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The Boise Highlanders

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How our school got started...

Our Drum Major, George Earley suggested we start teaching people to play the bagpipes in 1974. Boise Idaho was far removed from the piping community with the nearest activity in Salt Lake 300 miles away. Ron Lopez and Joyce Bottoms were encouraged to start teaching, and although Ron felt he might not be knowledgeable enough to teach, George told him "Sure you are and I will help". The band started teaching within the Community Education system which included instruction in many different subjects. We had some success and most of our current and many past pipers are a result of our efforts in that school.

We stayed within the Community Ed system until 2003 and then took a year's leave. Ron had always wanted to develop our own tutor book to fit our teaching style and provide a direction toward our band tunes. Joyce helped put our ideas into the tutor book. Her expertise with the computer enabled us to create a tutor that fitted our needs. They gleaned information from several tutors, many better than ours but the feeling was, they were too intimidating for the beginner. Credit is given to all the books used and students are encouraged to buy them when they want to dig further into the playing of the Great Highland Bagpipe. The first school started in 2005 and we are now in our 3rd year.

We have one piper from the first school in our band now. We have several from the second year who have purchased pipes and are starting down the road to becoming productive pipers of the Boise Highlanders. We are still far away from piping activities and have only a couple of pipers who have come from the "Outside" , however, many of our pipers have attended schools and brought back much knowledge and skills. Some of our former pipers have gone on to be Pipe Majors and one has played in grade 2 and 3 bands. Our pipers who have gone away to Schools received good comments concerning their early instruction. The instructors we have brought in seem to have been pleasantly surprised with quality of our band. Much credit and thanks must go to the 6 to 10 pipers of the Boise Highlanders who have enthusiastically given their time to make this school a success.

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