Madock took to bagpipes early on

July 06, 2005|by MARLO BARNHART

SMITHSBURG - Growing up in Dunedin, Fla., David Madock was introduced to the haunting lure of the bagpipes at an early age.

"The first time I heard a pipe band, it was an epiphany. The hair on the back of my neck stood up," he said.

With pipe bands in every school from elementary through high school, as well as two professional groups in Dunedin, Madock said he literally grew up with the music of bagpipes in his ears. Many times he would go to school in his kilts with the traditional swords and knives dangling from his belt.


Now 47, Madock completed his degree in music at Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Fla., then went on to Catholic University in Washington, D.C., where he earned his doctorate in music history. After a stint teaching music on the college level, Madock currently works in the retail music and arts field.

A resident of Smithsburg since 1997, Madock formed Band o' One so he could offer his services as a bagpiper for weddings, parties, funerals and other occasions in and around Washington County. He also plays at re-enactments, both for the French and Indian War and the Civil War.

Madock said he brought his family to Smithsburg because he likes the changing of the seasons. He and his wife, whom he met at graduate school, have two children.

With no large Scottish Irish population in this area, Madock said meeting fellow bagpipers hasn't been easy. He and Hagerstown firefighter/bagpiper Rick Conrad found each other while playing the bagpipes for veterans ceremonies and other events in the area.

"Some people are just born to it," Madock said. Proficiency can be reached in about seven years, depending on one's gifts.

One learns the fingering on a chanter, which produces a rather unpleasant sound but can be played very quietly. Then with the introduction of a real bagpipe, it's a question of practice, practice, practice, Madock said.

"The bagpipes are hard to play. It takes a lot of control, plus the instrument needs constant attention," Madock said. "It must be exercised regularly."

While most bags now are crafted from man-made materials, earlier models were made from animal hides that stiffened if not used regularly, he said. "A good set of pipes cost about $800," he said.

Madock is a member of the closest pipe band, the McMillian Pipe Band in Rockville, Md.

"I also found a teacher in Urbana (Md.). Chris Hamilton plays in the Washington (D.C.) Pipe Band, does judging and sells and services the instruments."

The town of Dunedin was settled in the late 1800s by Scottish immigrants, Madock said. "It was like a wee bit of Scotland on the Gulf of Mexico."

Edinburgh, Scotland, used to be called Dunedin, Madock said. "I journeyed to Edinburgh once with the Dunedin (Fla.) Pipe Band."

After the events of Sept. 11, 2001, many bagpipers got out of the business, Madock said. "Some pipers I've known were doing so many funerals - they told me they stopped looking at the families after awhile."

Madock said he often practices on the school grounds in Smithsburg, although any open field will do. "I've found that many people like the sound of the pipes. Sometimes they come out and sit in chairs while I play," he said.

Horses and cows seem to like the sound, but Madock's dog isn't crazy about his practice sessions.

For information about Band o' One, contact Madock at 240-818-8400 or send e-mail to

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