Chris Lochhead: Living the Bagpipe Dream

Brandon Barr, Sports Editor

Star football center Chris Lochhead has a talent that may seem out of the ordinary, and if you think you know him, out of character as well. For his senior project, he decided to learn how to play the bagpipes. This wasn’t just a spur of the moment “I’m going to play the bagpipes.” Chris has a big reason for making this his senior project, “I’m Scottish, and I feel that this is necessary because of my Scottish blood.” Family is an important aspect of Chris’s life, and this is shown further by the fact that the bagpipes he is using for his project is actually his great grandfather’s bagpipes. “My great-grandfather, Angus Tulloch Lochhead I, came to America from Scotland when he was just a boy.  His son owned as a set of great highland bagpipes that were made from African blackwood, ivory and an kept in an elk-hyde bag.  The pipes are about 100 years old are worth anywhere from $7,000-$10,000, but to me and my family, they are priceless.”

Chris worked on the project every day since early December and says he worked for at least 15 minutes, but at times he would practice for more than an hour. When asked about the hardest part, he says it was, “controlling the air, and keeping constant noise.  At first, when I would try and fill the bag with air, I would get light-headed and almost pass out.” The easiest part for him was learning the notes and the names and says he got that down in about an hour.  “I am already a musically talented person,” Chris states.  “I have played the guitar most of my life and can play the banjo. I do believe that when I perform for the class, it will be the first time a lot of the people in the room have ever heard the bagpipes live and up close.  Over the past few months, while I’ve been learning how to play the bagpipes, I feel as if I have gotten in touch with my Scottish roots and heritage.  It is something both my father and grandfather tried to do but could not.”

At the end of his project, Chris wanted to be able to say the played the same pipes as his great grandfather. He also wanted to be able to play the bagpipes with his family at the family reunion over the summer and Chris was invited to play with the Tucson Highlander Bagpipe Band.  “This made me very sad yet quite honored, my grandfather told me that when he dies, he wants me to play Amazing Grace at his funeral.”