Things to know. Or not....
The wonderful people at Beechwood Cemetery decided to help us get to Scotland by organizing a fundraiser and helping us raise money for travel. It's partners like this that help opportunities happen, and happen for many.
At this time of year, you might be looking for a gift for yourself or someone on your list that's a piper or wants to start learning.
If that's something of interest to you, check out my school on the Patreon platform at www.patreon.com where you will join people from all over the world that have all decided to take their piping to new highland heights!
There are so many videos and lessons, and many more to come - and you can be part of a community that cares, learns, and gives back. And that's a great gift!
We played in a Christmas parade this past weekend. The community came out in droves, the weather was kind, and we just were so glad to be there. Wishing you all the best this holiday season!
Every year the Dominion Tavern in Ottawa's Byward Market hosts a Remembrance Day Fundraiser to help veterans in our community. This year they chose our pipe band as their chosen charity, and we received some great support to help our plans for the Invictus Games. It's great to have friends like this!
I got to play the Lament at the Calabogie Legion for Remembrance Day alongside our friends in the Renfrew Highland Pipes & Drums. They were tremendous.
I partnered up with a filmmaker during the pandemic to make a video across Ottawa in honour of Remembrance Day. I hope you enjoy it.
I get to play with rock bands. And then we talk about going to big shows. And that is awesome. Glastonbury 2024 - now that would be superb!
It's so nice to be asked to pipe at highland dance contests of any size. Small, big, outdoor, indoor, it's all the same - all important in someone else's life and a culmination of a lot of preparation and work that you are hired to support.
So, you get ready by reviewing your tunes and getting the pipes all ready to be played throughout the day - the same tunes for each dance, but different tempos - all set by the judging panel watching very closely and listening to you play.
It's not easy but it is very rewarding. I am very good at chasing the sound and making sure the dance pieces are well presented.
Always learning, every day.
When one contest season ends, another one begins with the opportunity to build a new set of tunes to compete with for the pipe band.
And we might keep the set for a couple of years, and get to know it very well. I have just assembled our new set, and we have started playing it. Everyone is enthusiastic about the choices, and we are all playing it well.
August comes early, every year, and we will be ready!
The opportunity to travel to Europe to perform at the Invictus Games was one that came up a long time back. We decided at the last minute to go on the trip for a few reasons, but we are so glad that we did. We went to Amsterdam, Berlin, Dusseldorf, Ypres, Cologne, and had a great time everywhere we went. New friends from the PWOR Foundation P&D in Kingston joined us, and everyone worked hard and truly enjoyed everywhere we got to play and tour. I'd do it again, in a heartbeat. And we will, in Canada in 2025. Want to be part? Let me know!
I help to plan the trip to Scotland every year and it's a great, rewarding job. We get to partner with so many wonderful companies and people in Scotland that give us the chance to perform, visit, and have fun. This year our trip will end with a day in Edinburgh where we will perform at the Palace of Holyroodhouse, then onto City Chambers to do a show in the courtyard, and then we get to board a bus like the one above and do a tour of the city with stops along the way to play and enjoy the dancers performances. It will be a memorable day to end our trip and hopefully a day without rain!
The very nice employee at the Giant Tiger near me stopped me today and told me that the wee pool I got her last year was being very much used and enjoyed by her nieces and nephews in the Philippines. She has a video to show me next time.
That is just awesome. Stay kind my friends!
I really can only read piping and drumming notation. So yesterday, one of my pupils had this book which is a saxophone music book, and I thought I'd look through it. Found this melody, which we know in piping as "Going Home" which is a lovely lament I play often at funerals and other memorials. Proof that a good song never goes away, but it might be known under different titles. Cheers!
There was a lady who lived in the building across from me who was having an apartment sale over the past few days. I decided on Friday to pop up and see what she had, and I ended up buying a couple of cool things. In talking to her about her move, I learned that she was leaving a very unhealthy marriage and moving away to start fresh. I felt I could help more, so yesterday I went over, and gave her some more money and told her I'd take the leftover items to the local children's day care near us. I have lots to take, and it will mean a lot to many of the kids.
And this girl will be able to get herself more prepared to relocate, knowing these things will go to deserving kids. We all win!
Sometimes you have someone in your life that has had a bad hand dealt to them. When this happens, give them some time, and then give them your words of kindness. It can mean to them so much, at a hard time that doesn't feel good for them. But your friendship can. Bring it, and make their days a little better.
I have been asked to assemble a small celeidh band to play at the Sir John A. MacDonald building on Wellington Street in Ottawa in June to mark the occasion of the unveiling of a plaque of former Speaker of the House of Commons, Geoff Regan. The event will be attended by many people including former Governor Generals and Prime Ministers, and it should be very memorable.
Keep practising. You never know what opportunities will come your way!
May 6 will be a day in history we will never forget. We will watch and celebrate, and hold the memory of our dear Queen Elizabeth close to us.
My friend Kelly Torrance passed away. She was someone that I worked with so many years ago at the Brigadier's Pump in Ottawa, and we both had a wonderful time as very good waitresses at the bustling pub. We kept in touch over the years when work and school changed our paths, and she was always someone who had a great smile and superb spirit. She became ill a couple of years ago, and I made sure to keep her entertained by making little videos and sending them to her, and she was always so grateful for them. When she was planning her funeral, she asked me to play Amazing Grace for her, which I did, but I told her mum and family that I wanted to end the service with something a bit more uplifting. So, I cranked out Going Home and Dancing Queen, a medley never before played by me, for a girl who was like no other. She will be so sadly missed.
Listening to piping records as a kid was something not only I did, but many of my contemporaries did as well. At the time, it was one of the few ways we'd get exposed to good music of pipe bands, and our parents totally encouraged it. I have been told that friends of mine used to march around the dining room table with one person carrying a stick (or toilet plunger) and one kid wearing a tea towel as a cape - mimicking the drum major's mace and the piper's plaids that were so visually interesting to us - and this has been the tradition of many. With the ending of the BBC Pipeline program, it's up to us to continue encouraging ways of sharing the music, be it with YouTube recordings, private recordings and so much more. Just share the inspiration, and be the joy you want to bring!
It always makes shows much more fun when we have the dancers with us. They light up the room and bring the shows alive. We call it The Dancers Delight, and do they ever!
Bethany Bisaillion is a piper living in Ottawa, Canada. She performs, produces shows and loves to help others. Being loud and sometimes in a kilt is a way of life.