Clan Stuart has piping in the bag

Published 2:00pm 17 August 2023

Clan Stuart has piping in the bag
Words by Jodie Powell

Des Stuart has been playing the bagpipes for more than 50 years and he’s thrilled the instrument continues to fascinate younger generations.

The founder of Clan Stuart Pipes and Drums, which practices every Saturday morning at Pine Rivers Park, says playing is something of a family pursuit.

“My uncle was a drum major at Redcliffe and my son wanted to play drums and I said, ‘if he’s going to play he’s going to play in a pipe band’.

“I started old – I was 36 and I’m 87 now and I ended up with a family of pipers and one drummer.

“My four girls are pipers and my wife and I are too – and my son is the drummer.”

Welcoming new members

Clan Stuart Pipes and Drums is one of three pipe bands in the Moreton Bay Region, alongside the Murrumba Pipes and Drums Society and the Redcliffe Scottish Pipe Band.

It is home to almost 20 musicians and member Colin McIntosh says they’re keen to see that number grow.

“We got two new members from Dayboro Day – one of them is 11 and we hope she stays with us,” he says.

“We’re really keen for anybody to come down and give it a go.”

Like Des, Colin came to the pipes relatively late – he’s been playing for about three years - and says he’d never read a note of music before he started.

“I started playing after COVID – my dad’s Scottish.

“I openly told my neighbours I was learning the pipes,” he laughs.

“I have a practice chanter, so that makes things a bit quieter, but if I actually want to play the bagpipes I go to local parks.”

Varied performances

Colin says practice chanters – or pipes – start about $100 and once a player is proficient, they progress to a full bagpipe set.

Des says a decent chanter is a good investment.

“You keep the chanter for the rest of your life. Mine cost $12 and it’s got ivory, which you don’t see these days,” he explains.

“The uniforms are supplied by the band but quite a few players have their own family (tartan) uniforms.”

Clan Stuart Pipes and Drums plays on Anzac Day at Zillmere, Bald Hills and Kallangur, as well as community events and members are regularly asked to play at funerals.

“We attend community events – we want to keep the spirit of the pipes alive - we play wherever people want us.

“I’m a junior school primary teacher (at St Paul’s School at Bald Hills) and I play for the kids when they’re doing sport.”

To find out more about Clan Stuart Pipes and Drums phone Pipe Major Lyn Stuart on 0422 875 404.

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