By SHELLEY TOPP
The mystery of Rangiora’s lone piper has been solved.
The early-evening sound of bagpipes near Rangiora Racecourse comes from Colin Cameron.
The sixth generation Kiwi is learning to play the Highland bagpipes and practices most nights, weather permitting, at the Ashley Rakahuri Regional Park.
He has chosen the outdoors practice site out of consideration for his neighbours.
“I don’t want to upset them,” he says. But he prefers practicing in the park anyway because the spot he has chosen makes the experience more enjoyable. He also meets people, and their dogs, out in the park while he is practicing. It is a great way to relax, meet people and enjoy learning something new, he says.
Colin is a tradesman working on Ryman Healthcare’s new $100 million Charles Upham retirement village in Rangiora. He came to Christchurch five years ago for the construction work and is now living in Rangiora to be close to the Ryman’s worksite.
But that is a long way from his home and family in Taupo.
Instead of spending nights watching “boring” television he decided to learn a musical instrument.
He has been told that is not the easiest thing to do at his age of 50, but his Christchurch tutor, Liz Drury, who is a professional bagpiper, says he is doing well.
Colin has been playing the bagpipes for 18 months but began learning three years ago on a practice chanter, a double-reed woodwind instrument used as a stepping stone to the more complex instrument which is challenging to learn.
“You have to learn to blow, squeeze, play the chanter, control breathing, stamp your foot (to keep the beat) and learn music.
“Playing the bagpipes is like a workout,” he says.
“You have to learn to blow down like an opera singer.”
Colin has been to Scotland, home of the Highland bagpipes, a few times but so far he is the only person in his family to learn the instrument.
He is loving the experience and often recommends learning to play an instrument to younger people looking for something to do because it its “brilliant”.
NOTE: The McAlpines North Canterbury Pipe Band meets for practice sessions at the Band Room in Good Street Rangiora every Tuesday at 7.30pm.