Five pipers piping

By By Ana Breton, By Ana Breton, and

By Ana Breton

It seems that everybody who plays the bagpipe remembers his or her first time.

For Trevor DeMass, it happened on Christmas day.

He was 11 years old, and it was his turn to receive a present during the family’s annual gift swap. DeMass opened his present and fulfilled a lifelong dream when he found a brand new bagpipe.

Unfortunately, he did not enjoy his success for long. He blew into the mouthpiece and passed out.

Now, after seven years of practice, DeMass, is a proud and competitive bagpiper.

So much, in fact, that he and four other U students have come together to create the Piping Utes, the first club of its kind in U history.

“Bagpiping is a big part in my life,” said DeMass, a freshman in pharmaceuticals. “I want to share that by teaching other students so we can keep this tradition alive.”

DeMass, who is of Scottish heritage, took lessons from the Dennis McMaster, who is known as the “dad of bagpiping in Utah.”

McMaster’s daughter, Cait, is also a member of the Piping Utes.

“All of my family actually plays, too,” said Cait McMaster, a freshman in medicine.

Dennis McMaster met his wife through a bagpiping group for which they both played when they were younger. One of Cait McMaster’s sisters also met her husband while they were both playing for the Salt Lake Scots.

“It’s about keeping the culture alive,” Cait McMaster said.

Cait McMaster, along with the four other members of the Piping Utes, plays with the Salt Lake Scots.

The five competed with the Salt Lake Scots in the 2003 Pipeman Championships and placed 27th in the world within their division.

But even though you don’t have to have a family connection to appreciate the instrument, having an interest in the Scottish culture is an important factor when it comes to wanting to play, DeMass said.

“It’s much better because your appreciation for your Scottish heritage is so much more and it really hits home,” DeMass said. “It’s really beautiful. There are no words to describe it.”

And when it comes to learning how to play, DeMass said players should not be discouraged their first time. Since the bagpipe relies heavily on a player’s breathing, the more each player’s lungs develop, the easier it becomes for him or her to play, he said.

“It’s hard sometimes because you have to keep the bag full of air at all times,” Cait McMaster said. “It takes a while, but you get used to it-it’s easier when you have the drive.”

Learning how to play, however, is not the only reward players will receive, said Kariann Hibbard, freshman in education.

“When you start piping, it’s not just about picking up an instrument-you’re actually picking up a culture, too,” Hibbard said. “It’s going to become part of you, and that’s what makes it fun.”

The Piping Utes hold free lessons for U students every other Wednesday starting Oct. 18. Aaron Wilson, club president, said once the group becomes more established, it hopes to play during football games and activities at the LDS Institute of Religion.

As for the group’s uniform, Wilson said the members will definitely be wearing the traditional Scottish kilt.

“And as far as what we wear underneath the kilt,” Wilson said, “you will just have to join us at our performances and find out.”

Christopher Peddecord

Aaron Wilson, nursing senior and president of the Piping Utes, plays “Utah Man” accompanied by other club members on the bagpipes at the club’s meeting Wednesday.