Veteran Piper Teaches In Orland Park

Veteran Piper Teaches In Orland Park
Posted on 12/29/2008

After several weeks of learning finger placement, note value and timing, the students in Terry McHugh's bagpipe class advanced to their first tune, "Amazing Grace."

Each of the students in McHugh's fall class with the Orland Park Recreation Department took turns playing parts of the song while the others followed along, silently moving their fingers along their practice chanters.

"This is a song that everyone knows and it's one of the easiest to play," McHugh said.

Similar in appearance to the recorder, the practice chanter is a double reed woodwind instrument on which students learn and practice.

"Like any other instrument or task, people who practice will advance," McHugh said. "Those who only practice on class day will learn a little slower," he added. "It's the time that people want to put into it," he added.

During the fall class, McHugh told his students, "When you're practicing at home and Mom or Dad says be quiet, you can still practice silently on your chanter."

A native of County Monahan Ireland, the Lockport resident has been playing bagpipes since the 1960s. He has performed with a number of pipe bands, including the Shannon Rovers, the Invermich Gaelic Society Pipe Band and the Doonaree Pipe Band.

McHugh founded Doonaree in 1991 and is the pipe major and bagpipe instructor. He has also taught bagpipes for a number of police departments.

Sharon Grill, whose daughter Penny is in the class, said, "Penny fell in love with the bagpipes about ten years ago at a St. Patrick's Day party. Whenever she hears them, she stops what she's doing to listen. She absolutely loves the sound."

Of McHugh's class, Grill said, "Terry is very nice and very patient. He's very encouraging in a calm way."

Paula Dziello, mother of thirteen year old student Ian, said, "Ian enjoys bagpipes because they sound so much different than all of the other instruments he plays," adding that her son plays piano, trumpet, saxophone, baritone and dabbles with guitar.

Orland Park Recreation Program Supervisor Stephanie Simpson oversees the village's cultural offerings.
"We were excited to add bagpipes to the Recreation Department's list of music classes because we offer other types of music lessons at the village's Cultural Center," Simpson said.

The village will offer bagpipe lessons on Wednesday evenings during its winter session, January 21 through April 15. Two sessions are available, one for ten to fifteen year olds and the second for those ages sixteen and older.

"A number of colleges now have bagpipe bands," McHugh said, noting the number of college scholarships available for students who play. "There are bands all over the city and across the country that people can join once they learn to play," he added.

Village residents pay $87 for the lessons while non-residents pay $131. Each student must also buy a practice chanter, available for purchase from the instructor for $70.00.

Each session is limited to twelve participants and registration opened December 5 for village residents and December 17 for non-residents. Registration will be available at Orland Park's Franklin E. Loebe Recreation Center, 14650 South Ravinia Avenue or the Village Sportsplex, 11351 West 159th Street.

For more information, call the Recreation Department at 708/403-7275.