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Aug. 4, 2005

Instrumental activity: Tokay High teen takes up bagpiping

Last updated: Wednesday, Aug 03, 2005 - 11:31:07 pm PDT

Bagpiping is not your average teenage activity. But Daniel Pazo, 15, a Tokay High School student, plays the bagpipe.

Until about 10 months ago, he was the only person in his family who didn't play an instrument. He had tried guitar, but it didn't work out for him. His dad Raphael Pazo, who plays the bagpipes regularly, started to teach him and one of his brothers. Daniel decided that was his instrument.

 "The bagpipes are not popular, and I thought I could play it because no one else does -- it's different," he said.

Even though he has asthma, and bagpipes are one of the hardest instruments to blow because of the amount of air needed to make a sound, Daniel caught on quickly.

"It's like playing four different instruments at once," Daniel said.

The bagipes include a chanter, three drones and a bag. The bag holds the air that's blown into it. Players play the chanter, which is similar to a woodwind instrument with a reed. Daniel said there's a science behind it, but he doesn't know what that is yet.

It took him five or six months to learn how to play the instrument, and he just joined the Mother Lode Pipe Band, where his father was already a member. He recently played at a wedding held at Bob Hope Theatre in Stockton. He also went to a bagpiper camp in Carlsbad where instructors from the College of Piping in Glasgow, Scotland, taught.

During bagpiping camp, participants auditioned to be put into classes. Most of the days were spent doing sessions with instructors and practicing; they also practiced all together for an end-of-camp concert. They played at two local pubs and restaurants as well. Daniel improved his technique and gained confidence while at camp. Camp participants can call the instructors in Scotland and ask for help; they can get instruction by cassette. He and his dad may take a trip to Scotland next year.

Daniel said some of his friends don't believe that he plays the bagpipes, and he has only played for one friend, who became interested in learning.

"This was our non-musical son," said his mother Susan. She said that Daniel caught on quickly when learning to play the bagpipes.

Daniel's older brother Thomas plays the drums and has a band; his younger brother Anthony plays the bass and clarinet; his younger sister Julie plays the flute; and his mother plays the french horn, trumpet and drums. His father "plays everything," Daniel said. But Raphael Pazo mostly plays the bagpipes, and his teacher is the world champion classical bagpipe player. Daniel, one of his brothers, and friends have considered, half-seriously, having a bagpipe rock band.

In general, bagpipe band members wear kilts, Daniel said. He doesn't have his own kilt yet, but Garrett Berreth, a kiltmaker who lives in Lodi, is making his kilt. They take 90 hours to sew by hand and include 10,000 stitches and eight yards of wool, Daniel said. Cost of the kilt depends on the kind of tartan (wool), style, how much it weighs, and options.

Daniel's hobbies are playing video games and Air Soft, reading and chatting with friends online. Air Soft is a sport using guns with plastic BBs that is not as messy, or as painful, as paintball, he said.

Daniel is interested in becoming a military doctor. His father and other people in his family were in the military.

"I want to be a doctor to help other people; it would be an interesting job," he said. "I always wanted to be in the military."

He added that he wants to serve his country.

"(The military) helps you become a better person and teaches skills you need in life," he said.

He recently took a tour of the hospital at Travis Air Force Base and went to a National Youth Leadership forum on medicine. There, they visited hospitals and clinics in the Bay Area and learned about various jobs in medicine.


Daniel Pazo

Daniel Pazo, 15, played the bagpipes for a wedding at Bob Hope Theatre, his first public performance. (Courtesy photo)

Bagpipe facts

There are many different bagpipes, but a common kind is the Great Highland Bagpipes, which have a bag, chanter, blowpipe and three drones.

Bag -- fills with air and supplies air to the pipes.

Chanter -- bagpipers play the melody on the chanter.

Drones -- pipes that produce harmony.

Gracenote -- complicated notes used for emphasis or as a musical way to get from one note to the next, as notes can't be separated easily (because the flow of air is constant).

Bands that play bagpipes:

Some modern rock, punk or metal bands sometimes use bagpipes including Korn, heavy metal band AC/DC, Irish-American punk rock band Dropkick Murphys and German heavy metal band In Extremo.

-- Source: http://www.wikipedia.com.

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by Dr. Raphael Pazo, Highland Bagpiper 


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