Piping To Their Own Tune

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 By Alexandria Sese > Sophomore > English > University of Illinois at Chicago, Photo by Catherine Finsness > Sophomore > Psychology > The George Washington University

James McIntosh, MBE and Nick Hudson are two pipers that have been involved in one of the most unique
majors of the country: Bagpipes.

McIntosh, a piper hailing from Scotland, pitched the idea of starting a bagpipe major at Carnegie Mellon University, an institution with Scottish heritage, in 1990 with his colleague and follow musician, Elden Gatwood. The program proved to be a very promising one as McIntosh garnered interviews from Japan and Scotland about the
McIntosh began his piping career at 11 and received most of his training as a piper in the army in 1939. He later taught piping in countries as far away as Australia and Britain. Before teaching at CMU, he competed in bagpipes competitions that, he says, “in a way are very similar to the Olympics.” He won several awards not just for performing but also designing bagpipes.
The efforts of McIntosh and Gatwood in bringing about CMU’s bagpipes program paved the way for students like Nick Hudson to follow their dreams of piping.
Like McIntosh, Hudson discovered his passion at a young age. He started playing in 8th grade and performed all throughout high school. “I’ve been lucky,” Hudson says. Knowing he wanted to pursue piping made it easier for him to decide which college to go to, as CMU is the only university that offers a major in bagpipes.
“I’ve never been driven by money,” says Hudson when asked about his reasons for pursuing piping. “It was basically where my heart was.”
Hudson completed his degree in Music Performance in 2009 and completed his Music Education degree later that year. He now teaches full time to local bands and individuals. This spring, Hudson is travelling to France to perform with a group for a whole month.
 “Right now, I’m really happy,” he says. “I’d still be playing bagpipes even if I didn’t go to CMU.”
McIntosh, 88, is currently a retired instructor who still keeps a “full schedule” of teaching, recording, and writing music for bagpipes.
Both McIntosh and Hudson reaped the rewards of their commitment, dedication, and discipline in their craft: values that McIntosh says are essential to your success, piping or otherwise. So whether you’re majoring in bagpipes or mortuary science (yes, it’s a real program), as long as you’re determined, success should follow suit.

College Magazine Staff

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