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Bagpipe band continues musical tradition

| Friday, January 17, 2014

The Notre Dame Bagpipe Band has shared their musical talent with football fans and the Notre Dame community since the 1950s, first as a part of the Irish Guard and now on their own.

According to the band’s website, the Irish Guard realized how detrimental the cold was to the bagpipes. The Guard continued without them, and the band slowly dismantled until former Notre Dame student and piper Paul Harren revamped it in 1991.

Danny Suma, sophomore bagpiper, said most students are not familiar with the band’s history.

band in stadium, provided by James ElliottPhoto courtesy of James Elliott

“Something most students don’t know about the bagpipe band is that when we re-emerged after splitting with the Irish Guard, we did not have the rights to the ND [kilts], so the pipers would wrap bed sheets and blankets around their waists to make kilts,” Suma said.

The band gained access to kilts in 2001, according to its website. Suma said the group became very involved in campus life, especially on football game days.

“The band performs during home games outside or inside of the dome, depending on the weather, and then does the player march from the library,” said Suma. “We also play small gigs and tailgates throughout the day.”

Suma said he most enjoys spending time with his fellow pipers.

“They’re all super outgoing and a fun group of individuals,” Suma said. “It definitely makes standing outside in a kilt in cold weather much easier.”

Senior piper Colin Patience has 7 years of playing under his belt and serves as the band’s pipe major.

“A pipe major is a captain of a bagpipe band that teaches new pipers, leads the band in performances and manages gigs and schedules,” Patience said.

“I joined the band day one of freshman year back in 2009,” Patience said.

“I was looking into the band before I even got accepted to Notre Dame. My favorite part of the band is performing on home football game days.”

Though their main events took place during football season, Patience said that students and faculty could look for the band next in Chicago, where the pipers will perform in the St. Patrick’s Day parade.

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About Emma Borne

Emma Borne started as a news writer for the Observer in Fall 2013. She is a senior majoring in Sociology and Peace Studies. She loves writing for the Observer because it allows her to participate in campus life in a way that she otherwise wouldn't and because she gets to work with some super talented, awesome people!

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