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Tim the Bagpiper

Josh shares thoughts about his grandfather, Tim Carpenter, and how his love of the bagpipes inspired music in a whole family.

"When my mom and stepdad got married, my grandpa piped for them on the way to the reception...I knew when I got married I wanted him to do the same for me."
"I'm proud of him and grateful for sharing the love of that tradition with his family. He started me and probably half of our family down a road to jigs and reels that we all love to this day."

Music has been such an important part of my life, and I have my family to thank for that. When I started playing music at age 10, my grandpa decided to take up bagpiping the same year. He had played music prior, but this was a new realm entirely from the drumming he had done in the past. After playing for only a few years, he had already gotten good enough to compete and did very well at both the Grandfather Mountain and Stone Mountain Highland games. He later taught piping and drumming for many years at Hargrave Military Academy and I hear that he inspired dozens, if not hundreds of students to love piping music. I am proud of him for those accomplishments. I am also proud of him and grateful for sharing the love of that tradition with his family. He started me and probably half of our family down a road to jigs and reels that we all love to this day.


His approach to piping reminds me of a story I heard from one of my early childhood heroes, Mr. Rogers. He once spoke of a program he helped start where a sculptor came into a classroom and showed the kids how he did his work. Instead of teaching them specific techniques, the artist was instructed to just create sculptures, showing how much he loved his work and to demonstrate doing the task in a joyful way. To paraphrase, he expressed that the students had never produced so many creative pieces in the school before. They just needed an example to see how to passionately pursue something, and their creativity took over from there.


That’s how my grandfather has always shared his music. If you ask him to teach you, he will. But he never forced specific techniques, nor did he try to tell you what music was good and what wasn’t. I think he wanted us to figure that out for ourselves. If he knows the tune you’re playing, he’ll play along with you, and it makes you feel that communal sense of honoring such an old musical tradition. And that just makes you want to learn what he’s learning too.


"Because he pursued something he loved, because he shared that passion with his family, we all became better at finding things that awoke joy in ourselves."

Because he pursued something he loved, because he shared that passion with his family, we all became better at finding things that awoke joy in ourselves. It made us closer because we felt more comfortable sharing the things we loved and knew we’d support each other in that pursuit.


When my mom and stepdad got married, he piped for them on the way to the reception. I thought that was so cool that he was able to live his Scottish heritage and bring music to life outside of a school concert or classroom. I hoped to do something like that someday. But more to the point, I knew when I got married I wanted him to do the same for me. He was happy to do it when I asked him, but I want him to know how much it meant. Twenty-one years of music in the making, and he’s made himself and his family better for it.


Thank you grandpa, for showing us how doing what you love makes everyone want to become their best!



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