The family that pipes together, stays together
REGINA – The Saskatchewan Highland Festival is a family affair for the MacDonalds.
The children grew up listening to bagpipes day and night. Their parents have been playing the traditional instrument for decades.
“It’s not an instrument that you start and then stop. It’s something you play for the rest of your life,” said mother Barbara MacDonald. “I continued to pipe when I had three babies, and while I had them inside me. So maybe that’s why they came out with the instinct.”
Barbara and Iain MacDonald’s first child was Eilidh.
“My whole life revolves around pipe band,” she said. “I love that my whole family is involved. All my friends from all over the world, all my closest family and friends, they’re all pipers and drummers.”
Her mom said it was only natural for Eilidh to inherit the talent. “She’s a brilliant piper and also a highland dancer. It’s just been part of our culture in our family for so long.”
Eilidh loves competitions. Every year, she travels to Scotland for the pipe band world championships in Glasgow, Scotland.
“That’s always the highlight of the year. It’s like Christmas time because all your family and friends are together,” she said.
After Eilidh came Rauridh.
“I remember at a young age seeing the people do the swinging sticks and I thought it was really cool and I said, ‘I’m going to do that’.”
At the young age of 12, Rauridh travelled to Scotland to play with his parents in the City of Regina Pipe Band. He was the youngest player, by far. Just a few years later, he was hand-picked to play for one of the best bands in the world, the Inverary and District.
His dad saw it coming. “It wasn’t surprising actually, because he is a really good player,” Iain said. “It’s like if you played on the Regina Pats, and were quite a good player, but then the New York Rangers came and said, “we want you to come play for us’.”
“It was very intense,” Rauridh said. “They want it to be perfect every time. Like absolutely perfect. So there’s a lot of practice and work that goes into it.” He played there for three seasons, setting an example for his little brother, Duncan.
“He’s an incredible little piper. He’ll be very good,” said Eilidh. “He’s the greatest little kid. He keeps us all inspired.”
Duncan said he appreciates having his family around to help him. “My dad teaches a lot of piping. So it’s just really handy, when I need a reminder of what to focus on when I’m practicing.”
Now, as the two oldest children grow up and move away, their music has become the glue that holds everyone together.
“It’s such a great thing to do with your family. We all travel together, all over the world. It’s really lots of fun,” said Barbara.