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• Where are you from and how did you get into piping?
I am from Selkirk in the Scottish Borders. I got into piping through my local pipe band, of which my uncle was the Pipe Major. I started to take lessons at Selkirk High School when I was 15. However, I had been playing snare drum for the best part of 10 years by this point.

• How has the pandemic affected your piping personally?
The pandemic has been great for my piping! During this period, I began work at Strathallan School in Perthshire as a snare drum tutor. Those that know me well, know that any spare time I have is taken up by my drumming and the pipe band. However, with there being no pipe bands over the last year, and now having a place that I could practice outside of the house (school), I decided to start pushing my piping again. This is something I had not pursued much over the last 10 years.

• Is there anything you can’t leave home without?
My mobile phone. It has now become like a limb. I would love to liberate myself and stop looking at it as much, but what if I miss a notification?!!?

• What’s your favourite international food?
That is a difficult one as pretty much most food in the Scotland these days is international. However, you can’t go far wrong with a pepperoni or haggis pizza.

David Richardson.

• What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever eaten?
Well, I’ve been to China and there were plenty of strange things consumed there. I remember our digs had a nice aquarium tank in the dinning room. It was full of fish and turtles but it appeared to be getting less and less occupied each day. Goodness knows what I ate that week!

• When you travel is there something you particularly miss when away?
I have always missed Edinburgh, as sad as that may sound. When I was in the army we spent many a summer at the castle. This allowed us time for competing and preparing for the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo. It also allowed us to become fond of Edinburgh’s night life. I often miss our late night walks up the Royal Mile [the High Street] after closing time. It seemed that we could never hail a taxi. On those occasions we did, once we said home was the castle we were swiftly asked to leave the cab! But it’s great when the streets are all quiet.

• Do you have a set practice routine you could share with readers?
Not really. However, when on the pipe I do like to play through some 3/4s just to settle myself down before I start to worry about tuning.

• What’s your most memorable performance you’ve taken part in, either band or solo
When I was in the army, I had the opportunity to play at a packed Royal Albert Hall. This was for the closing night of the Monty Python 40th anniversary world tour. We played You’re The One, and Always Look On The Bright Side of Life along with a full orchestra and choir:

The crowd were all waving LED candles in the air and singing along. I still keep one of these in my pipe box today.

• What’s your most memorable performance you’ve heard – band or soloist?
When I was about 11/12 years old I went to Simon Fraser University Pipe Band perform at the pre-Worlds concert. I actually can’t remember too much about the concert other than they passed around a massive bag of jelly babies. I had never experienced anything like that before, and this just added fuel to the fire that was quietly burning away inside for pipe bands.  

• Who has been the biggest influence on your piping?  
My uncle Andrew Bunyan from Selkirk. He really got me into pipe bands in general and also tutored me for a while when I was learning chanter.

More recently, I’d have to say my close friend Ben Duncan from Edinburgh has been a big influence. As young Troopers within the Pipes and Drums of the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards we were always messing about with something piping and drumming related. He was always happy to lend a few tips when it came to my piping, something that he is still doing. Thankfully!

My father-in-law Robert (Rab) Russell has also recently joined the CLASP. As a far more experienced piper than me, he has been great at offering his help and advice. I probably wouldn’t be doing this without his encouragement.

• How do you relax and do you have other interests or hobbies?
I like to relax by drumming. There is nothing more satisfying than grabbing two pieces of wood and banging them off a piece of rubber. I do tend to get bored very quickly with scores so I’m always in the look out to play over fresh material as often as I can.

I also like to watch Scotland playing rugby. Especially when with a few beers in Edinburgh.

• Have you taken part in any show, concerts or recitals this year?
I was asked by my friends, Scott Black and Jason Sumner (who are instructors at Robert Gordon’s College) to perform for their school’s online St Andrew’s night ceilidh. It was great to help out old friends, and great to be able to focus on a performance. Craig Muirhead, who I work with at Strathallan, kindly offered to play piano along to my drumming and singing. I was too scared to pipe.

• What’s your favourite destination, either for a holiday or on a piping trip?
I’ve been to many different places that I have enjoyed, so it’s hard to say. But I have loved my several trips to Basel in Switzerland. This is probably my favourite place to go outside of Scotland.

Over more recent years I have also become accustomed to a wee jaunt over to Germany on Stevie Dewar’s Scottish Music Parade. If you have never been, then you should definitely add this to your pipe band bucket list.

• Do you have a go at the local language when abroad?
Eine Bratwurst und Pommes mit einem großen Bier bitte!

• Favourite piece of music – any music?
There are far too many to mention. I have lost track of how many times I have said to Stephanie, my wife: “This must be the best piece of music ever written!”

• Was piping something you wanted to do from an early age?
Yes. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t want to play in the pipe band, and in particular, an army pipe band.

• Which pipers did you aspire to, if any?
I have always love listening to military pipers and there are none better than Alasdair Gillies, Gordon Walker and now Ben Duncan. I fear this level of piping will soon disappear from the army. That would be a great shame, especially as most pipers out there will have a link somewhere back to the army’s various shapes of piping schools and courses over the years. Most likely through their tutor, or their tutor’s tutor.  

• Do you recall the very first competition you competed in?
As a piper, yes. This was a 6/8 march competition for novice pipers at the Army Championships in 2006. This was help at the Army School of Music and Highland Drumming in Inchdrewer House, Edinburgh. I was awarded fourth that day, and in front of two pipers from our band. At this point I was only considered as a drummer. You can only imagine what the senior boys in the band said to those other two pipers!

I was too young to remember how old I was at my first band competition. This would have been the Melrose Pipe Band Championships. I was with the Selkirk Pipe Band. I just remember loving it.

• Favour piobaireachd?
Lament for Mary MacLeod.  

• Any humorous piping anecdote you can relate to the readers (keep it clean!)?
A few spring to mind from my time with the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards. One anecdote would be on the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo. We used to have a great amount of fun on the finale when the lights went out for the Lone Piper spot. Although the audience were only a few metres away, because they were raised in the stands, they couldn’t really see us.

One year, I had been having a bit of banter with a drummer from the OTC Pipe Band. It started as idle threats to steal each other’s drums whilst the lights were out. This progressed to stealing each other’s glengarries and leaving it to the very last second to give everything back before the light came up. However, one night I had taken her drumsticks and the lights came back before I could give them back. This led to her marching down the esplanade in front of 9,000 spectators playing The Black Bear and Scotland the Brave with her bare hands on the drum. I am not sure I have laughed so hard.

I’ll not tell you what she did to me the following night. However, it was all good fun, and laughed over many beers.

• Thank you, David!