Local piper cracks ranks of Winnipeg band

In the world of pipe bands, the opportunity given to Dr. Bruce Lidkea to play as a member of the Winnipeg Celtic Pipe Band is like being called from St. John’s to suit up with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
“It’s an enormous step up,” said Dr. Lidkea. “It’s a big jump from what you would call a parade band.”
The local optometrist was offered a chance to “try out” for the Level 3, semi-professional pipe band back in July.
“They approached me at the Fort Frances School of Celtic Arts,” he noted, adding one of the instructors they had brought in here was the pipe sergeant of the Winnipeg band.
“He gave me a stack of music and told me to memorize it,” Dr. Lidkea explained.
Though intimidated by it, Dr. Lidkea took a month or so to memorize it and went for the tryout in September. He was accepted.
“There’s quite a bit of culture shock going to a band of that level,” he admitted. “The band has a much larger repertoire of much harder tunes.
“The difference is the level of performance, the difference of tunes, and the detail of the technique and tuning,” he added of the Winnipeg competition band.
“Everything is several notches up.”
The Winnipeg Celtic Pipe band will travel across Canada to perform at competitions, including the 2004 North American Highland Games in Maxville, Ont. next fall.
“The band in Fort Frances is geared as a learning band,” Dr. Lidkea said of the difference he’s seen playing with the new band. “People are there to become competent players.
“They take competent players and make world-class players out of them,” he remarked, adding the Winnipeg band also is planning to attend the 2005 World Pipe Band Championships in Glasgow, Scotland.
“You play for your own enjoyment, but not when you’re competing,” Dr. Lidkea said of the seriousness of the competitive band. “It’s a team effort.”
He explained it’s your duty as a player to excuse yourself from competition if there are technical problems with your equipment that would make your playing sub-par.
One mediocre performance can ruin the whole team’s chance.
In a nutshell, they take their piping seriously.
“We’re lucky, we have several professional level players [Level 1] in the band,” Dr. Lidkea noted. “It’s great to be able to play with people of that level.
“I’ve gone from one of the best players [here in Fort Frances] to pretty much ‘Joe Average’ in the Winnipeg band,” he added.
“Every time I go, I’m learning something,” he remarked, noting he’s had to re-tool and refine his playing.
“[But] it’s good for me and my students, and good for the Fort Frances Highlanders,” Dr. Lidkea reasoned. “If I can bring some of that knowledge back, it will benefit everyone.”
(Fort Frances Times)