Left to right: Master Corporal Gerard Corr (Abbotsford)

Langley pipe band hoping to drum up support from community

2277 Seaforth Highlanders would like to raise $30,000 to purchase instruments and uniforms and pay for music lessons

They’re a perennial favourite at parades. They bring a solemn grace to Canadian cenotaphs every Nov. 11. And they’re always a big hit at community events.

They’re bagpipes — and Langley needs more of them, says Karen Murphy Corr.

To help make that wish a reality, an online campaign has been set up in the hope of raising thousands of dollars for the  2277 Seaforth Highlanders of Canada, Royal Cadet Army Corps of Langley —  a group of 12- to 18-year-old musicians — to help them purchase costly instruments, receive quality instruction to play them well and to do it all in true highland style.

Altogether, the group hopes to raise $30,000 to cover a range of expenses associated with forming a performance-ready pipe & drum band, said Corr a member of the parent sponsoring committee, whose son, Gerard, plays the bagpipes.

Until the band, which formed in 2010, has proper instruments and highland gear, they cannot enter parades or participate in community events, such as Remembrance Day services, said Corr.

Unfortunately, the equipment they need to get started cannot be had for a song.

The band’s extensive wish list, includes 10 sets of highland dress, comprised of kilts, hose, dress shoes and sporrans, as well as tunics which, if they must be purchased through a tailor, could cost as much as $1,500 to $2,000 each. Ideally, she said, they’d prefer to purchase the jackets second-hand.

They’re also looking into the possibility of additional cost savings by having kilts made in the style that was worn during the First World War. Due to wartime rationing, the garments were pleated in such a way that they used far less fabric and were much less expensive to make, explained Corr.

In addition, the band requires a number of bagpipe chanters — at around $50 to $75 apiece — for those just learning to play,  as well as two additional full sets of bagpipes ($1,500 each) drums, sticks, harnesses and regimental insignia decals. The group has already purchased second-hand drums, but those are in need of at least $1,000 in repairs.

In addition to equipment, the young musicians need professional instruction. Last year, the cadets were able to train with the Surrey Seaforth Cadets, however that group’s lessons have been moved to Delta and Jericho Beach.

With many of the Langley cadets coming from Aldergrove and Abbotsford, that is simply too far to travel on a weeknight, said Corr.

“We need to pay for some quality instruction time for our cadets to set a solid foundation for their learning.”

The cost for lessons is around $75 per hour, per teacher. Two qualified instructors — one for pipes and one for drums — are required.

The cadets are not just looking for handouts, said Corr.

“If community groups could use some brawn, we’ll help.”

For the last few years the cadets and parents have volunteered to help the Langley Elks at their Hawaiian pig roast and it’s been a great experience, Corr said.

Because of safety concerns, the one activity the cadets are not allowed to do is direct traffic.

By raising the money as an organization, the Seaforth Highlanders are able to offer youth an opportunity to participate at no cost to themselves or their parents.

They’re always looking for new members as well and previous musical experience is not necessary.

“We want kids to know they can come out and do this,” said Corr. “How often do you get music lessons for free?”

The ultimate goal, said Corr, is that Langley would have a pipe and drum band that could perform for the community.

“The Cloverdale Legion, in particular, has been amazing,” said Corr. “They help how they can, but it would be great to be able to play for them.

“If you love to hear a quality pipe & drum band at community events, parades, and special celebrations we hope you’ll help us with ours,” said Corr.

To find out more, visit their website at www.2277rcacc.com.

To make a donation, click here.