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Please tell us a little about yourself and the Scottish Power Pipe Band.

Born and raised in Denmark, I started playing the drums in 1991 at the age of 11 and enjoyed playing with several different pipe bands in Denmark. In my early years of learning the drums, I received instruction from Per Noerklit, Sven Harboe and Jens Hedegaard, who all played a vital part in inspiring me to work at my drumming.

I moved to Scotland back in November 2000 to join the drum corps of the Shotts & Dykehead Caledonia Pipe Band, led by Jim Kilpatrick MBE. During my time with the band I took part in winning all of the major pipe band championships, including the Grade 1 World Pipe Band Championships in 2003 and 2005. Our drum corps during this time won all five major drumming championships many times over, including the World Drum Corp title in 2002, 2003, 2005 and 2014 along with seven Champion of Champions Drum Corps titles.

In October 2010, after 10 years with Shotts, I took on the leading drummer position with the Lothian & Borders Police Pipe Band, where I began to build my own corps. Following the disbanding of the police band in late 2012 I returned to Shotts for two seasons and the corps regained the World Drum Corps title in 2014.

I was appointed the new leading drummer of the Grade 1 Scottish Power Pipe Band in October that year and I have enjoyed working with a bunch of very talented people. The band has been fourth at the last few majors and we recently took second in drumming at the Scottish Championships, so things are coming on great. In the solo drumming arena, my highest placing to date is a sixth place at the 2014 World Solo Drumming Championships.

As a professional drummer do you have a ‘day job’ and how is this affected?

I teach pipe band snare drumming full-time at George Heriot’s School in Edinburgh and I currently have a list of 50 pupils ranging from 7-17 years in age. We have three full size pipe bands at the the school, all of which of course have their own repertoire. Part of my job is to compose all the drum music for the bands and this, on top of all the composing for Scottish Power Pipe Band, attending weekend competitions and teaching ‘conveyor belt-style’, makes for a very busy life.

How and when did you get into pipe band drumming?

As I said, I started playing the drums in 1991. I played the bass guitar and the drum set as a youngster and it so happened that a parent of one of the other kids in my after school club was a piper in a danish pipe band! They were looking for drummers and so I thought I would give it a try. The rest is history as they say.

What was it about pipe band drumming that attracts you to it instead of say, rock or jazz drumming?

I love music of any kind, but one of the things that attracts to me to pipe band drumming is the intense focus on the rudiments and technique and the attention to detail that it requires to get it right. Other than that I just love the traditional Scottish music and the sound of the bagpipes and I particularly enjoy composing drum scores for this style of music.

Who would you consider your favorite or most influential percussionists, pipe band or otherwise and why?

A lot of people have influenced and inspired me as a young drummer in Denmark, but if I was to name one person who has influenced my drumming the most it would have to be Jim Kilpatrick MBE. I played alongside Jim during my 12 years with Shotts and Dykehead Pipe Band and his approach to technique and drumming in general is something from which I have learnt so much.

Other favorites of mine are the spellbinding skills of Steve Gadd and Thomas Lang, but also the grooves and feel of likes of David Garibaldi and Phil Collins have influenced my musical taste.

Which events would you consider ‘defining’ moments in your career and why?

Joining the drum corps of the Shotts and Dykehead Pipe Band were a dream come for me. I had my eyes on this target for a number of years as a young boy and the feeling of achieving success, taking the decision to move countries and jump into the unknown. To actually experience this with the band allowed me to grow hugely as a player and a person.

In teaching, I was lucky to be able to build a career on passing on my skills as a drummer. 15 years down the line, this has turned out to be equally rewarding and I am thankful to be teaching some of the brightest young individuals in the country at George Heriot’s School. Their biggest achievement to date is winning the 2014 World Drum Corps Title in the novice juvenile grade at the World Pipe Band Championships.

What’s your Premier corps set up and why do you choose it?

We use the HTS series snare drums and the Professional Series bass and tenor drums. The reasons I have chosen to play Premier drums are the sheer volume, clarity and projection of the HTS snares and the beautifully resonant and easily maintained Professional Series bass and tenors.

What are your feelings about the future of pipe band drumming in general? 

I think the future is looking bright for this art form. The Scottish government has in recent years put a lot of funding into introducing piping and drumming in the schools in most areas of Scotland and this has had a real effect on the number of youngsters learning pipes and drums today. So, in terms of the art form carrying on into the future, I think things are looking very healthy at the moment, which is great to see.

The art form is however changing, I feel that some extremely valuable changes have taken place in pipe bands over the last decade. Especially in terms of the increase in the importance of bass sections and how the tuning of the drums has become so accurate and integral to to the sound of pipe bands. The size of pipe band has expanded hugely over the last decade as well and while some bands are doing a great job playing with big numbers, I feel that when it comes to the size of pipe bands we have just about reached what I would call a sensible limit. If bands continue to grow bigger, I feel we may lose that intimate and closely nit sound that pipe bands are known and admired for.

Finally, do you have any advice for aspiring drummers out there? 

  • Hard work always pays off!
  • If you have been working on the same thing for a long time, take rests and come back to it.
  • Try to get individual tuition from a good player/teacher.
  • Remember, you can learn from everyone - even players who are not as good as yourself!
  • Watch and listen to top players performing.
  • Never stop practicing rudiments!

Jake and Scottish Power will be competing for the Grade 1 title at this weekend’s World Pipe Band Championships. Premier will also be in attendance at the Traders Village with products, accessories and sales support. 

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