The City of Dunedin Pipe Band and the Dunedin Scottish Arts Foundation would like to welcome Eric MacNeill to Dunedin, Florida! Eric has accepted a position as Drumming Director for all of Dunedin’s Scottish Programs including the Middle School, High School, and adult City bands (6 bands in total). Eric, the former Drum Sergeant of the Grade 1 Oran Mor pipe band and currently a corps player with Simon Fraser University, is living in New York and moving to the Dunedin area at the end of August 2015.
Dunedin has long been known as a center of piping and drumming in the Southeastern United States. Programs have flourished under the tutelage of many long-term Pipe Majors during the program’s more than 50-year history. But Dunedin has never had permanent, full-time, drumming tuition. With Iain Donaldson taking over as Piping Director in 2011, the school systems are producing top-notch players that are now moving through the ranks filling piping spots within the adult bands. It’s now time to focus a similar effort with that level of intensity on the drumming side and build a sustainable drumming system that will allow us to compete at all levels across the world.
As Drumming Director for the Dunedin Scottish Programs, Eric will be responsible for teaching all of our school students and adult bands’ drummers as well as taking over the Drum Sergeant position in the City of Dunedin Pipe Band’s Grade 2 unit. Eric is currently a member of the world-renowned Simon Fraser University Pipe Band (SFU) and a professional solo level competitor. He is one of the top-ranked Professional Drum Majors in North America and also competes in solo bass and tenor contests.
“I am very excited about this new opportunity to get involved in the pipe band community in the City of Dunedin. Over the past several years I have noticed the City of Dunedin band making lots of improvements. There is clearly a great attitude in the band and impressive support from the local community. I am looking forward to working with Iain Donaldson, relocating to the area, and rolling up my sleeves to help make the City of Dunedin drumming program one of the best in North America,” said Eric MacNeill.
Eric grew up in a pipe band family and was immersed in pipe bands and drumming since he was a toddler. He began competition in 1992 as a Drum Major competitor and went on to win the Amateur Drum Major North American Championships in 1996 and 1997 before moving to the professional grade and winning the title four times at that level. He joined the Oran Mor Pipe Band as a tenor drummer in 1996 and soon after moved to the band’s snare line. In 2000, mentored by Reid Maxwell of the Simon Fraser University Pipe Band, Eric became the lead drummer for the grade 2 Oran Mor Pipe Band and stayed in the position through the 2012 season. In 2009, the Oran Mor Pipe Band moved to grade 1, and in 2011, Oran Mor qualified for the grade 1 final at the World Pipe Band Championships in Scotland. Since the 2013 season, Eric has been a member of the 6-time World Champion Simon Fraser University Pipe Band.
Since 2006, Eric has been a full-time pipe band drumming instructor, based in the northeast US, where he teaches many private students and has worked to help several bands develop their drum sections. Most notably, Eric has been active in building up the Scotia-Glenville Pipe Band teaching program, who won the Novice-Juvenile World Pipe Band Championship title in 2012. He is also active as a clinician at weekend drumming seminars and week-long camps during the summer.
Eric is an active solo snare drumming competitor at the professional grade level and has been Eastern United States Pipe Band Association Professional Season Champion several times, most recently in 2014. He is a regular prize winner at the Kansas City snare drumming Gold Medal contest and has been a semi-finalist at the World Solo drumming Championships in Scotland four times. Eric served as president of the Eastern United States Pipe Band Association from 2010-2014 and is currently a certified snare drumming and ensemble adjudicator, as well as a member of the Association’s Music Board.
Dunedin Scottish Programs Leader Thoughts
Iain Donaldson, Piping Director of Dunedin’s Scottish Programs, comments “I am elated to have the talent of Eric MacNeill joining Dunedin’s Scottish Programs and Drum Sergeant of the City of Dunedin Grade 2 Pipe Band. Eric’s ability to lead, infectious enthusiasm, and style of drumming is a perfect fit for our organization. I look forward to his role in teaching the drumming community here in Florida.
Alan McHale, President of the Dunedin Scottish Arts Foundation, said “The Dunedin Scottish Arts Foundation is so proud of the success of the City of Dunedin Pipe Band. We are delighted that they are bringing in a drum tutor of the ability and reputation of Eric. The DPB currently has a very capable drum line, and with Eric’s help I have no doubt that he will lift these talented musicians to new heights so that the band can compete and win a World Championship for the City of Dunedin.”
Tim Garren, current City of Dunedin Pipe Band Grade 2 Drum Sergeant, comments “I couldn’t be more excited to have Eric’s level of talent and leadership coming to Dunedin. He has a proven ability to grow talent, and that’s what we need to take our drumming to the next level. We have an amazingly gifted pool of drummers here in Dunedin and the state of Florida. I’m looking forward to working with Eric and harnessing that talent to build a sustainable drumming program that will carry us into the next 50 years.”
Bo Taylor, President of the City of Dunedin Pipe Bands and member of the Grade 2 drum corps, mentions “It’s like getting the first pick in the NFL draft and no one else gets a pick! Eric came to Dunedin this year in a couple of different workshops to help lift our drum corps up to a Grade 2 standard. He immediately connected with our drum corps, and the kids in our school system loved him. He’s simply a great fit. Young, smart, incredibly talented, just the full package. I’ve been involved in the band for 35 years now, and we’ve always been able to set the standards in drumming in the South. We want to be on the world stage, and with Eric’s help, we can achieve that.”
Photo credit: Julie Johnson Dowd –RedHenStudios (@RedHenStudios on Facebook)
What’s Next for the City of Dunedin Pipe Bands?
The City of Dunedin Pipe Band’ Grade 4 unit will be attending the Stone Mountain Highland Games this year in October. The Florida competition season then runs from January – April 2016 in which all 6 bands will be competing. The Grade 2 band is planning on attending the Virginia International Tattoo American Pipe Band Championships Grade 2 competition in April 2016. The Grade 2 and Grade 4 bands are planning another trip to Maxville for the North American Pipe Band Championships in July 2016.