Surely you’ve heard the story about the bagpipe player whose car
was broken into. When he returned to the vehicle where he’d laid
his instrument, sure enough there was another set of bagpipes in
Kieran Prince has heard this joke and plenty of others like
“I think it’s funny,” said Prince, 21, of Port Orchard, a
student at the University of Washington who’s played the bagpipes
since he was 8 years old. “They are to a certain degree kind of
obnoxious because they’re so loud.”
Even his fellow pipers in the Clan Gordon Pipe Band of Tacoma have a
laugh at their own expense. “Its all in good fun though,” he
Prince wasn’t laughing, however, when he found his car window
smashed out the morning of Jan. 2 and the century-old set of
bagpipes that had been in the back seat gone.
His car was parked on McCormick Woods Drive, according to a Port
Orchard Police Department report. The police are investigating the
theft of the bagpipes, which Prince describes as irreplaceable.
The pipes belonged to Jack Montgomery, Prince’s mentor and a
60-year-old the Clan Gordon band. They were passed down to
Montgomery from his late father.
“They’re totally priceless for me and for Jack especially,” said
Prince (the young lad second from right in the photo below). “Had
they been my pipes, its still horrible but more tolerable than not
belonging to me and having been his dad’s.”
In the interest of full disclosure, I’ve known Kieran Prince since
about the time he took up the bagpipes. On Christmas night, Kieran
and friends showed up at our doorstep, him playing “Amazing Grace”
and another tune that had us all dancing a jig arm in arm.
I know nothing about playing the bagpipes, except what Kieran’s
explained to me, from which I gather it’s darned complicated.
There’s the big leather bag one must keep inflated with air one
blows into it. One must pump the air from the bag tucked under
one’s arm into the the “drone” pipes that stick out above one’s
shoulders. The melody is played on the “chanter,” with finger
holes, rather like a recorder. Beside maintaining the air, the
drone and the melody, one is usually marching in step with an
ensemble of other pipers and drummers … in a kilt. No small
“It’s a complicated instrument for sure,” Kieran said.
Kieran took up the bagpipes to please his mother, Fiona Prince,
and Grandma Dorothy Russel of Bannockburn, Scotland. He started
just picking out the melody on the chanter, later graduating to the
full set of pipes. “At that age when you’re young you’re sort of a
sponge,” he said.
Now, he’s fully invested in the art of piping and proud of his
Kieran (on the left in the photo below) is one of the youngest
members of the Clan Gordon band. He plays with the band in parades,
at highland games and at
the annual Tartan Ball, hosted by the band in Puyallup.
Rather than giving him a hard time about his unusual choice of
instrument, Kieran’s friends are totally into it. “When I break
them out. Everybody’s really excited about it,” he said.
Kieran is hopeful the police can trace the pipes, which are in a
black sack and have the Clan Gordon emblem on them. He is offering
a reward of $400 for their return — no questions asked.
Anyone with information can call the Port Orchard Police
Department, (360) 876-1700 on case number D16-000015, or contact
Kieran directly, firstname.lastname@example.org, (360) 710-2228.
Here’s one more video of the band
at the Mt. Vernon Highland Games.
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