The Instructors

Major (Retired) Bruce Hitchings MBE BEM of Edinburgh, Scotland

Bruce is the Principal and head instructor of the United States School of Piping. He was born in Hunterville, New Zealand, and started playing the pipes at the age of nine. By the time he was sixteen he was playing with the New Zealand Champions – The City of Wellington Pipe Band.

Bruce joined the Black Watch Territorial Army as a Piper in 1977. In 1978 he enlisted as a regular into the Queen’s Own Highlanders. The following year he won the Silver Medal for Piobaireachd at the Argyllshire Gathering. While competing at the Argyllshire Gathering in Oban and the Northern Meetings at Inverness, Bruce won numerous prizes including 2nd in the March and Strathspey/Reel in 1980. He continued to compete successfully around the Highland Games when his Army career permitted. He attended the Pipe Major’s course at Edinburgh Castle in 1980-81 and received on-going instruction from Captain Andrew Pitkeathly and Pipe Major Angus MacDonald MBE.

In 1986 he became the Battalion Pipe Major, a position he held for six years. During this time was awarded the British Empire Medal (BEM). The last eight years of his military career was spent in the post of WO1 Pipe Major, the Senior Pipe Major, British Army, and Chief Instructor at The Army School of Piping. His main responsibility during this period was the teaching of the future Pipe Majors for the British Army. In 2000, he was awarded the Member of British Empire Medal (MBE) for services to Army piping.

When he completed regular service, Bruce was commissioned into the Territorial Army with responsibility for the development of piping within the Reserve and Cadet Forces. After a total of 33 years service, he finally resigned his commission (Major) in 2011. Bruce is held in the highest esteem in military and piping circles.

Bruce set up the highly successful Highland Reeds company in 2000 and has developed new piping products with an aim to simplify the science of piping. His Balance Tone Drone Reeds and range of moisture systems are popular with pipers the world over for both their simplicity and effectiveness. He continues to work on innovative products to make the life of the piper easier.

Throughout his career Bruce played at many prestigious events for both the British Royalty and foreign dignitaries. He remains in demand as a piper through teaching and running schools and workshops in the U.S., Germany, Austria and France on a regular basis. Bruce also judges internationally and many of the Scottish Senior competitions, including the Silver Medal at the Northern Meetings 2013. He gives recitals in places as far afield as China, New Zealand and the USA.

In 2012 Bruce was appointed as a Board Member of the College of Piping and as a member of the Piping Committee for the Northern Meeting Piping Competition. He continues to be a Senior Examiner for the Scottish Qualification Authority (SQA) / Pipe & Drums Qualifications Board (PDQB)

Ed Best

He's a qualified, professional educator with over 30 years of successful pipe band experience and has a Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education.  He has held many band and solo titles in all grades including North American Champion, East Coast Champion Supreme, Ontario Champion Supreme, West Coast Champion of Champions, and Canadian Champion. Ed also spent 10 years as a School Music Teacher in all grades from Elementary through the University level.

Ed has competed in, and placed at the World Pipe Band Championships in Glasgow, Scotland in many grades up to and including Grade I.

Ed is active as an adjudicator at Highland Games throughout the United States.  He is an “A” panel drumming and ensemble judge in the WUSPBA and a drumming judge in the EUSPBA.  He also serves on the Music Board  of WUSPBA, where his primary functions are grading of bands and soloists and Adjudicator training/education and certification.  He recorded a DVD for adjudicator training, available to the general public here

Ed is a regular instructor for bands and schools across the country.  He provides instruction to the drummers, helps with music composition and arranging.  He also provides instruction in band ensemble.  His individual students and bands regularly appear in the prize lists at highland games across the country.  Ed understands that everyone is different and has different strengths and goals.  He works hard to be sure that your needs are met.  He has experience teaching ages 4 through 80.

Ann Gray

Originally from Nova Scotia on Canada’s East Coast, Ann Gray started playing bagpipes at the age 10. She quickly progressed through the amateur grades and into the Professional ranks of solo piping. She spent a number of years teaching and playing at the Gaelic College in Cape Breton, and also earned a Master of Arts degree in Celtic Studies from St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, Nova Scotia.

Ann moved west to Calgary, Alberta after finishing university, and established herself in the local piping and pipe band scene, not only as a piper but also as a snare drummer. In addition to numerous solo piping prizes throughout North America and Scotland, Ann is also a composer. She has published two volumes of bagpipe music, and many of her tunes can be found on pipe band, solo piping, and folk group recordings as well as her own CDs: A Twist in the Tale, Shouting at Magpies, and Tales of Magpies and Ravens.

Ann’s solo piping awards include include the MacCrimmon Cairn for piobaireachd and the professional piping aggregate at the BC Pipers’ Indoor competition, the Stone Mountain Highland Games Invitational Piobaireachd and open piping aggregate, the United States Piping Foundation aggregate, and the Dunvegan Medal at the Skye Gathering; placings in the North American Gold Medal piobaireachd at Kansas City, in the A-grade piobaireachd at the Cowal Gathering and also in the Clasp to the Dunvegan Medal at the Skye Gathering; and she has also earned the Alberta Society of Pipers and Drummers Professional Piping Annual Aggregate awards for both piobaireachd and light music numerous times.

Currently a member of the Hamilton Police Pipe Band, Ann is also an accredited adjudicator on the panel of her home association, the Alberta Society of Pipers and Drummers.

Dixie Ingram of Aberdeen, Scotland

Dixie started piping at age 9, joined the Scots Guards as a boy piper at 15, began his Pipe Major's Course at Edinburgh Castle at 22 and upon completion, returned to his Regiment, the 1st Battalion Scots Guards. In 1966 he began solo competitions and in 1969 became Pipe Sergeant of the 2nd Battalion Scots Guards, asking the Scottish Pipe Band Assoc. for the band's permission to compete and giving birth to the Regular Army Pipe Bands on the competition circuit. In 1976 they won the World Championship Grade II and were promoted to Grade I. He was the Chief Instructor to the Guards Depot Piping School in 1979, training Pipers and Drummers for Scots and Irish Guards and from 1981-84 they won all five major championships in Grade III. In 1985, he was commissioned as the Transport Officer of the 1st Bn Scots Guards, severing ties with the band and eventually joining the Caledonian Airways Pipe Band (now Scottish Power) where he instructed the southern half of the band at Gatwick. Since obtaining his qualifications to judge he has served on all panels for over 20 years judging in all Grades at the major championships. He is currently teaching piping to 50 students at 10 schools who range in ages from 8 - 18 years of age. His accomplishments as an instructor are second to none and he is a highly sought after tutor of the bagpipe.

Aaron Shaw of Los Angeles, California 

Although most people know Aaron as the piper with the Wicked Tinkers, Aaron has an extensive resume as a competitor, both in solo and band piping.  He’s a judge with WUSPBA and, in addition to his many private students, also teaches at piping summer schools and seminars around the country.  Aaron makes his living as a piper, performing extensively at private events as well as on TV and film. He’s also recorded with a wide range of other artists. Aaron began piping in 1976. He began attending the College of Piping Summer Schools in 1982, becoming a teacher there in 1996. He studied in Scotland with P/M Angus MacDonald and Angus J. MacLellan.

Some of the piping awards that Aaron has won include the Strachan Trophy for A Grade MSR in London 1998, the James Naismith Memorial Targe for Professional MSR at the San Diego Highland Games 1997 and 1999, the John MacPhee Trophy for Top Grade One Piper, Monterey Highland Games, 1994-96,  the Silver Chanter for Top Grade One Piper, Costa Mesa Highland Games, 1997, the Amateur Grade One Aggregate Winner, Queen Mary Highland Games, 1997, the Capt. William Mossie Trophy for Piobaireachd, Monterey Highland Games, 1994-96, and the Jim Thomson Memorial Trophy and Scholarship, Costa Mesa Highland Games, 1995 and 1997.

Aaron has been a WUSPBA Piping Judge since 2000. He is a founding member of Wicked Tinkers and Forest for the Trees. He was a piper with the Los Angeles Police Pipe Band, Grade 2 from 1994-2000. Some of his other accomplishments include study in Scotland at the College of Piping and Piping Centre, Glasgow, certificates in Senior Piping and Teaching from the Institute of Piping, Scotland, and a Level 6 Certificate from the Piping and Drumming Qualifications Board.

Aaron teaches annually at the College of Piping summer school (Carlsbad, California), the Jim Thomson U.S. School of Piping (Flagstaff, AZ) and the Monterey Bay School of Piping (Monterey, CA).

Some of his selected credits for television, film, and recording include “American Idol,” “The Fugitive” (sound track), “So I Married an Axe Murderer,” “The Big Tease,” (on-screen appearance), “The Late, Late Show with Craig Ferguson,” ( Musical guest for Emmy nominated episode), “Don’t Forget the Lyrics” (on-screen appearance), “The Drew Carey Show,” (on-screen appearance) and “Friends.” (recording and training for cast member)

The Wicked Tinkers have recorded six CDs, including "Wicked Tinkers, “Hammered,” “Loud,” “Banger for Breakfast,” “Whisky Supper,” “Rant," along with two tapes, "Brutal” & “Banned"

Robert J. Watt of Londonderry, Northern Ireland

World champion piper Robert Watt from the small town of Maghera in Ireland has achieved many of the highest awards for solo piping and pipe band playing.  His diversity and talent represents Celtic music from the ancient Piobairechd to the modern day.  As well as the Great Highland Bagpipe, Robert also plays a range of Irish whistles and the bellows blown Lowland and Border Pipes.  Some of his achievements for solo piping competitions and performances include the prestigious Highland Society of London’s Silver Medal for Piobaireachd, a record seven times winner of the MacCrimmon Trophy at the world's greatest Celtic Festival in Lorient Brittany, several ‘All Ireland’ titles and many others throughout the USA, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Africa and Asia.  Robert has also played for a number of years as part of the world famous Field Marshal Montgomery Pipe Band at the highest level in band competition.  When not on the road performing and teaching he enjoys living in Austria on 'The Green Hill’s of Tyrol,’ where he finds much inspiration for many of his compositions.

Gordon Brown of Scotland 

Gordon was born in Whitburn, West Lothian, and showed a keen interest in drumming from an early age. His father, Drum Major Tom Brown, instructed him in those early years. In November 1976 he joined the Boghall & Bathgate Caledonia Novice Juvenile Band.

In February 1977, Gordon placed 6th in the Juvenile Section of the World Solo Drumming Championship. That season, Gordon and the Novice Corps went on to win the Drumming in the five Major Championships.

In 1978, the Grade 3 Adult Band was upgraded to Grade 2 and Gordon became a member of the Drum Corps under the leadership of his father. During the seasons of 1978 and 1979, the Grade 2 Drummers gained about every major championship-Drumming award. On the solo side, Gordon won The World Juvenile Solo Drumming titles in 1980 and 1981.

Gordon began teaching at his dad’s famous “Tuesday Night Drumming Class” in Whitburn. It is interesting to note that just about every drummer during that time with the Boghall Grade 1 Band came through Tom’s famous school.

Gordon and the Boghall Band were promoted to Grade 1 Status in 1980. In their first season, they won the Cowal Drumming Championship. The next three seasons saw them lift a fine hat trick of World Drum Corps Championships; 1981, 82 and 83, and 86. One of the proudest moments and memories for Gordon and the Boghall Drum Corps was being the First Drum Corps to win the “Alex Duthart Memorial Trophy” for the Grade 1 Champion of Champions Drum Corps. Boghall’s Novice and Juvenile Corps also won the title in their respective grades that season.

Gordon began instructing the Novice and the Juvenile Drum Corps within the band, winning many major drumming awards through the 80’s and 90’s. The most recent wins with the Juvenile Corps were the World Drum Corps Titles in 2009 and 2010, and The British Title 2011.

In 1991, Gordon took over as Leading Drummer of the Grade 1 Corps from his dad and he won his first Major Drumming Award as Leading Drummer, winning the European Drumming Title. Gordon has won the Scottish, British, European and Cowal Championships with both the Corps and as a Band, as well as winning The Best Drum Corps and Bass Section at the 2001 World Championships. Recent title wins include the Champion of Champions Drum Corps Prizes in 2007 and 2010. The Corps also gained first place in the British, European, Cowal and the Worlds (MSR & Medley) in 2012, making them Champion of Champions Drum Corps.
Gordon was also named "2012 Drummer of the Year" in the 10th Annual Pipes / Drums Honour's List.
In 1994 Gordon’s won 1st place in the World Solo Drumming Championship, fulfilling a life-long dream. Gordon won 1st place again in the 2002 event.

Gordon has followed his father’s footsteps by teaching. He has taught throughout the UK, Europe, South Africa, the United States and Canada. With his achievements as a solo player and as leading drummer of the Grade 1 corps, he is sought all over the World for teaching workshops and seminars. He continues to teach the Juvenile Drummers in the Band.
He unselfishly continues to pass on what he regards as a Noble Art, especially to youngsters, to make them the Drummers of the future. Gordon has about ten (10) young players who have advanced through the Novice and Juvenile ranks and achieved Grade1 status over the past 4 – 5 years.

Another personal goal is to win the World Championship with the Boghall Band.

Gordon is a fully qualified Trainer/Assessor (SVQ D32, C25). He currently instructs at the Glenalmond College and Morrison’s Academy, both in Perthshire.

Gordon and his father own and operate TG Drumming (, a drumming supply business, which includes their own T.G. & Tom Brown branded product line. He is also heavily involved in product development with Andante Percussion ( and is an endorsee of their Andante Drum Range. Gordon also works with Drumming on Demand (, a website with Drum Manuscript down-loads and access to instructional videos.

Andrew Carlisle

Andrew Carlisle is originally from Ballygowan, Northern Ireland and since 2010 has lived and worked in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania as a Professor of Music and the Director of Piping at Carnegie Mellon University. Andrew is in constant demand as a performer, instructor, and adjudicator throughout the world. He has performed in over twenty countries, across four continents: most notably at The White House in 2008, and in front of 50,000 people at the Oz Stadium in Sydney, Australia in 2010.

Andrew is one of the world’s leading solo pipers and has won numerous prestigious awards including:
The Gillies Cup for Piobaireachd at London, UK (one of the most coveted prizes in solo piping)
The A Grade Strathspey and Reel at The Argyllshire Gathering, Oban, Scotland
The A Grade Piobaireachd and Overall at The Cowal Highland Gathering, Dunoon, Scotland
The US Gold Medal for both Piobaireachd and Light Music at Kansas City, Missouri
The Metro Cup Light Music Medley Champion at Newark, New Jersey Five United States Piping Foundation Championship wins at Newark, Delaware
The Macallan Trophy on three occasions at Lorient, Brittany, France
The William Livingstone Memorial for both Piobaireachd and Light Music at Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
The Toronto Indoor Gathering, Toronto, Canada The Gordon Duncan Memorial on two occasions at Glasgow, Scotland
The British Army Championships at Edinburgh, Scotland And three All-Ireland titles at Senior level.

For twenty years, Andrew has been an active member of the world renowned Field Marshal Montgomery Pipe Band, sharing in the success of over forty-five major championship wins, including nine World Pipe Band Championship wins. He has been featured as a soloist on the band’s ‘Re:Charged’ and ‘Impact’ albums.

Since 2012, Andrew has been the Artistic Director, Pipe Major and Senior Arranger for the annual Virginia International Tattoo; a production involving 900 performers held eight times each April in the 8,000 seat Scope Arena in Norfolk, Virginia.
Andrew has been a fully qualified adjudicator for solo piping, Piobaireachd, pipe bands and ensemble with the Eastern United States Pipe Band Association since 2010.

Andrew was the featured artist in a one hour television program recorded by the BBC in 2016 entitled ‘The Castle Session’ performing the Great Highland Bagpipe, Scottish Border Pipes, Scottish Smallpipes, low whistle and penny whistle.
Since arriving in 2010, Andrew has transformed the Carnegie Mellon University Pipes and Drums into one of the leading pipe bands in the United States. In 2019 and 2022, the band were crowned Grade Three American Pipe Band Champions at Norfolk, Virginia winning both the traditional March, Strathspey and Reel and contemporary Medley Selection categories.