When you choose the pipes you have chosen the Great Highland War Pipe, a Scottish instrument whose origin dates back to Egyptian, Greek and Roman times. The bagpipe is a wind instrument with four reeds; a chanter reed provides the melody, and three drone reeds provide the harmonic hum. The bag is a reservoir of air and the piper alternately blows and squeezes to produce a steady sound.
First pipers purchase a practice chanter, a $50 instrument similar to a recorder with a double reed. The chanter has nine notes with no sharps or flats. Tunes are embellished with grace notes. Once fingering is mastered pipers purchase their own bagpipes. You will learn to play marches, strathspeys, reels, jigs and love tunes both ancient and modern. You will enjoy the "quickening of the crowd" as you add your skirl of the pipes. Traditionally pipers are valued members of Scottish communities and are always crowd pleasers.
When you choose the drum you have a choice of snare, tenor or bass. You may even decide to become proficient on all three. All drumming students first learn the snare drum, which is called a side drum. The snare provides the cadence for marching and a rhythmical accompaniment to the pipe music. Tenor drums provide spectacular visual effects both beating and twirling their sticks. The bass drummer sets the music tempo from slow marches to quick jigs.
When you choose the Color Guard you may carry traditional Scottish flags or local, state and national colors. Some Color Guard members serve as an honor guard carrying rifles. At the forefront of every engagement, Color Guard members are the first to feel crowd excitement as the company approaches. Most new members start in the Color Guard to learn marching techniques while mastering their instruments.