|Kyla MacNeil, White Spot Pipe Band Manager and BCPA Education subcommittee Leader||Alisa Corscadden, Parent of White Spot Player and BCPA Education subcommittee Vice-Leader|
We are living in a strange, unprecedented time, in both our everyday lives and also in our pipe band world. No Highland Games to attend, no circles to form, no swapping of bagpipes while tuning, no lively camaraderie. It has been hard, and it has been even harder on the youth.
The White Spot Pipe Band has been working hard to keep our Grade 4 band members and our beginners learning and thriving over these last few months. We have been turning to online practices, with instructors trying to keep the kids engaged and learning. Our youth have also been challenging themselves to keep progressing by taking part in some of the different online competitions, fun challenges from other pipe bands around the world, and participating in our own BC Pipers’ Association assessments. We are very proud that many of our kids took it upon themselves individually to go out in the community to help keep spirits alive by piping and drumming outside hospitals and care homes, or by parading down the streets or playing in front of their homes at 7 pm. They even joined with their head piping instructor, Hal Senyk, on Canada Day to celebrate Hal’s 100th day of piping since this pandemic started!
On the weekend of July 18 and 19, the White Spot Grade 4 band had a weekend of playing outside in a park. It felt a little like a Highland Games, even down to picking the hottest day of the year so far! The instructors and youth were able to join together under different tents in order to appropriately social distance, to practice their birls and rudiments, as well as enjoy some much needed laughs and social time.
During our practice we followed the COVID-19 recommendations of BC’s Provincial Health Officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry. Some examples of how we managed this were:
- There were approximately 30 people (band members, parents/family members, and instructors) present at the completely outdoor location.
- We insisted on proper spacing of the band members during chanter/pad practice under the tents.
- For our pipers, we insisted on hand sanitizing before chanter practice and before picking up the pipes.
- Nobody except for the piper themselves was allowed to touch their individual reeds or chanters. Our pipers themselves are directed by their instructor at an appropriate distance as to how to manage their reeds and instruments (such as changing tapes on the chanters).
- All individual tuning by the pipers themselves in pre-tuneup time is done with proper social distancing rules.
- When our piping instructor is tuning drones, he is wearing a face shield. In one instance where our instructor had to touch a chanter reed, it was done with medical gloves.
- After using hand sanitizer, the drums were tuned by one drumming instructor who was working under a tent alone. The drummers then picked up their own instrument from the tent one at a time.
We feel that the months of online learning, practicing on their own, and the Grade 4 band weekend were successful. We are proud to be able to pull together our 2020 Medley for everyone to enjoy! We hung up our kilts and donned our festive Hawaiian shirts for fun. We hope everyone stays safe and healthy and we hope to see you all soon!