Donald K. Ross, Bagpiper



..when you want the best!




When you want the best

Biography

Biography

I believe that anyone trying to master a musical instrument will devote countless hours and years of practice to be able to perform a selection of music that the audience will describe with just two words....Beautiful and Effortless.  This is the sound of a true professional.  It is not just practice that makes one a piper but it is also one's instructor who can have a hand in molding a world class player.  I call this a piping lineage, and here is mine:

I began lessons at the age of 12 from Hughie Garside.  After six months of lessons I started on the pipes and Hughie said "It's time to look for a band and new instructor".  We decided on Clan MacRae Pipe Band under the direction of Pipe Major Dennis Barr.  Dennis became my new instructor and at the age of 14 he made me the Pipe Corporal of Clan MacRae Pipe Band.  The Clan MacRae Pipe Band performed in local parades, political fundraisers, corporate events, and competed in Grade 4 band competitions.  The band competed in the Mid-Western United States and Canada, from Windsor to Ottawa, consistently winning prizes in Grade 4.  I competed and won numerous prizes individually a this time in Grade 4 then Grade 3.  In 1973 and 1974 I attended the John MacFayden Summer School of Piobaireachd in Wilkesport Ontario.  The St. Andrew's Band organized this school for the local talent in Detroit and Southern Ontario area.  The student list included the talents of Bill Livingstone, Jim McGillivray, Dave Martin, John Goodenow, Ed Neigh, and Frank Edgley.  John MacFayden would come over from Scotland and teach Piobaireachd the traditional way.  The Master would teach his students on the way each piobaireachd should be performed.  A tradition of teaching that has been past on from generation to generation.  It was at this summer school when I met Dave Martin.  I joined the St. Andrew's Band in 1974 and Dave became my new instructor.  I was made the Pipe Sergeant of the band in 1976.  At this time the band competed in Grade 2 and we won the Champion Supreme in Southern Ontario.  We also won top prizes in Michigan and Illinois.  I competed individually in Grade 2 then Grade 1.  I became an Open Player (Professional Class) in 1979.  I have won numerous prizes in Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Illinois, and from Windsor, Ontario to Ottawa.  Thanks to the dedication and hard work of Dave Martin the St. Andrew's Band is one of the oldest performing/competing bands in the country.  The band consists of 20 pipers and 10 drummers.  We also have about a dozen students learning piping and drumming.  In December of 2011 the band completed its first foray into recording, with a 17 track album of highland bagpipe music.  For more information or to order a copy click here.  I am honored to be a member of such a storied organization.

In 2010, and after forty years of playing and still taking lessons from Dave Martin, I am pleased to announce that Bob Worrall has agreed to take me on as a pupil for further development in Open Class competition.

In 2016 I joined a brand new pipe band called Border Cities Caledonia.  The band membership is made up of bagpipers and drummers from the USA and Canada, hence our name Border Cities.  In our first year of competing in Grade 4 we won numerous prizes in both countries.  2017 is a very promising year with new membership growing.  Some of these dedicated members travel more than five hours one way to be a part of the band. 

Hughie Garside- Piper in the 42nd Highlanders under the direction of Pipe Major Bob Lilley

Dennis Barr- Pipe Major of the Clan MacRae Pipe Band.  A competitive prize winning Grade 4 band.  Dennis was an accomplished individual player taught by Walter Rose.  Dennis was also an original member of the St. Andrew's Pipe Band.

Walter Rose- Originally from Scotland, Walter came to Detroit, Michigan and started the St. Andrew's Pipe Band in 1952.  In this era, band competitions were divided into two groups.  "A" Bands and "B" Bands.  Walter developed a group of young adults (all under the age of 21) into one of the best prize winning "A" and "B" bands in the country.  Walter was taught in Scotland by Archie McNeill (aka Blind Archie).

Archie McNeill- A well known piping authority and respected composer.  Archie was also the Hononary Principal at the College of Piping in Glasgow, Scotland.

John MacFadyen- The best piobaireachd (classical music) player of his generation, with an immense stature as a competitive piper.  He won the Gold Medal at Oban in 1960 and at Inverness in 1966.  He won the Open Piobaireachd at Oban in 1967, 1968, and 1970.  He added Clasps to his Inverness Medal in 1966, 1968, and 1969.  He won the Silver Chanter at Dunvegan Castle in 1969.  It was in London that he excelled.  He won the Bratach Gorm five years in succession from 1966 to 1970 and was presented with a replica as a permanent record of his achievements.  When John died in 1979, a light went out in the world of piping.  The loss of somebody who lived life fully and who had carried his skills in performance and teaching far beyond the borders of Scotland.  As a teacher, he passed on his essential music approach to a fortunate and appreciative generation of young pipers in Scotland and abroad.

David Martin-  A student of Walter Rose, Dave was appointed Pipe Major of the St. Andrew's Pipe Band in 1973, a position which he still holds today.  Dave attended the College of Piping summer school in Scotland and was taught by Archie McNeill.  It was here that Dave met John MacFayden and began a 20 year course of Piobaireachd under his tutelage.  Dave has lead the St. Andrew's Band to Champion Supreme victories in Grade 2 and Grade 3.  Dave is a World Class individual player.  Dave is the only person from the Mid-Western United States to have won the Champion Supreme in Piobaireachd in Canada, Piobaireachd Society Gold Medal Ottawa and 2nd place in the Silver Medal of Oban.  Dave is a highly sought after judge and sits on numerous judging panels in North America. Dave is most proud of teaching numerous World Class players who have been featured prominently in individual competition. 

Robert (Bob) Worrall-  Chief Piping Instructor for the Highland Musical Arts School from its inception in 2000.  He is one of North America's leading teachers, adjudicators and performers.  Prior to retiring from competitive piping in 1983, Bob won the North American Professional Championship an unprecedented seven times and held the Ontario Championship Supreme title for 12 of his 13 years in professional competition.  In 1977, he was winner of both the March and the Strathspey/Reel events at the Northern Meeting in Inverness, Scotland. 

Bob is highly sought after as a teacher, both for bagpipe workshops and private instruction, and he presents recitals throughout North America and elsewhere.  All of this has taken him, in recent years, to 35 states in the U.S., coast to coast in Canada, Uruguay, Brittany, South Africa and Scotland. 

Bob's first instructor was Bill Millar who was from Northern Ireland.  After some years and success in competition, Bill Millar sent Bob to study under the great John Wilson and it was there that Bob really excelled.  The next step was to master piobaireachd.  Enter Willie Connell, whose vast knowledge of the classical music was what Bob needed.  Willie explained the phrasing of the tune and how the tune worked.  As a result Bob became a more musical player.



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