Local eighth-grader in youth pipe band heading to Scotland

by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - Will Lyon is a Lakeridge Junior High student who is in the Portland Metro Youth Pipe Band.Many people play an instrument and join a band while growing up but not generally the type of band one Lakeridge Junior High student is in.

Eighth-grader Will Lyon is a bass drummer in the Portland Metro Youth Pipe Band, a group that plays classic Scottish drum and bagpipe music. The band, composed of a pipe corps and a drum corps, recently placed fourth in one of the competitions at the BC Pipers’ Association 82nd Annual Gathering in Surrey, British Columbia in Canada, facing off in the Grade 4 category. Some bands were all adult or adult and youth mixes.

The PMYPB band now is seeking donations from the community to send the band to the World Pipe Band Championships in Glasgow, Scotland in August 2015, a prestigious event for Scottish bagpipe groups.

“We’re serious about the playing, but we’re basically a bunch of teenagers, and we have a lot of fun in the band,” said Will, 14, who joined the band in SUBMITTED PHOTO - A Lakeridge Junior High student is in the Portland Metro Youth Pipe Band, which is fundraising to pay its way to compete at the World Pipe Band Championships in Glasgow, Scotland in August 2015.

Will said he’s learned to work as a team and has enjoyed meeting people and traveling to new places to compete. He’s got a lot of responsibility, too. A bass drummer is among the most crucial roles in a pipe band: keeping the beat.

“The major role in the band is to keep the rest of the drum corps and the pipe corps from either speeding up or slowing down,” he said.

Will’s mom, Deb Lyon, said he is the sole student in the about 20-member band who hails from Lake Oswego, though the drum corps instructor is Shona MacKenzie, of Lake Oswego, and her father, Colin MacKenzie is a private piping instructor from Lake Oswego.

“We have a hidden community in Lake Oswego,” Lyon said.

The local MacKenzie family for many years has been instrumental in the Portland Highland Games, a Scottish celebration coming up this July that features caber tossing, highland dance competitions and various music competitions, Lyon said. The PMYPB will be facing off against other bands in the Highland Games.

Will, a 5-foot, 10-inch wrestler, said he loves playing and another inspiration to push himself in competitions is fried, rectangular and glazed.

“We get doughnuts if we place first in any competition in general,” he said. “We’ve been promised Voodoo Doughnuts. ... I like maple bars.”

Lyon said drum corps instructor Ted McKnight is responsible for this clever bribery.

“Anything with carbs is going to make teenagers happy,” Lyon said. “It’s humorous, and that’s one of the things the kids really like about the instructors. There’s a lot of humor and they’ve been working with kids for a long time.”

Students, ages 8 to 18, may join the youth band, created to build up a talent pool for the band’s adult counterpart, the nonprofit Portland Metro Pipe Band. Mark Tomasetti, who leads the adult and youth bands, said it can take a couple of years to master the complicated pipes, and so it may be a couple of years before a student may compete. The drums also take a year or two to learn, he said.

The youth group is practicing hard and will have its major fundraiser, the Showcase, in the fall and meanwhile has a donations link on its website The band mainly performs in the summer, playing old time tunes.

“It’s all pretty much Scottish or Irish music,” Tomasetti said. “There’s a number of different types within that — fast, slow, dance. It’s all pretty traditional.”

Learn more

The PMYPB will perform at the Portland Highland Games coming up July 18 and 19 at Mt. Hood Community College, 26000 SE Stark St., Gresham. To buy advance tickets, visit

The Portland Metro Youth Pipe Band meets 7 to 9 p.m. Mondays in Willamette Park at SW Macadam Avenue and Nebraska Street in Portland. There are scholarships band members can apply for.

To learn more or to donate to Portland Metro Youth Pipe Band, visit

By Jillian Daley
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