— When Mark King told his 6-year-old son, Jacob, that he would
soon begin piano lessons, Jacob said
he had other plans — to learn to play the bagpipes.
“I think I liked the way they sound
or the way they looked,” said Jacob of Sterling Heights.
Jacob did start his piano lessons,
but the first-grader’s wish came true earlier this year, when he
and his father enrolled in Macomb Community College’s beginner
The two are among about 20 in the
class, which is becoming more popular.
The college first introduced the
class as a bagpipe playing workshop in September, said Gary
Krueger, an instructor who teaches along with his own teacher,
David Clark. About 15 people registered for the first class.
Since then, those taking the class
have shown quite a commitment, Krueger said. About 85 percent of
the students in the first semester returned this past semester
for further training.
And the backgrounds of those taking
the class are quite diverse. Students range from the King
father-son team to a local firefighter to a pediatrician.
While some of the students have
Scottish or Irish backgrounds, others took up the instrument for
emotional reasons. Kirk Lee of Eastpointe, the firefighter in
the class, said he was inspired during a memorial service to
those who died in the September 11 terrorist attacks.
“Seeing all those hundreds of
bagpipers marching by Madison Square Garden paying tribute was
really something,” Lee said. “It’s an ancient instrument that’s
something most people don’t play.”
Those who started the class hope it
will one day include other classes, such as dance and drumming,
said Krueger, who teaches the Great Highland piping style.
“We want to expand ... to a whole
Scottish heritage program,” said Krueger, who began learning to
play the instrument four years ago. “There’s a big call out
there for us to teach.”
People like Lee, who just completed
his first semester, had to first learn how to read sheet music.
Little Jacob, who already reads sheet music, has to grow into
learning how to breathe properly to blow into the pipes.
But Krueger said everyone is
advancing quite well and seems to be interested in learning
“We’re having a great time with
this,” he said. “It’s a complicated instrument, and most of them
This fall, the class will move from
locations in Anchor Bay schools to the college’s music and art
department, Krueger said. The department is on Center Campus in
You can reach
Anjali J. Sekhar at (586)
826-7236 or asekhar@ detnews.com.