When pipers come to play

Competitive branch of Queen’s Bands won four competitions last season

Queen’s pipe band, a competitive branch of Queen’s Bands, won four regional titles last year.
Queen’s pipe band, a competitive branch of Queen’s Bands, won four regional titles last year.

Since becoming competitive last January, Queen’s pipe band has been hitting high notes—four, to be exact.

The band, which has 22 members, won four competitions against other bands in eastern Ontario and New York in the past year.

“The pipe band has always been a part of Queen’s Bands since 1939, but we decided to start competing last January,” said Jake Dicker, pipe band major and ArtSci ’11.

Dicker said the pipe band funds its own trips to competitions. They collect a $70 membership fee from the musicians to pay for contest admission fees.

They’re comprised of musicians who play the bagpipes, snare drums, tenor drums and a bass drum.

Fifteen of the band members are students, while the remaining seven are alumni and community members.

Dicker said the band requires experienced members.

They compete at Level 5 in competitions, which is the most introductory level of five, he said. The band attended eight competitions last season, splitting the season with four titles. Most notably, they tied for first place in the North American Pipe Band Championship in Maxville, Ontario.

There were twelve bands competing in their category, Dicker said.

“We managed to surprise a lot of people,” he said. “About 100,000 people attend that each year.”

Dicker said the band will compete at a higher level, Level 4, in their upcoming season because of last year’s success.

“The Pipers and Pipe Band Society of Ontario (PPBSO) determine who can become a professional based on results in competitions,” he said. “When we trained for this season, we tried to prepare to be acceptable in a higher grade level than we needed to be.”

Dicker said he started playing the bagpipes when he was five years old.

“My dad and two uncles started learning around the time I was born,” he said. “I eventually picked it up and excelled with it and became a professional when I was 16.”

Their season runs from April to August, Dicker said, adding that he considers the pipe band a summer extension of Queen’s Bands.

“In the fall we’re only having about one practice a month, but as competitions get closer, we practice once a week.”

Dicker said he’s looking forward to the upcoming season.

“By the end of the season we were playing very close to a level four, so I’m pretty optimistic,” he said. “It’s a great time.”

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