The Pipes Come Out

by Annalise on October 18, 2009

Pipes at the Assumption School for Boys

Robin had his first opportunity to do a bagpipe performance for a local school. Our host is organizing more but this one was associated with the church we found here last Sunday. We’re definitely the minority here amongst the Hindus and Buddhists of Nepal but we are surprisingly close to one of the three churches in the Kathmandu area. The mass to our surprise was in English and the church although very new, had no pews but rather cushions for sitting in rows. After the mass, we were welcomed by the priest and two young nuns that worked at the school affiliated with the church. Sister Veronika and Sister Stella (recently arrived from her home in India to Nepal) were most interested in Robin’s school and activities for this year of travel. When they learned he played a musical instrument, he was immediately invited to come and perform for their school and students.

The performance was in front of 180 boys in a grade K – 6 school. The boys school is a fee-free school available to the poor of this area. This one is supported by the church and donations; if it were not for the charity run schools, many would go without even primary education. There is little evidence of an effective public school system here; all the schools we’ve heard about are private schools available for fees which are inaccessible to the poorer families in this city of roughly 4 million.

As we arrived to the school, the grade 6 boy who was sent to collect us told us he was very glad we were here; they had heard someone was coming today for a musical performance. As the group assembled, Sister Veronika showed Robin where they’d hoped he’s play from – a long gymnasium / stage area built of course of concrete and with a flat roof. My ears hurt just thinking of the acoustics! We suggested he could play in the door way if the volume was too much.

The performance started with a song sung by the boys in big energetic voices. As I heard them belt this out, I thought we’d do alright with the pipes in this building after all; their volume almost matched! None of these kids had ever heard the pipes before so it was great to get their expressions first as Robin pull this strange instrument out and then as the first drone notes and then the chanter kicked in. Their expressions only moved from amusement to bigger smiles as the tunes began. The littlest ones in front were playing with the sound by cupping their hands over their ears and opening and closing them. Any such exploration moved like a wave among the youngest boys as they continued in their rapt attention. The older ones sat, some whispering (well more likely yelling but unheard all the same) about the finger movements and the role of the bag and drones.

Robin played several of his tunes, and all of the really fun, fast jigs and hornpipes. The boys watched his fingers closely and really enjoyed when he disassemble the pipes for to demonstrate their components with explanation on how they worked individually and together. Judging by the grin on everyone’s faces, including Robin’s it was a hit performance. Robin certainly enjoyed the huge round of applause he received after each set and I think about a ¼ of the boys came up to say a personal thanks you and shake hands after the performance.

He’s already been invited back to play at their upcoming concert later in November. And so it begins. We’re looking forward to the next opportunity!

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Ria Welbourne October 26, 2009 at 11:39 am

Hi guys,

What a wonderful time you are all having. Robin, how nice that you could play your pipes at that school. Wow. What an opportunity,hey!

We miss you all here but it is nice to hear from such different locations and with such rich adventures.

Take care and God bless you on your travels!
Ria & Eric

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