Aaron Shaw is known mostly as the piper with Wicked Tinkers. But Aaron has an extensive resume as a competitor, both in solo and band piping. Aaron started piping in 1976, buying his first set of pipes in Scotland. He began attending the College of Piping Summer Schools in 1982, becoming an instructor there in 1996. He studied in Scotland with P/M Angus MacDonald and Angus J. MacLellan.
Aaron has been a Piping Judge with WUSPBA since 2000 and, in addition to his private students, also teaches at the California Summer School of Piping and Drumming and the Jim Thomson US School of Piping and Drumming and various seminars around the country. Aaron makes his living as a piper, performing at innumerable private events as well as on TV and film. He's also recorded with a wide range of other artists.
Ken is a highly regarded piper, teacher, adjudicator and pipe band leader from the San Francisco Bay Area. His piping career has spanned more than five decades.
In 1975 Ken won the overall Amateur Piping championship at the Santa Rosa Games after a hard-fought playoff contest. He entered the Open Class the following year and continued winning prizes in contests up and down the West Coast. He also held leadership positions in the Prince Charles Pipe Band and the Culloden Moor Pipe Band. In the mid-80s until late-90's Ken was on hiatus from competition to focus on family and career, but stayed in the game as a piping judge for solo and band contests. Upon returning to the solo boards, Ken won the Angus MacDonald Championship in 2001 and competed in the US Piping Foundation Championships, the Livingston Invitational, the Henderson Imports Prize Pipe contest, the G.S. MacLennan Invitational, the Silver Medal and light music contests at the Argyllshire Gathering and Northern Meeting, the "Winter Storm" contests in Kansas City and numerous regional and local contests in North America and Scotland, capturing prizes in many of these events. In 2003 Ken won the inaugural "Winter Storm" Midwest Highland Arts Fund US Silver Medal for Piobaireachd. He subsequently placed third in the US Gold Medal competition twice since then. Most recently Ken won the Purgavie Horn for the Open Piobaireachd contest at Pleasanton in 2017.
Ken is Pipe-Major of the Prince Charles Pipe Band, the Western US Grade 2 Champion seven of the past nine years. The Band was a guest performer at the Festival Interceltique in Lorient, France in 2013 and 2017, and is bound for Scotland this summer to compete at the World Pipe Band Championships in Glasgow. Ken is an active piping teacher and solo and band contest adjudicator, and is Chair of the Western US Pipe Band Association Music Board with responsibility for adjudicator qualification, solo and band grading, and professional development.
Ken and his wife Sue reside in Menlo Park where they raised their son John - also an accomplished piper - and daughter Kathryn. His other interests include bicycling, environmental non-profit work, ancestry research and doting on his two Grand-princesses, Makenna and Avery.
Ed Best began his drumming career in 1982 with his Dad's Band in Grove City, PA where he competed in grade 4 until 1992. During which time he competed in the EUSPBA, MWPBA, and the PPBSO, winning many band and drumming titles throughout the USA and Canada under D/S Mark Humphrey. Ed then moved to the North Coast Pipe Band as the drum corporal, and competed in both grade 3 and grade 2 most notably, winning the North American Championships, the PPBSO Champion Supreme, and 4th Place at the World Championships. In 1998 Ed then moved to California to play with the LA Scots Pipe Band under D/S Carl Lenny. During his tenure the band place 11th at the World Championships twice and even won the drumming for the qualifying round. Ed then took over as D/S of the Misty Isle Organization where he developed a program and curriculum which took the band from grade 4 with only 2 snare drummers to a fully developed multi grade program with 16 snare drummers. 80% of these drummers were taught from scratch by Ed. The "A" band was promoted to grade 2, three years after Ed joined the band.
Ed is a professional educator with a Bachelor's Degree in Music Education, emphasis in percussion, from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania. He spent 10 years as a School General Music Teacher and Band Director in all grades from Elementary through the University level.
In 2005 Ed became a pipe band adjudicator. He is very active at Highland Games throughout the United States. He is an "A" panel drumming and ensemble judge in the WUSPBA and a drumming judge in the EUSPBA. He also serves on the Music Board of WUSPBA, where his primary functions are grading of bands and soloists and Adjudicator training/education and certification. He recorded a DVD for adjudicator training, available to the general public here http://www.wuspba.org.
Ed is a regular instructor for bands and schools across the country. He provides instruction to the drummers, helps with music composition and arranging. He also provides instruction in band ensemble. His individual students and bands regularly appear in the prize lists at highland games across the country. Ed understands that everyone is different and has different strengths and goals. He works hard to be sure that your needs are met. He has experience teaching ages 4 through 80.
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Major Bruce Hitchings, MBE BEM was born in Hunterville, New Zealand. He started playing the pipes at the age of nine. By the time he was sixteen he was playing with the New Zealand Champions - The City of Wellington Pipe Band. Bruce visited Scotland in 1975 with the band, and the following year, came back to compete around the Highland Games circuit for what he thought would be a couple of years.
Instead of returning home, Bruce joined the Black Watch Territorial Army as a Piper in 1977. In 1978 he enlisted as a regular into the Queen's Own Highlanders. The following year he won the Silver Medal for Piobaireachd at the Argyllshire Gathering. The Regiment always endeavored to have its top players compete at the Argyllshire Gathering in Oban and the Northern Meetings at Inverness where Bruce won numerous prizes including second in the March and Strathspey/Reel in 1980. Bruce continued to compete successfully around the Highland Games when his Army career permitted. He attended the Pipe Major's course at Edinburgh Castle in 1980-81 receiving instruction from Captain Andrew Pitkeathly and Pipe Major Angus MacDonald MBE and continued to receive on-going instruction from them until their deaths.
In 1986 he became the Battalion Pipe Major, a position he held for six years and during this time was awarded the British Empire Medal (BEM). The last eight years of his military career was spent in the post of WO1 Pipe Major, the Senior Pipe Major, British Army and Chief Instructor at The Army School of Piping, The Castle, Edinburgh. His main responsibility during this period was teaching future Pipe Majors for the British Army and was rewarded with the Member of British Empire Medal (MBE) for services to Army piping in 2000.
On completion of his regular service, Bruce was commissioned into the Territorial Army with responsibility for the development of piping within the Reserve and Cadet Forces. After a total of 33 years service, he finally resigned his commission (Major) in 2011, and continues to be held in highest esteem in military and piping circles.
Bruce set up the highly successful Highland Reeds company in 2000 and has developed new piping products with an aim to simplify the science of piping. His Balance Tone Drone Reeds and range of moisture systems are popular with pipers the world over for both their simplicity and effectiveness. He continues to work on innovative products to make the life of the piper easier.
Throughout his career Bruce played at many prestigious events for both the British Royalty and foreign dignitaries. He remains in demand as a piper through teaching and running schools and workshops in the U.S., Germany, Austria and France on a regular basis. Bruce also judges internationally and many of the Scottish Senior competitions, including the Silver Medal at the Northern Meetings 2013. He gives recitals in places as far afield as China, New Zealand and the USA..
In 2012 Bruce was appointed as a Board Member of the College of Piping and as a member of the Piping Committee for the Northern Meeting Piping Competition. He continues to be a Senior Examiner for the Scottish Qualification Authority (SQA) / Pipe & Drums Qualifications Board (PDQB).
Bruce has two sons, Seumas and Finlay who play in the pipe corps of the Ullapool & District Pipe Band which was voted Pipe Band of the Year at the MG Alba 2013 Traditional Music Awards. When time allows away from piping, Bruce enjoys hill walking and is usually joined by his dog, Trigger.
A native of San Diego, 34-year-old Colin Armstrong is the Pipe Major of the Grade 1 LA Scots Pipe band. The United States' Premier Grade 1 Pipe Band. Colin was promoted to Pipe Major in 2004 and under his direction the band has qualified for the Grade 1 World Championships Final in Glasgow Scotland on 3 occasions. At the age of 16, Colin was a member of the LA Scots when it won the 1997 Grade 2 World Pipe Band Championships-the first band from the US to do so. Before playing with the LA Scots, Colin was a member of the Prince Charles Junior Pipe Band of San Francisco. Colin is also a prominent solo competitor in the WUSPBA having won numerous solo prizes at home and abroad. Teaching bagpipes professionally, Colin has students of all age and skill levels and regularly works with pipe bands in the Southern California area. He is also an accredited piping adjudicator with the Western United States Pipe Band. Piping and its traditions are a family affair for Colin. Colin began his tuition with his uncle Pipe Major Scott MacDonald at the age of 10. His grandfather Ian MacDonald was also founding member of the LA Scots. Colin's mother Linda Armstrong is a world-class highland dance instructor and his sister Lindsey Armstrong is also a prominent bagpiper in the Southern California area.
Music is a full-time job for Colin as he is also a professional singer, songwriter and performer with numerous compositions of his featured on network and cable television throughout the world.
Ross Naismith was born and raised in San Diego, California and is first generation American. His grandparents were born and raised in Glasgow and Clydebank, Scotland. Family roots can be traced back hundreds of years to the small Scottish Isle of Tiree. San Diego is home to Ross, his wife Kristyn, and their daughter Isla. Ross began piping at the age of nine. A few years later he attended this very same summer school under the direction of Dugald MacNeil, Harry McNulty, Jimmy Young, Bruce Hitchings and Aaron Shaw. Much of what was learned in those early years stays with him to this day. It is both a privilege and an honor to be coming back as an Instructor.
Continuing his instruction overseas, Ross lived and competed in Scotland during the summer months for many years. In 2009, his dedication to the art of piping was rewarded with a first place win in the Professional Grade of piping at Invercharron, Scotland. Face to face instruction with Gordon Walker and Christopher Armstrong while in Scotland played a key role in his development. Today, back home in " the States ", Ross is a regular prizewinner in the Open / Professional Grade.
Around the same time he started attending this summer school, and at a very young age, Ross joined and was co-Pipe Major of the Alameda County Sheriff's Pipe Band under the direction of Helen and Tim Gladden. A few years later he joined the Grade 1 award winning Los Angeles Scots Pipe Band. For the better part of 10 years, from 2003 - 2013, he was a member. Presently, Ross is the Pipe Major of the local House of Scotland Pipe Band based in beautiful Balboa Park, San Diego, California. In addition to leading the House of Scotland, Ross is a member of the world renowned Grade 1 Dowco Triumph Street Pipe Band of Vancouver, Canada.
Teaching plays a significant role in his life. Along with teaching privately, Ross enjoys teaching the Pipe Band at Helix Charter High School in La Mesa, California. Spending every day with his students, he looks forward to making them just that little bit better, as there is always something to learn. Ross also uses his teaching expertise working with a local law enforcement band, the San Diego Law Enforcement Emerald Society Pipes & Drums. As one who loves to teach, Ross looks forward to meeting you!