With St. Patrick’s Day fast approaching, Rappahannock Westminster-Canterbury is taking a moment to spotlight the remarkable talent of one of our residents. Bagpiping, widely recognized as a hallmark of Scottish tradition, has also played an integral role in Irish celebrations and customs throughout history. The distinct sound of the bagpipes has long been associated with the rich cultural heritage of both Scotland and Ireland, serving as a unifying thread between the two nations.
Larry Hammond and his wife, Joan Parham, moved to RWC in 2019. After touring the community, they selected one of the Canterbury Cottages, which was spacious and perfect for their needs. It was during the renovation process that Hammond requested a sound boarded-insulated closet for his bagpipes, a unique request for the staff at RWC.
“It’s not every day we have residents at RWC playing bagpipes,” says Marketing Manager Lauren White who helped Larry and Joan during the move-in process.
RWC approved the request, and Hammond soon started sharing his talents with the residents. One memorable performance was on St. Patrick’s Day in 2020 at the beginning of the pandemic. “It was such a small gesture that was so much appreciated when there was nothing to do,” White said.
Hammond’s passion for playing the bagpipes runs deep, and he has been involved in the tradition for many years. “My family background is about 85% Scottish, so I guess something inborn attracted me to the pipes,” he said.
When asked about his favorite music to play, he said, “I have many pieces that I like. One being Gary Owen. The bagpipes can elicit a strong emotional response from listeners, which is what makes them special to me.”
Maintaining and repairing the bagpipes can be a time-consuming process, so Hammond has opted to play digital pipes instead, as they require less maintenance. “As I get older, playing the bagpipes has become more difficult. So, I have elected to continue my passion through digital bagpipes,” he said.
Hammond has competed in piping competitions in the past, achieving 4th place in Grade IV Senior piping. “It takes a lot of work to play the bagpipes well,” he said, discussing the particular set of techniques and grace notes that make the bagpipes sound distinct from other instruments.
As a part of the RWC community, Hammond has grown personally and developed new friendships. “I appreciate the new friendships that have developed,” he said. He has also shared his passion for the bagpipes with other interested residents through email recordings. The RWC community has been supportive of his love for the bagpipes and his other hobbies and interests, such as singing in the choir.
Hammond remains passionate about playing the digital bagpipes and sharing his love for the instrument with others, and the community.
RWC is fortunate to have such a talented resident among us.
Enjoy a few moments of bagpipe music by clicking below.