Author Archive


practice makes perfect…

What’s the best way to learn a new skill, such as playing the bagpipes or drums? Multiple hours spent doing the same task over and over is thought to be the optimal strategy – practice makes perfect, as many would say. However, a new study in Current Biology has revealed that varying your training regime, and not making it so repetitive, may actually double the speed at which you learn.

Eighty-six volunteers were recruited by a team of researchers from Johns Hopkins University, and asked to learn a new skill: Moving a cursor around a screen by squeezing a small, touch-sensitive device, rather than using a traditional mouse.

The volunteers were segregated into three groups. The first (the controls) were only given one 45-minute-long training session. The second group were given one training session, then asked to wait six hours before they repeated the same exercise. The third group had the same experience, but their second training session modified the sensitivity of the controlling device, meaning they had to quickly adapt to the new conditions.

The next day, all three groups were asked to repeat the first training session with the original device sensitivity restored. At the end of each group’s sessions, they were scored on how accurately and rapidly they were able to move the cursor around the screen.

Intuitively, one would expect the third group to perform worse than the second group, with the changing parameters of their gaming sessions increasing the overall difficulty of the task. Remarkably, the situation was reversed, and the third group did twice as well by the end of the experiment than the second group did. The control group performed the worst.

What we found is if you practice a slightly modified version of a task you want to master, you actually learn more and faster than if you just keep practicing the exact same thing multiple times in a row,” said lead researcher Pablo Celnik, from Johns Hopkins University, in a statement.

The secret lies in the six-hour gap between training sessions that the groups were given. The memory of their new skill is “consolidated” within the brain during this time period, wherein the neural connections in the brain form and “preserve” the memory. With this memory consolidated, the volunteers could reactivate it during the second training session in order to perform the task with increased ease.

However, these consolidated memories can be modified. Changes to the parameters of a second session practicing any motor skill – attempting a video game level with different obstacles, for example – “reconsolidates” these memories, slightly altering then reinforcing the original neural connections. This allows them to become more adaptive and flexible to future changing conditions.

This explains why the third group performed best in this study. Celnik noted that a massive change in the parameters of the game would not produce the same beneficial effects, however. “The modification between sessions needs to be subtle,” he added.

Although this study tested only one specific skill, its finding could hopefully be applied to many other situations. Amputees could be taught to learn to use their prosthetics more rapidly by using memory reconsolidation techniques, for instance.

From – IFLscience 


getting the right perspective…

We all come into this world for a time, not knowing how short or long the time we have in this life will be. We go about our lives being busy, getting things done, and hopefully having some fun along the way. But when is the last time we really sat down and thought about what we want our mark on this world to be?

We live down in the weeds so much of our lives, entrenched in the little details of things. Being down in the details day in and day out makes it really difficult to see the big picture. In fact it can be almost impossible to really keep things in perspective when you are always living down in the weeds. Lately I’ve been trying to remind myself that you can’t see the flowers when you’re spending too much time down in the weeds.

I think in order to really see the big picture and to really get the right perspective in life you have to stop and ask yourself the question, “What do I want my mark on this world to be?

It’s an intimidating question in some ways. In order to answer it, it requires that we commit ourselves to something fully, because leaving a mark is no small task. In fact, leaving a mark is a huge undertaking that will require tremendous amounts of work and dedication. It will take a willingness to fall down and get back up multiple times along the way. It will require sacrificing things that are good for something that is better. It will require really committing to standing for something and adhering to it even when doing so isn’t fun or easy. But more than anything, making a mark on this world is going to take work and loads of it.

Maybe that’s why we don’t stop and ask the question very often…we don’t want to commit to the answer. But the truth is that by not asking the question and not committing to an answer we are, by default, not to determine our own legacy.  The last thing we should want is to have our lives come to an end and look back and feel like we left no significant mark, or even worse, we left a mark we can’t be proud of. Yet that is the risk we run by not taking time to ask ourselves the question and not committing to an answer.

I for one don’t want to ever look back on this life and have to think to myself, “Dang I wish I would have…” I want to look back on this life and think, “Way to go! Just look at the mark you made and the legacy you left for all those who came after you…

We all could benefit from trying to poke our heads out of the weeds and taking the time to ask ourselves what we want our mark on this world to be. Hopefully we can all come up with our own brilliant answers to that question!

This is our mark.

From Amy Rees Anderson


You belong to something special…

As military members we train for battle. We prepare for emergencies and how to help our communities. Something we can never be ready for is the loss of one of our own to suicide.
Whether you realize it or not, North Carolina has a National Guard and an Air National Guard. Many of these members are out serving your community full time. And just this past week, one of our medical flyers recently took his own life. He was 25, and a father of four.
Wake and District is made up of extraordinary individuals. Many of its members either currently serve or have served in some capacity.
I felt it was important you know about this senseless loss – something we could not prepare for. This is a reminder to watch out for your wingman. The struggle we feel may take time to develop, and we are responsible to each other to help in a time of need.
One of the biggest factors that can contribute to someone who seeks to take their own life is not having a social group.
As you look across at your fellow band-mates when you step into the circle know you belong to something special. You are important and you belong.
Thank you for those of you that serve.
– Natasha Wells


think positive thoughts…

Lack of confidence, gloom and doom, distrust, and anxiety are a toxic cocktail mix. You probably wonder how one person can survive with all that inside them! Yet, these negative people exist all around us and are impossible to avoid.

This is not to say that you will never have moments of despair, anxiety and discouragement. But as a positive person, you never let these thoughts take over your life. You live the four-to-one ratio: You generate four positive thoughts for every negative one, to keep situations from getting out of hand.

Below, you’ll find 15 signs of negative people, and see what makes them tick. You’ll discover why many people are unaware of their negativity and how it is ruining their lives – and everyone else’s. These warning signs will also teach you to be on the alert so that you can avoid falling into the black hole of negativity.

Here are some signs of negative people:

They always worry – Negative people survive on worry – a very unhealthy diet. This mindset is geared towards the need to feel protected and aware to an extreme degree. Practising mindfulness and staying in the present are great ways to squash worry.

 “Whatever is going to happen will happen, whether we worry or not.” – Anna Monnar

They try to tell you what to do – When people start to tell you what you should do with your life, what house to buy or whether you should change your job, you can be sure they are in the negative squad. They do not realize it but this is a sure sign that they have not sorted out their own life issues. It is much easier to tell everyone else how to live their lives!

They live in the default position – There is a neurological explanation as to why some people end up being so negative. It has to do with the part of the brain called the amygdala, which functions as an alarm and is constantly on the look out for danger, fear and bad news. Scientists believe this to be the brain’s default position. In evolutionary terms, this is understandable; it is all part of the fear-flight mechanism in which the brain uses most of its neurons to keep up with all the bad news that is stored in the memory.

Positive people develop an ability to evaluate and face up to problems which can counteract this mechanism.

They enjoy secrecy – If you meet a negative person at a party, you may find the conversation rather tedious. Fearful of revealing too much information about themselves, they live in fear that doing so would be used against them in some way. They rarely think that what they share could be used in a positive light.

If you find yourself becoming defensive and closed during conversation, think about possible reasons why.

They are pessimists  – My mother was the world’s greatest pessimist. Spotting menacing clouds on the way to the beach, she would invariably say that the best of the day had gone. (I cannot remember any downpours when we had to return home.)

Negative people rarely envisage a happy outcome or great result. They always imagine that everything will go wrong.

They cannot limit their exposure to bad news – Negative people love coming into your cubicle and saying things like, “Have you heard the terrible news about….”, after which they fill you in on all the gory details. The tragedy is that overexposure to negative news affects a person more deeply than was previously thought. Research has shown that media exposure to violence, death and tragedy contributes to depression and anxiety, as well as to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It colors a negative person’s outlook on life.

That is why you should limit the amount of news you watch on television and on your PC. Difficult? Perhaps. But essential if you are to remain positive.

They have very thin skin – Those who are negative are likely to be over sensitive to criticism, even taking compliments the wrong way. They interpret innocent remarks as being condescending or rude. For example, a negative person may find jokes about short people offensive because they are not very tall themselves.

They complain a lot – Negative people tend to whine a lot, convinced that the whole world is against them. They are usually the victim of lousy weather, a difficult boss, bad luck, and their upbringing. They rarely step back to look at other factors – such as a lack of energy, creativity or simply hard work.

They never move outside their comfort zone – Moving outside the familiar world is anathema to those who are negative. They cannot face the possibility of more fear, discomfort, challenges or failure. They are thus never able to try out new experiences and are doomed to dwell in their dull and dreary comfort zone.

They love the word ‘but’ – A negative person might say something positive or even compliment you on your great cooking. They might be happy to find themselves on the beach or in a restaurant. The only problem: They finish their remarks with the ‘but’ word, turning this positive into a negative. You get remarks like “It looks like a great restaurant but I wonder why you didn’t book a table outside” or “It’s a lovely beach but there are always too many people around.”

 They are underachievers – Lack of success could be due to many factors, but negativity is a main cause. Negative people usually think they are not smart enough, athletic enough, or good enough. But the real threat to their success is that their emotional intelligence is crippled by their often critical and confrontational manner. Additionally, they will regale you with stories of how difficult people were, how they would never collaborate and how  impossible it was to get anywhere with them.

If they had been just a bit more positive, you think, they might have got somewhere!

They never get excited about future projects – Have you noticed that those who are negative can never talk about future plans or projects in a positive way? Actually, they rarely talk about plans at all because they are too wrapped up in their present misery. As a positive person, you have dreams. You have projects and visions of what your future will be like. You are on an open highway while they are stuck in a dark tunnel.

They become energy vampires – In addition to being demanding, negative people suck out all your energy, just like a vampire. They are simply incapable of producing any positive energy and will absorb your attention, time, and energy as they proceed to drag you down the negativity spiral.

They miss out on the good things of life – A negative person will hardly recognize joy, passion, contentment and excitement. These are not emotions or sensations that they regularly experience.

Of course, this is hardly surprising when considering these persons are fixated on their unsatisfying jobs, relationships and social status.

They put a negative spin on good news – You are excited to share great news about your dream job, engagement or a new house. But when you want to tell a negative person, you hesitate. Why? You know that they will always find a way to make it sound negative. They will caution you to be careful, warn you of the dangers and tell you to think carefully before accepting.


The best way to deal with all this negativity is to thank your lucky stars that you are positive and that you have overcome most of the negativity in your life. The more negative a person is, the happier you can be that you are not like them – and you will be extra careful about getting caught in their web.


FOF is for our fallen…

In 2011 the band worked with a local Raleigh designer, Joel Perrego of VAST DESIGN on branding the band.  We told Joel and his team we are a public safety bagpipe and drum band with a mission to provide a distinguishing tribute for our fallen comrades and to be in service to the families of public safety employees of the Raleigh region and across North Carolina. We desire to strengthen relations between the protective services and the public while preserving cultural heritage and enriching our community by providing the highest tradition of Bagpipe and Drum music. Our motto >> FOR OUR FALLEN.


Vast Design helped Wake & District understand who we are through a creative, strong and humble design which speaks volumes.  The mark consists of the letters F-O-F, For Our Fallen, making the shape of a shield. The checkered Battenburg pattern is traditional and worn by the band members (read more on why we wear checkered Glengarry hats here). The mark represents everything Wake & District stands for, “For Our Fallen”.

Wake and District is honored to be “Raleigh’s Pipe Band“. Since our formation in 2006, members of the band have participated in numerous City functions including Police and Fire graduation and award services, City Council ceremonies — and other stately events hosted by the City of Oaks. We’re privileged to be in service to North Carolina’s Capital City; our home town.

10 years on, our mission remains steadfast.  We continue to improve piping and drumming quality, culture and tradition in the region; we will not compromise people and the art.

#ForOurFallen #Branding #VAST



what’s your excuse…

At Wake and District, we are not fans of apologies or excuses. There is no point in trying to explain why you didn’t achieve something. If it is due to lack of investment, try harder. If it was a technique flaw, fix it. If it was a loss of memory, focus more. Don’t make excuses… make improvements and excel.   As you evolve as a musician (and get upgraded in your pipe band association) it is important to know what the “judges” are looking for — and more importantly, for you to recognize what you’re doing right and wrong.   The folks at Piper’s Dojo put out this article  — Judges Speak! The Top 5 Reasons Pipers Fail to Reach the Next Grade Level — which may prove helpful for some of you.

I recently spent some time “surveying” bagpipe judges from around the world, and taking mental notes on key concepts regarding pipers reaching the next grade level. This wasn’t an official double-blind, triple tested, bell-curve study – I simply asked judges that I knew one simple question:

“What are the top reasons piper’s fail to reach the next level?”

Out of the 20 or so judges I spoke to, I probed each of them enough to get 3 to 5 specific reasons out of them. Here’s a few other things I included in my un-scientific (but, I think somewhat “clever”) questioning:

  • I asked them to think about players they heard often during a season, not just players they heard once.
  • I asked them to think about score-sheet patterns that popped up on players who were (stereotypically, not definitely) “doomed” not to progress.
  • I asked them to try to “group” smaller items into larger groups. For example, crossing noises and sloppy embellishments were grouped into “sloppy fingerwork;” to keep the list manageable.

What’s interesting is, with very few exceptions, the same 5 items popped up in every conversation.


1) Sloppy Fingerwork

I suppose we all knew this was coming.

However, I think it’s important to mention that, in this case, this means the rule, not the exception. In other words, sloppiness in fingerwork was the prevailing pattern in unsuccessful performances (as opposed to the occasional sloppy passage in a tune).

Obviously, sloppiness can and will creep into essentially anyone’s performance from time to time. However, players that fail to reach the next level will have “chronic,” consistent issues with:

  • Regularly occurring, glaring crossing noises.
  • Gracenote sloppiness – usually, gracenotes are too big and/or out-of-sync with the melody.
  • Embellishments played poorly. Not only are embellishments themselves tricky, but they are also made up of gracenotes and note-changes – VERY easy to mess up if you’re not careful (and well prepared for competition).

2) Lack of Instrument Control/Steadiness

Even when I asked specifically about higher grade levels, this was still a big issue.

The bottom line? People are unsteady; “sagging” or “surging” on their blowing on such a regular basis that it severely distracts from the music.

It’s very easy to get lost in the fingerwork aspect of playing, and lose track of the concept of steady blowing. When I asked the judges, they all agreed that some sort of feedback, whether it be a private teacher and/or a consistent routine with a manometer, was what the successful players had in common.

3) Consistent Lack of Rhythmic Control

What is meant by this? Well, it’s fairly simple really – players that are successful are able to keep a steady tempo throughout a tune, and unsuccessful ones can’t.

Many players will slow down during difficult sections, and speed up during the “easy” parts. Sometimes, the opposite is true.

Another common mishap is a continual acceleration throughout a performance, due to a habit of regularly rushing the beat.

Judges commented that players known to have a private teacher, or a game-plan that utilized a metronome on a regular basis were able to prevent these issues.

4) Inability to Complete a Performance without “Blunders”

The definition of a “blunder” is simply a big enough mistake to disqualify a performance. Examples might include:

  • A “Break Down” where the piper stops before the end of the tune/set.
  • Forgetting to repeat a part.
  • Major note errors that take the tune irreconcilably off track. (Note, minor note errors are seldom a huge problem for most of the judges)
  • Going “off the tune” in any other significant ways not listed above.

What causes these blunders? Lack of preparedness? Lack of confidence? Remember, in general the judges are citing a repeated inability for a player to get through a performance without blundering.

So, if you’re having trouble with this issue – it’s time to get serious about not blundering.

5) Apparent Fear of Judge/Performance

One of the more interesting common responses from the judges I interviewed was that performance anxiety tended to be a huge reason pipers were unable to put together good performances.

Being fearful of playing in front of the judge tends to cause major issues concerning the first four problems; sloppy fingering, unsettled quality of instrument, rhythmic problems, and blunders.

What causes players to be scared of performing for the judge? What sort of remedy would help a player learn to transcend this issue?

Interesting Omissions from the List

While the following did come up from time to time, it was quite interesting to me that none of these were regularly occurring reasons that a piper didn’t reach the next level:

  • Expression/Phrasing Issues. That’s right! An overwhelming few judges mentioned this in our conversations.
  • Tuning – Precision of tuning was NOT an issue for most judges when it came to distinguishing between successful pipers and unsuccessful pipers.
  • Style/Interpretation – ZERO people actually mentioned a specific style of playing or setting/interpretation of tunes to be the reason for lack of success.
  • Tempo – I asked many judges if playing too slowly was a barrier to success in their experience. The answer was always overwhelmingly “No.”

Getting to the Point: Successful Piping Performances are More Than Just Practicing Some Tunes and Playing Them In Front of a Judge

So, if you’re a person who’s struggling in your own piping to reach the next level – are you being held back by any of the above? If so, what is the solution to this problem?

Let’s turn to the successful pipers (at all levels) for guidance as to the right way to approach solo competitions. It’s so much more than just practicing some tunes and then playing them in front of a judge.

What do the players that are winning and/or reaching the next level do to be so successful? Here are some common “denominators:”

  • Many have private teachers that they work with, online or in person, on a regular basis.
  • Many spare no expense to travel around to a lot of contests.
  • Many of them spend a lot of time immersing themselves in bagpipe music and the piping social scene.

What do all of these denominators show us? To me, the answer is clear: in order to be successful in reaching for new heights in our playing, we’re going to need a detailed roadmap to success (like a private teacher might provide), we’re going to need a lot of repetition (like playing lots of contests… although there are other ways to get performance repetitions), and we’re going to need to immerse ourselves in the art form as much as we can.

Get Our 6 Month Road Map

Based on many of these ideas, here at the Dojo we’ve developed a “BluePrint” for next-level success. It is a 6-month chart, customizable for any level and any repertoire, that shows literally every day of a 6-month preparation plan for solo piping success. Click Here to Get it for FREE.

During each month of the plan, we focus on a specific task building up to a goal event 6 months away. Examples of tasks include selecting the right tunes from a “short list,” working on weaknesses in our chosen tunes, focusing on memorization of our chose tunes, focusing on clarity of embellishments, focusing on rhythmic control and expression, and, lastly, we focus on preparation for the contest or major performance.

Simultaneously, we gradually build the tempo, using percentages of the goal tempo as a guide. For example, in the early months, we’ll play at 50% goal tempo, then 55%, then 60%, etc. You’ll know exactly when to play what, and at what tempo on any given day of the plan.

Every week, there is a recording day. This is where you get your repetitions that you need under pressure. How do we simulate the pressure? Well, we impose a simple rule on ourselves: we only get one chance to make the recording. We do one “take,” and send it to our instructor or mentor for feedback. Trust me; at first you’ll be plenty nervous. But what do you suppose happens after several weeks of recordings?

Myself and my staff have used this plan with literally hundreds of students, with an 87% success rate (for those who actually do the plan, that is). Click here now to get your free blueprint, and get to the next level in 6 months!


the most difficult musical instruments…

Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent.  It gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind and life to everything. Every music produced has the power to bind the unconscious to the conscious. It has the power to awaken the slumbering souls. When nature created man she also gave life to an ethereal gift. This gift gave birth to musicians and musical instruments. Today we have flutes, pianos, guitars, organs, drums, pipes, bugles and what not. They produce eternal music that has the power to heal the ailing soul and make a happy man the happiest! They help in connecting your mind and your body, allowing you to be emotionally authentic and expressive.

Given below is a list of the most difficult musical instruments — our beloved drums came in at #10 and the bagpipes at #5:

10. DRUMS  The drum belongs to the percussion group of musical instruments. They have at least one membrane called the drumhead or the drum skin that is stretched over a shell and is struck using a drum stick. Its basic design has remained unchanged and is the world’s oldest musical instrument. Diembe, a kind of drums can be played by a single drummer while others like bongo drums and timpani requires a set of two or more players. Similarly a jazz drummer would want drums that are high pitched and resonant while a rock drummer may prefer drums that are low pitched, loud and dry. Today handmade drums are used in music therapies because of their tactile nature. Centuries back drums were even used in religious ceremonies.

9. ACCORDIONS Accordions are a family of box shaped musical instruments that are bellows-driven. It is also known as squeezebox (in colloquial usage). The harmonium and the American reed organ also belong to the same family. An accordionist plays the accordion by compressing or expanding the bellows while pressing the keys. In Europe, North and South America the accordion is commonly used in folk music. It is also used as a solo instrument or an accompaniment in classical music. The accordion was once known as harmonika (from the Greek harmonikos) meaning harmonic, musical.

8. CLASSICAL GUITAR The classical guitar is an acoustical wooden guitar used in classical music. It belongs to the guitar family and has six strings on it. The classical guitar is constructed similar to a modern day guitar but we can also find historical classical guitars resembling the ancient romantic guitars of France and Italy. Polymers like nylon are used to make the strings of a classical guitar with a fine wire wrap on the bass strings. It were the designs of the 19th century Spanish luthier Antonio Torres Jurado that gave shape to the modern classical guitar. The famous flamenco guitar that made the world dance evolved from the classical guitar. The earliest classical guitar was invented about four centuries back and is a mixture of the lute, the vihuela and the baroque guitar.

7. PIANO The piano is played using a keyboard and is widely used in classical and jazz music for solo performances, chamber music and accompaniment and for composing and rehearsal. The sound board and the metal strings are covered using a protective wooden case. One of the world’s most familiar instruments, the piano is in fact the shortened from of pianoforte, the Italian word for the instrument. Piano and forte implies ‘soft’ and ‘strong’ respectively in Italian which in turn refers to the variations in the sound volume the piano produces in response to a pianist’s touch on the keys.

6. HARP The harp is a multi-stringed musical instrument that belongs to the category of chordophones (stringed instruments). Technically a harp consists of a neck, resonator and strings (positioned perpendicularly to the sound board). Nylon, gut, wire or silk is used to make the strings of a harp. Many baroque and classical composers like Mozart and Dussek used the harp as a solo instrument in concerts and orchestras. Casper Reardon, a pioneer in the world of ‘hot’ music was the first known harpist to play jazz. Regular improvements in their design also helped the harp in finding its way into modern music.

5. BAGPIPE Bagpipes are aerophones (a category of musical instrument) that uses enclosed reeds. The instrument created sensational music throughout Europe, the Caucasus, around the Persian Gulf and Northern Africa since the time of its invention. It has nine notes that should be played at a constant pressure to prevent the chanter from falling out of tune. Though the exact date of origin of the bagpipe is unknown, The Oxford History of Music records the sighting of a sculpture of Bagpipes on a Hittite slab at Euyuk in the Middle East that dates back to the 1000 BC.

4. OBOE A soprano-ranged, double reed musical instrument of the woodwind family, the Oboe is a wooden tube about 65 cm long with metal keys, a conical bore and a flared bell. The distinctive Oboe tune played by an oboist is described as ‘bright’ and is produced by blowing into the reed and vibrating a column of air. The instrument was called the hautbois, hoboy or French hoboy before it received its present name. The Sprightly Companion, an instruction book refers to the Oboe as “majestic and stately, not much inferior to the trumpet”. Among the wide variety of musical instruments, oboes are the most easily audible because of its clear and penetrating voice. The reed is the most important of an Oboe because of its significant effect on the sound produced. Developed from its predecessor the shawm, the Oboe originated in the 17th century.

3. ORGAN  The organ is a keyboard instrument with one or more divisions; each having a different keyboard that is played either with the hands or with the feet. A relatively old piece of art, the organ along with the clock is remarked as one of the most complex man-made mechanical creations before the Industrial Revolution. The organ has been the heart and soul of the Western musical tradition since the time of Ctesibius of Alexandria who invented the hydraulis. The most distinctive feature of an organ is its ability to range from the slightest sound to the most powerful. No wonder Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart called the organ the “King of instruments”.

2. FRENCH HORN  The horn, also known as the corno or the French horn is a brass instrument. It is made up of more than 20 feet of tubing wrapped into a coil with a flared bell. Any wind instrument with a flared exit for sound is also referred to as a horn. The mouthpiece of the horn is the key to making an excellent horn player. The adjustment of lip tension in the mouthpiece helps in controlling the pitch. Equally important is the operation of the valves by the left hand which route the air into the tubing. The French horn is a descendant of the natural horn (a horn without valves, similar to a bugle) and is German in origin.

1. VIOLIN  The violin, also known by the name of fiddle is the smallest high-pitched string instrument. It usually has four strings tuned in perfect fifths. The violinist or the fiddler normally uses a bow to play the violin by drawing it across the strings. The name was derived from the Medieval Latin word vitula meaning stringed instrument. Generally a violin is made using different types of wood by the luthier (the one who makes a violin) and is strung with a gut, synthetic or steel strings. Though of ancient origin, the violin has aided musicians in playing a variety of music genres- classical, jazz, folk music, rock and roll, soft rock etc to name a few.


share your excitement…

Have you ever found yourself talking with someone you are getting to know and you suddenly hit on a topic that both of you are super excited about? It’s SO FUN to find people who share your passion for something. It’s like this instant bond forms between you and you could talk for hours and hours without even paying attention to the time. Not only that but you find yourself growing even more passionate about the topic just by discussing it with others who share your same passion! That’s because the best way to multiply your excitement is to SHARE IT with others!!

Frankly, the best way to multiply most good things in life is to share them with others. If you want to multiply your happiness, share it with others. If you want to multiply your success, share it with others. If you want to multiply your ideas, share them with others. If you want to multiply your enthusiasm, share it with others. The best way to multiply opportunities, is to share them with others. It just works!

Too often we tend to hold things back. We internalize things rather than getting out and sharing them with others. We forget that there are others out there who care about the same things we do, who get passionate about the same things we are, who get excited about the things we are excited about. That’s why its important to get out there and talk to people. Share your thoughts. Share your insights. And for heaven’s sake – SHARE YOUR EXCITEMENT! You just have no idea the multiplier effect that sharing things with others with similar interests can have! And noone will benefit more from sharing it than you will. Try it and see.

Get out there and SHARE IT!’


From Amy Reese-Anderson



the band in the circle…

On 23 April 1910, Theodore Roosevelt delivered a speech (Citizenship in a Republic) at the Sorbonne Paris, France.  One notable passage on page seven of the 35-page speech is referred to as “The Man in the Arena”.

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

A person who is heavily involved in situations which require courage, skill, or tenacity (as opposed to someone sitting on the sidelines and watching), are sometimes referred to as “the man in the arena.”  In pipe band life, we can refer to this as “the band in the circle”

The speech emphasized his belief that the success of a republic rested not on the brilliance of its citizens but on disciplined work and character; the quality of its people. He told the audience: “Self-restraint, self-mastery, common sense, the power of accepting individual responsibility and yet of acting in conjunction with others, courage and resolution—these are the qualities which mark a masterful people.” And importantly, a democracy needed leaders of the highest caliber in order to hold the average citizen to a high standard. They were to do this not by words alone but by their deeds as well. “Indeed, it is a sign of marked political weakness in any commonwealth if the people tend to be carried away by mere oratory, if they tend to value words in and for themselves, as divorced from the deeds for which they are supposed to stand.”

Roosevelt firmly believed that one learned by doing. It is better to stumble than to do nothing or to sit by and criticize those that are “in the arena” he explained. “The poorest way to face life is with a sneer.” It is a sign of weakness. “To judge a man merely by success,” he said, “is an abhorrent wrong.”

We love this! And its true – BECAUSE EVEN IF WE FAIL (which we don’t really believe in because failure just means we have to try our approach in a different form) – NO ONE CAN TAKE AWAY FROM US THE EXPERIENCES WE CONTINUE TO GAIN. and it makes us that much bigger, stronger, and more prepared for the next contest.

So cheers, to the blood, sweat, and tears required in pipe band life. Without it, we wouldn’t appreciate the days to celebrate success.  Thank you to all of our members for a resolute weekend.




On Monday, 04 January 2016 the Wake and District Public Safety Pipes and Drums held our annual general meeting to review and plan for 2016 and beyond.  Over 55 members were in attendance.  A copy of our presentation to the band can be found here.

As an overview…band elections were held and we are pleased to announce Joe Brady will continue to serve as band manager, Jean Russell as assistant band manager, John Schodtler as treasurer, Lloyd Johnsonas secretary and Seth Wells as member at large.  It is pretty amazing to see 2 of our 6 founding band members on the board for the band.

The board appointed  section leaders for the 2016 competition season.  They include:

  • Ken McKeveny, G3 pipe major and Billy Gheringer, lead tip
  • Patrick O’Leary G4, lead tip
  • Bruce Ledet, G5 pipe major and Jeff Rogers, lead tip


The board went on to re-appoint existing NCOs and add new ones.  The band NCOs for 2016 are as follows:

  • Joe Brady, pipe major
  • Jason Lane, drum major
  • John McKeveny, drum major
  • Patrick O’Leary, drum sergeant
  • Billy Gheringer, G3 lead tip
  • John Schodtler, pipe sergeant
  • Seth Wells, pipe sergeant
  • Timothy Hinson, warrant officer
  • Bruce Ledet, G5 pipe major
  • Dalton Marshall, pipe corporal
  • Jacob Egen, drum corporal
  • Jeff Rogers, G5 lead tip
  • John Lovett, bass corporal
  • Jean Russell, tenor corporal
  • Ken McKeveny, G3 pipe major

A 2015 year in review was discussed (a detailed description by our band secretary, Lloyd Johnson, can be found here).  We highlighted how the band is always answering the call to serve public safety agencies in the region at graduations, promotions and other celebrations.

We went on to recognize the following competition related accomplishments — knowing 2015 was a transitional year with the addition of a G3 program:

  • John Lovett 2nd place over all bass amateur – Upgraded to professional
  • Martina Murphy 4th place overall tenor novice – Upgraded to amateur
  • Timothy Hinson 32nd G3 overall (294 pipers) – Upgrade to G2
  • Mark Boesmiller 20th G3 overall (294 pipers) – Upgrade to G2

We are proud of all of our members and their commitment to the work. 

The board went on to recognize a number of band members for 5+ years of service.  Uniform service marks were distributed and will be worn on the left sleeve of our Class A uniform jackets to recognize this commitment.

A discussion was had how members, music and uniforms come and go; it was sad to see several plays step away from Wake and District in 2015.  We are happy to announce so many new players joining the band – including several “traveling players”.

Expectations were discussed in terms of rehearsal – which will result in additional rehearsal nights for the band in general, along with our G3, G4 and G5 competition programs; there is never enough time on a single Monday nighti.  Given the different levels within our program it is imperative – training, practicing, and playing be done as “one band”.  To this end, we added once a month “all-call” rehearsals so the band can come together as one.

We discussed which games we will be attending in 2016 as a band.  They include:

  • Smoky Mountain (Maryville, TN) 21 May
  • Murphy Indoor (Raleigh, NC) 23 July
  • Charleston (Mt. Pleasant, SC) 17 Sep
  • Celtic Classic (Bethlehem, PA) 25 Sep
  • Stone Mountain (Georgia) 15 Oct
  • Central VA (Richmond) 22 Oct

We also marked out  dates for events which include the following:

  • North Myrtle Beach and Hilton Head Island St. Patrick’s Day Parades
  • World Record Kilt Run – Saturday, 19 March 2016
  • Virginia Military Tattoo
  • NCFFF Memorial March and Service
  • the inaugural Murphy Indoor Pipe Band Contest and after party

The band logo/mark is made up of the letters F O F.  FOF stands for more than “For Our Fallen”.  It represents For Our Families, For Our Friends
For Our Fans and Forging Our Future.  Early on in the season, Tom Foote told us “we are no where near where we are going to end up.”  As we embrace our future we know exactly what Tom meant by this…


In forging forward we’re introducing a new “standard settings of pipe music: volume 5” which include Funeral settings, Parades, Pubs, Performances and a Piob music, Competition settings and some Bonus Tunes which include our 21 and Under Medley (reserved for our younger pipers and drummers) — along with an arrangement of Old North State arranged by Dalton Marshall and Seth Wells.  Old North State is the Official Song of the State of North Carolina.

As always, some new tunes, some old tunes, some modified tunes and some tunes archived; something for everyone.  As we forge forward, we know only those who focus and commit will survive…

Our Uniform Standards Guide was updated by our senior Drum Major, Jason Lane.  It provides detailed instruction on our various uniforms and how they should be worn.  A discussion was had on the importance of appearance and having all the proper uniform items on hand.


Our senior piping instructor, Ken McKeveny thanked everyone for their hard work throughout 2015 and asked for everyone’s commitment to practicing at home and coming to rehearsals ready to play.  Competing both as a band and as solos was discussed – and we look forward to many of our members stepping onto the solo boards for the first time.  There is no point in trying to explain why we don’t achieve something.  Ken set some simple expectations (playing on the beat, practice with a metronome, play like it’s a new tune every time and tuning) — and asked everyone if they will you be part of the evolution?

The meeting ended with a discussion of our stated mission:

To provide a distinguishing tribute for fallen heroes.

To be of service to the family, friends and co-workers of public safety employees of Raleigh, Wake County and all those who serve and protect.

Strengthen relations between the protective services and the public and to preserve cultural heritage and enrich our community by providing traditional bagpipe and drum music.

For Our Fallen is everything we stand for.

We will follow our mission while being mindful of the steps we are taking as a band.

We ended the evening knowing — the most dangerous phrase in the English language is, ‘We’ve always done it this way.’  – Rear Admiral Grace Murray Hopper

  • There’s nothing more constant than change.
  • We may be pulled in many different directions and our priorities may need to change frequently.
  • What really matters is how we manage to come together when we need to and in the ways we need to.
  • The band’s harmony in the moments which demand will depend on our nimble and adaptive skills.
  • The success of the band is never won or lost in one instant. It’s always a culmination.
  • Don’t make excuses – make music.
  • There are no shortcuts.
  • It never gets easier you just get better.
  • All life is either moving forward and evolving or shrinking back and dying.

The Wake and District Public Safety Pipes and Drums –  founded on May 6, 2006 (V.VI.MMVI).  2016 (V.VI.MMXVI) marks our 10 year anniversary – our evolution begins at the “x” mark.




On a side note…kudos to Jean Russell, Megan Baker and Lindsey Kosydar for organizing the “Wake and District AGM Bingo” cards.  #Bravo  #Bingo #YouAreOutOfTheBand