Bagpiping is not like playing any ordinary musical instrument. The traditional Scottish pipes come with a tradition that makes those who play them part of their history. Such is the case for Marblehead resident Julie Hahnke. She thinks of herself not just a musician, but as an historian too. She always plays wearing the full traditional clothing and accessories. In her case that includes a Glengarry cap decorated with the badge of a Canadian regiment which was awarded battle honors for their contribution during World War I. She also wears a kilt resembling traditional kilts in coloring and pattern. Julie dons a fur sporran which looks a bit like a purse, an Argyle jacket, garters, and traditional Scottish mud-proof shoes called ghillie brogues.
Hahnke was born in Pennsylvania and attended Dartmouth College. She found her way to Massachusetts, living in Swampscott for a time, and now in Marblehead. She is a dedicated sailor, and her introduction to the bagpipes came while she was judging a sailing race in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
“I heard so much piping during that time — there is an eerie sound to the music,” she said.
There is a saying that goes: “Seven years it takes a piper to make.” But in Julie’s case, two years of intense practice was all that was needed. She began her bagpipes journey in 2001 and now she plays at a wide range of occasions and events. She can be found piping at weddings, funerals or educational activities. This month she has a gig playing in the streets of Marblehead as part of a Veterans Middle School history walk.
Some of her performances can be quite emotional for her. She explained that she feels honored to be able to perform at a funeral and she often finds herself keeping her feelings in check, especially when she plays at military funerals.
“I can’t cry and play at the same time,” she said.
Sorry, comments are closed for this post.