Playing a bagpipe?
How on earth does someone come up with that idea?
I have always found it a fascinating instrument. Mysterious too, almost magical. Now I come from an nature environment calls ‘t Gooi, with its waving fields and woods. Wandering through them, especially in autumn, you soon find yourself in a mystic mood. In particular, when, in 1986 during a bicycle tour around Hilversum near the recreation area of “Anns Hoeve”, where several pipe bands played their tunes.
Later it appeared that this was a yearly contest. A competition for bagpipes and drums. There was also a stand from the Beatrix pipe band from Hilversum. I was “captured” by the music that I first gathered information and then joined. A strong issue was the fact that I had no musical gene and probably would never learn how to play. However, Dirk de Lange and Gert-Jan Achterberg of the Beatrix Pipe Band ensured me that this would not necessarily that this need not be a dilemma or problem to learn to play the bagpipe. It would even be an advantage not having played any other instrument before.
Each Friday and Saturday evening I rode to the Langestraat in Hilversum and followed my lessons there and to show my progress. After 9 months I was handed over my bagpipe and was able to play pretty well and it was time to make more progress. A real advantage at that time was that I was studying in Wageningen and was able to use the college hall to practice, this at the disparity of the cleaning staff.
Finally, I was able and allowed to take part in the parade performances in full dress. You would normally play for about 20 minutes, the have a break, strip and change into a dry T shirt and make ready for the next performance. I have performed on television in a show called Nederland Muziekland with the BZN band and for Veronica television in a program with “ Tineke on Saturday”.
I had to stop in 1990 when I was drafted for my military duty, as there was no time left to practice and play.
In 2013 I was at an Irish fair in Enkhuizen where I met Douwe Witsen who manned the Arthur Troop Pipes and Drums stand. We started talking and I was given a flyer with information of the band. If I was interested I was welcome… he said. But immediately I started to practice and within no time had the ability to play the essential notes etc.
I sometimes compare it to bicycle riding and ice skating… once you have learned it you never lose the capability. The only thing I still need to pick up is counting the notes. I know the tunes and I play them by heart. The Arthur Troop is a great bunch of people who make the band and simulate each other. During our performances we all feel the unity of our team in which values are accepted. Their motto is Muziko per Amikeco, which means Playing music through friendship.
The youngest member of the band is currently 10 years old, so there is hardly no age limit either. After each performance I am still filled with passion and will let off steam by playing a few tunes solo.
Erwin van Breemen.