I was born in Elgin, Scotland and started learning the bagpipes at the age of thirteen while I was at school. I joined the Army at the age of sixteen and after Infantry and music training I joined the Pipes and Drums of the Queens Own Highlanders. I gained my Pipe Major’s certificate with a distinguished grading in 1990 and the same year I won the Silver Medal at the Argyllshire Gathering and the B Grade March at the Northern Meeting. I also served on operations with the Queens Own Highlanders (Seaforth and Camerons) in the first Gulf conflict and in Northern Ireland and I served on operations in Bosnia with The Highlanders who were formed in 1994 with the amalgamation of the Queens Own Highlanders and the Gordon Highlanders.
I was Pipe Major of the 1st Battalion The Highlanders from 2000 to 2004 and the band competed in Grade 2 having been successful at various Pipe Band competitions in Scotland. In 2003 I was awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list for services to Army Piping. In 2004 I was posted to the Army School of Bagpipe in Edinburgh where I was the Pipe Major and then in 2006, I became the Senior Pipe Major of the British Army and Chief Instructor, I was the lone piper at the Edinburgh Military Tattoo that year playing on the ramparts of Edinburgh Castle. I left the Army in 2008 and became the Master in Charge and bagpipe instructor at the Edinburgh Academy, one of the top independent schools in Scotland.
I received the latest version of Highland Drone Reeds a few weeks ago and replaced them with the previous version. I have been playing these drone reeds for the last 10 years and want to say what a fantastic product they are. I had no difficulty in replacing them into my drones and had very little adjustments to make. The strike in was effortless and the deep sounding bass was noticeable instantly and blended well with the tenors. I noticed the sound of the chanter was projecting more on each note and the harmonics between the drones and chanter was more distinct than my old set of reeds. They are air tight, air efficient, easy to strike in and cut off, they tune easily and remain steady for a long time. The drones reeds are an excellent all round product which is suitable for pipers of all levels.
Attached is a recording with the new drone reeds. I recorded the same tune so maybe you want compare them.
I just had to put them in with no adjustment required and recorded the tune after a 5 minute blow.
Very good and I think a bit more depth in the sound overall between the drones and chanter.
– Michael Gray MBE (Former Senior Pipe Major of the Army School of Bagpipe Music)