View Full Version : Eric Rigler vs. Ann Gray
uncle Mario Tomasone
10-08-2004, 09:55 AM
I know this one could result quite stirring , but it was just a thought I had and decided it would be great to have other's opinion, so please keep in mind there's no offence intended - and here I go!
There's been some discussion about male pipers being requested just 'cuz they have to look the part but nobody cares about their playing level.
Pushing it to the extreme, I was wondering if someone would have ever considered to have a top lady piper like, say, Ann Gray playing at Mr. Reagan's funeral instead of Eric Rigler.
I would like to hear the Ladies' opinion about it.
No offense intended to anyone, but unless the deceased had left specific instruction I'll wait for the first Lady President to have a Lady piper accompanying her to the graveside.
Until this won't happen I think in such a formal situation a lad is mandatory - you know, since it's such a strongly military-influenced ceremony you stick to military old habits and you have a male piper.
10-08-2004, 10:04 AM
"No offense intended to anyone..." Mario: You asked for the ladies to respond, so I'll not weigh in on the topic, other than to suggest that almost everyone is already in trouble when they start with the above quote. Good hunting, though.
Cheers, Michael :wave:
uncle Mario Tomasone
10-08-2004, 10:10 AM
Well Racer, feel free to post it and comment in the beer tent - and be prepared to duck the stones thrown at :wink:
10-08-2004, 10:32 AM
Is this a wind up??
10-08-2004, 11:00 AM
You must be kidding.
10-08-2004, 11:05 AM
I could respond two ways to this...
First: My Realistic Response - Yes, I could see only men being chosen to play at a President's funeral. Why? Because this is a male-dominated position. While I long for the day when we have a woman president (I'm dying to hear "Ladies and Gents, The President and First Husband"), I don't see it happening soon.
Second:My Man-hating Feminazi response (just kidding! - Why the heck not can't a woman play for a president???
Something like Regean's funeral though is weird. I think appearance is just as important as sound, and I can't imagine a piper not wearing Number 1 dress for a state funeral. What would be the response to a top lady piper wearing full dress playing at that funeral?
10-08-2004, 11:06 AM
I was wondering if someone would have ever considered to have a top lady piper like, say, Ann Gray playing at Mr. Reagan's funeral instead of Eric Rigler.
My short and simple answer.....
Why shouldn't Ann Gray be considered for such? Eric Rigler did an absolutely wonderful job...in every aspect I can think of: demeanor/dress/performance to list a few. Would Ann Gray be any less capable of providing the same high standard set by Eric Rigler???
Now, if you are asking me if I think it is probable that a woman (Ann Gray or whoever) be honored with such a request I think you need only to refer back to the thread "What Is Your Band's Policy" that started this discussion for my answer. Hopefully one day this will change but as with most change.....it will take time.
Randy J. Homer
10-08-2004, 12:56 PM
I think having names involved makes this more difficult. Ann is Canadian. Reagan was a U.S. President. The funeral was in California where Eric is already active and well known through both TV and movie connections. Comparing the two individuals is not a fair discussion of the principles. If the question is whether a woman could do this, well of course! Just have one next time and watch the world somehow keep spinning!
10-08-2004, 01:16 PM
Besides the fact that Ann Gray is Canadian, I think it would have drawn comments and attention that a woman was playing pipes at Reagan's funeral. I don't imagine there would be much discussion about the gender of a vocalist singing Amazing Grace or any other musician asked to perform, but pipes are traditionally/historically a male-dominated instrument and the rituals associated with funerals, particularly state funerals, are rigidly traditional.
I know I would have taken note if it had been a woman playing at Reagan's funeral.
** Edit ** Randy beat me to the Canadian comment. My reply was interrupted by work...
10-08-2004, 01:42 PM
Stephanie's point about a male-dominated instrument gave me a thought (ever dangerous, by the way, for my thoughts can be regarded as WMDs :rolleyes: ):
Most of the Highland Dances were, if I'm not mistaken, male-dominated, or even male only. Certainly, the sword dance--or any war-like dance--would be an example.
For those in the know, when and how did the shift to more female domination take place? And though I'm not suggesting that piping will end up shifting to female domination (although I sometimes wonder about drumming from what I'm seeing), is it conceivable that there are parallels in acceptance or any other mechanism which will lead to the shift in direction? :shrug:
10-08-2004, 02:12 PM
Although none of us were around at the time -- remember reading in school history books about typewriters? When they were first introduced, only men were allowed to use them (too complicated for the female mind) and only men were secretaries (or switchboard operators, also). Those occupations became almost exclusively female, yet I'm sure no one could have conceived of that notion before it actually began to happen.
Historically, women have always found a way to make things happen even if we sometimes have to wait for the world to catch up (or on)!
Randy J. Homer
10-08-2004, 02:20 PM
Originally posted by Stephanie Allen:
...pipes are traditionally/historically a male-dominated instrument and the rituals associated with funerals, particularly state funerals, are rigidly traditional.
I know I would have taken note if it had been a woman playing at Reagan's funeral.I'll grant you that. :) What I'm thinking is that most people don't know those rituals and traditions. Is it not possible (I think probable) that what you and I would take note of -- would blow right by the rest of the world without them giving it a thought? Or at least, would you give me this: would the odd circumstance seem less odd the second time?
I say "Bring on the second!" I can deeply respect someone's devotion to sacred cows. Yet at the same time I can deeply regret seeing people starve while surrounded by sacred cows. I'd eat the cow! Join me!
AllisonB aka Sweet Reed
10-08-2004, 03:48 PM
First off, I can understand why Mario used Ann Gray as an example. She is well known and that makes his 'scenario' easier to imagine.
I can definately see a woman piper in full dress doing the funeral of a former President...or any other important person. I know that for occasions like that (worldwide news coverage,etc) the "look" is almost as important as the music but I really think a woman could put on all the same gear and look just as impressive.
I remember watching the Reagan funeral and thinking "gee, all that's noticeable is the uniform and pipes". In cases like that I think the 'person' behind the kilt, doublet, plaid, broach, glengarry, sporran, hose, flashes, spats, etc., etc., is almost invisible. You see the impressive, traditional uniform and you hear the soul stirring, beautiful music. Maybe the first few times a woman does something like that, people will notice...but (as piper2b and Randy pointed out) once it becomes accepted practice no one will really pay attention to the individual behind the music. Now, if we could just have someone break the 'barrier' in a big way that will make people sit up and take notice... :shrug: maybe then the music will take top billing and the piper's gender won't be such a big deal.
10-08-2004, 04:09 PM
I'd eat the cow! Join me! Pass the ketchup....
Randy, I agree with you that it would seem "less odd" the second (and proportionately even less odd in subsequent events). I am just anxious that it happen for a first time, and then we can make real progress in breaking down the stereotypes. It is happening – slowly. Every woman piper does a bit more to debunk the stereotype.
Gail Brown was my first instructor. She told me that she was the first woman competitor in a Champion Grade 1 band. I don’t recall the date (or the band) but it wasn’t that long ago (ie in my lifetime). I suspect that people like Gail faced much more prejudice than a woman in a Grade 1 band today.
There always has to be a first… so here’s to whoever she is :hatoff:
Randy J. Homer
10-08-2004, 05:59 PM
Originally posted by Stephanie Allen:
Every woman piper does a bit more to debunk the stereotype.I was taught to play by Ian MacCallum, who had been playing for 60 years and teaching for 40 when he started me as a student almost 35 years ago. Ian was very old school! We played open Cs, only light throws on D, no long hair (I watched him throw a guy out of the band about 1971 for refusing to cut his hair - hair meant more back then) and only Scottish people in the band!
But Ian had only two children, both daughters. Before he inherited this adult band that I'm still in (a family band), he had a juvenile band back in the 50s. He taught his daughter Heather to play the pipes, while sister Sheila played drums. After Sheila was sufficiently trained by Jimmy Craig (formerly of the HLI), she took over as Drum Major. Heather became Pipe Major and has a drawer full of medals from even way back then to show how well taught she was.
When Ian passed away about 1974, Heather took over as director of the band. And after a few years for maternity leave, became Pipe Major as well. She retains both positions now, even 30 years later. She still has fingers as good as ever and regularly plays for the dancers (oh so much younger than her grandchildren) because no one holds a tempo as well as her yet.
Sheila also served as Drum Major of this band until her death this past year, wherupon her daughter assumed the post!
There are more men then women amongst our 16 pipers and 5 drummers. But there are women in each corps. And you know, I just don't remember anyone ever making a big deal of it! I think I've probably said more about it in this post than in all these years. It was just who we were!
10-09-2004, 07:39 AM
I think Helen Gladden would have done a spectacular job at Reagan's funeral. Helen was the PM of the Alameda County Sheriff's Band in 1999 when they took 2nd to CoW in Grade 2 at the Worlds (pipe section took 1st, sorry to bring that up Tone Czar!). She's a student of Donald Shaw Ramsey. So, she's got the pedigree and the skill. She's a superior piping instructor and a damned good role model for any aspiring piper, let alone a female piper.
PS I think she also played for LAPD many years ago when Eric was PM, but I may be getting confused with Culloden Moor PB, another great but demised West Coast (left coast anyone?) pipe band.
PPS Talking about LAPD, anyone ever notice during the credits for Dragnet, that Sergant Joe Friday's LAPD badge number is the area code for Los Angeles? 714
Sorry guys, I'm on my forth cup of morning java, and it shows!
10-09-2004, 09:12 PM
I say let the males do the funerals [especially...no, nevermind...] and we'll do the movies and nude beach gigs.
10-10-2004, 02:13 AM
In many bands the women do their our hair up and wear the same uniform as the men. Therefore, it is not terribly obvious who is of what sex. I think that is the important part in a formal situation such as a funeral - not looking like a woman or a man, just a piper.
So... I think you would see a woman. I just don't think you would ever see a woman who looks like a woman, if that makes sense.
10-10-2004, 10:17 AM
Gail Brown played with Shotts & Dykehead Caledonia (P/M Tom MacAllister, D/M A Duthart) in either 1973 or 74 (possibly both) when they won the World's - at a time when the band competed in full dress.
Gail was also one of the first ladies to play in a Canadian Forces pipe band - The Highland Fusiliers of Canada in the early 1970's.
Canadian Forces Pipe Bands are open to women, and it is only a matter of time before someone completes the courses etc to become Pipe Major and is appointed to a band. Military Pipers play the lament at National Ceremonies, funerals etc, so its only a matter of time before a female piper is selected in Canada.
10-10-2004, 01:53 PM
Originally posted by piobgurl:
I say let the males do the funerals [especially...no, nevermind...] and we'll do the movies and nude beach gigs. How unusual to hear a woman [well...ok...gurl...I guess...oh, nevermind] :rolleyes: make a comment like that. Nude beach gigs??? :shrug: That sounds like a schoolboy dream come true. Is it possible that you might have been a bit gender confused when you registered and used Martha's homepage on your profile?? In this case, it isn't a good thing!
10-10-2004, 07:15 PM
Most people probably wouldn't even notice it was a woman if they were in full dress. one of my frineds saw me in a kilt and he barely recognized me. and i wasn't even wearing full dress!
people who are used to how people look don't have any problem with it which you can tell from other people's posts on the subject. if any of us saw that it was a woman i think the overall opinion is pretty good. :thumb:
10-11-2004, 06:51 PM
I could very well see a woman playing for a Presidents funeral. Women are doing many jobs in the modern military. The trick is she must look like a piper, not a duded up pidgeon like that picture in the thread about womens dress.
Perhaps MTV could do a ladies piping outfit show called "Pimp My Uniform". The suggested ideas in that other thread sounded really silly. Those outfits remind me of Aunt Bea on the Andy Griffith show.
Faugh A Ballagh
10-11-2004, 09:04 PM
I think that what would be required is a 'professional' piper first and foremost.
As is apparent by the posts here ....it would depend on who's doing the hiring.... seems if it was a woman choosing then there would be more chance that it would be a 'female' piper that would play ...
Once while piping at a funeral, I was approached by the director of the Cemetery (to be their 'piper' for funerals), some credited the offer to my playing abilities ... the suggestion was made by an 'experienced' member of the piping community that it likely could have been because he found the idea of having a 'pretty' female piper a novelty..... was meant as a compliment but frustrating to say the least. :confused:
10-11-2004, 09:30 PM
a 'pretty' female piper yes you are .... but you dont give yourself enough credit you are pretty darn good to! :)
10-16-2004, 01:31 PM
Yeah, women have to pretty AND pretty darn good to get the gig. :rolleyes: