides usually makes these work out okay.

I was suppose to be at Seabeck, Washington on February 3rd for the Celtic Arts Foundation, Winter School, a true highlight of the year for me
but circumstances that came up made it impossible for me to attend at the last minute which was disappointing but my wonderful cast of students sent this little picture to me which was very uplifting, and thank you John Courtney for arranging that.

The Skype family continues to grow, I try to share stories from one student to another and hope to get a bit of a newsletter going once again as I am the one that truly benefits with all the different friendships and knowledge I get from all the players. keep up the hard work gang and thanks for the support! You're hard work has inspired me in another way that i hope to let you all in on soon.


Monday, December 28, 2009

The Captain

Well, it's just after Christmas and Bruce Gandy Music is back in full swing today. A few people had opportunity with days off or school out to get a chance and I have a couple of free days here before traveling up to Ontario for the New Year so I figured I'd make some time and teach a few hours here and there. Besides , it keeps me out of the crazy stores for now with all the boxing day madness.

As I searched around a few of the websites that I often frequent, I was back onto the Captains corner and it got me to thinking. I remember the captain making a post last year about my trip to Hawaii , a how life must be good yada yada yada so I thought it only right to honor him back after his recent excursion to the Caribean. Just in case you were getting a little soft Captain , or thought that perhaps I was for giving you a hard time about your trip, I"ll post a couple of wee photo's that I've downloaded. Down here in the Maritimes, we're a pretty tough group and while you were on your cruise ship sipping marguerita's etc, It was my son Alex's 21st Birthday here and being that our rule for the birthdays is for the person to choose what to eat, Alex chose his favorite,,,,,,Bar B Que steaks so your's truly was out grilling in the minus 5 weather with the flurries coming and going. Of course, a nice pint of Kilkenny helped out in dealing with the elements and with the timing so as not to burn things. Then it was a sit down for a couple of tunes and a good night for us all later. Well, it must be time to get ready for the next student. Back to you soon.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

33 years later

Well, it's December 20th and I have awoken to realize that it's now 33 years since my dad passed. Each year, I generally take an hour or so and go off by myself to a pub or a lounge and just sit and think. I quietly recite many of the thoughts of the year,think about my family and what went on in the piping arena once again.

My father was a huge supporter of all things piping, from helping the kids to enjoying listening to the best tunes from the top open players. I find it to be very good therapy to do this each year. Just going away on my own and sitting and thinking, often giving my dad a hard time and practically yelling at him under my breath for not being around and missing all of this. It's a tough couple of days until I go out for my therapeutic session but i"m always glad I do.

Wish he was still around, he only got to see me perform as a grade one amateur but he did get to see me play with the grade one band City of Victoria. It's all relative though really, had he not passed away, my life would be completely different, I may not have ever met my wife, or have the two children that are changing the world in their own way, as every person does. So, it is what it is and I'll just continue to take my couple of hours each Dec 20 to remember, what is, what could have been, what should have been and hopefully, can end up back at the beginning with what is a current reality.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

year end and congrats

Well, it’s coming up for the end of the calendar year and there is so much that can be talked about I don’t know where to start. Instead of just thinking of all that we should have or could have done over the past year, I think we’ll just look to the future.

I’m very excited about the music program here. I am always working on ways to better serve all the students and the customers of brucegandymusic. One such item that will be coming up in the early New Year is the music collection which will now be available on CD. This is an easy to read PDF form E-book with ease of navigation and all of the tunes from the 4th volume of contemporary and traditional music right there on your computer screen so you can practice with ease while sneaking a break at work if you like. Also, for the new year, I am hoping to have it all recorded as well as many people have requested to have all the tunes in mp3 form. I now have the new finale 2010 music writing program but even though I used older versions previously, this one seems to have quite a learning curve, but we’re working away typesetting the older tunes as well as lots of new tunes coming.

I hope, perhaps will feature some in the near future as I have quite a stack of traditional tunes in the ¾ , 4/4 and easier march type tunes . The tunes for commission part of the site has been very busy and I have tried to fill the orders but sometimes, producing a quality tune that can hopefully stand the test of time is just not easy, but we’ll manage with a bit more time. Where ever your piping travels take you over the next year, I hope they are more rewarding and successful than the last.

Finally, a very proud day for me this year recently on November 21st as I had 3 students out of an invited 10 playing for the top amateur prize in piping at the George Sherriff Memorial Contest in Hamilton. This was a great day of piping that I enjoyed with my long time friend Ken Eller. He kept busy most of the day recording the contest for the archives from up in his own special place at the church. Finally, I am happy that I decided to go up to hear and more happy that I will have the memory of the contest and the picture of these three young men to remember it by. This picture and is now up on my bulletin board at the office showing off my students, Richard Gillies ( holding the presentation set of pipes) Chris Lee and Thomas Harrington. All the players played well and I know that these three put in a tremendous effort to be ready for the day. This is what makes our art form so good and shows a very positive future ahead of us

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Glenfiddich 2009

Well, I’ve been back home for a week now from Scotland after this, my third trip to Scotland and I am taking a well deserved break to rest my arms for a while. What an experience! I have been ever so fortunate to now play at the Glenfiddich 7 times and it never ceases to amaze me each time. On the one hand, it is as stressful as it gets and this is driven by two main factors. 1st, the obvious prestige of the championship, but secondly, the way that you are treated is second to none and you just feel you have to do everything possible to perform your best for this knowledgeable and enthusiastic crowd. My wife, Beverley, came along once again which is very good for me and we had a wonderful stay with our god friends Roddy and Margaret MacLeod for the first couple of days. Their hospitality is always appreciated as it makes the trip seem more like home. On the Friday evening, we traveled up to the Pitlochry to the Athol Palace, the host hotel and that is where everyone gathers for the evening meal and our tunes are selected and given to us as we nervously chat over drink. This is one of the only contests where you are not likely to see a competitor out much after 11pm as it seems that everyone gets their tunes, and then scurries up to their rooms to have a last minute check over the music to make sure that we have all the right notes in order.

The next day starts with all the competitors gathered at Blair Athol Castle at 9am where we take a photo and then commence with the draw for order of play, a very fair way of doing it. This year luck was on my side as I was 8th on and 9 on respectively which was much better than playing first on in the Piob last year as the great hall tends to be cold still and it generally has adverse effects on the pipes.

This is not going to be a play by play of the event, you all know how the day went after that, it’s just to give you a little taste of the lead up and a forum for me to publicly thank Liz Maxwell and the whole Glenfiddich team for the outstanding job they do in making you feel both comfortable and very special. There is definitely nothing like this anywhere else. I would also be remiss not to publicly thank the United States Piping foundation who I represented this year and their funding for the trip, so thanks to Mac and all the gang there, see you next June.

There were several highlights during the weekend for me but for the big memory, I have to say this: When you are just trying to do your best to get through the events and hopefully play a nice tune and perhaps the greatest competitor ever, Donald MacPherson and his extremely knowledgeable wife Gwen actually come to you and tell you they really enjoyed your playing, well, to me, that’s what it’s all about and I felt very honored with that. I can only say here that if you ever get the chance to go to the Glenfiddich. Do not pass this up and do not pass up the evening dinner/celidh it will most likely be one of the great piping highlights of your life.

Friday, October 23, 2009

finding enough players in a small market

The piping season is barely over, especially in the EUSPBA and there is a mad scavenger hunt going on to try to find new players, keep your old players and get ready for the new season. I find this year to be especially challenging. We are losing players, and gaining some but with the AGM coming up this weekend for our band, I am not finding the same excitement level as usual and probably will not until I arrive and see who IS playing and staying and who is not. While a person certainly has free will to come and go as they please, I just find the whole band "business" turning into a real band Business now, much like sports teams with not much loyalty but more of a where's the next best thing. Perhaps, the fact that I have only played in 4 bands in my 40 years of piping, 3 of which were running the grade 3 band where I worked at the College at PEI, it just feels odd that many people don't seem to stay for more than a year or two with any band, and it makes it tough for the band to really keep their "musical personality".

I too have toyed with changing bands. Teaching piping full time, the idea of being able to study tunes on my own, and just come to one or two practices during the full off season, then arrive to play and hopefully help that band out in competition seem pretty inviting, especially for us northern people who just want to go anywhere to get away, sometimes even another cold place just for the change in scenery, but for now, at least this week, I think I am staying put.

I can honestly say that I have had several offers to play elsewhere which leads me to the dilemna here in that while I don't like that so many people are always changing bands, I'm now out there "poaching" away as good as I can and feel like a hypocrite for it. But, for the band to survive and be able to compete against the others, I feel this is now the only way. I could sit back and not try to stir up interest but the band size, especially in a very small market like Halifax would just have a tough time growing. Here’s hoping that the plus side out weighs the minus side on the personnel side of things this season.