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Bagpipes call Stafford lad THE BAGPIPE BOY
Stafford County student is known in some circles as 'the bagpipe boy'

Jacob performs with the Colonial Forge marching band.
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Date published: 11/30/2008


Jacob Minogue is "the bagpipe boy" at Colonial Forge High School, a red-haired, fair-skinned Irish lad who loves the classic sound of this ancient instrument.

The 16-year-old has been taking bagpipe les-sons for almost four years. He studied for a year and a half before he earned the right to play on real pipes, and he's proud of his custom-made set from Scotland.

Before he could put the instrument over his shoulder, he used a practice chanter. The device looks like the recorder that kids first play in elementary school--and sounds a little like a duck, according to Jacob.

Mastering the bagpipes isn't easy, and Jacob would agree that he needs more practice.

So would his teacher, Dr. Ray Scott, who directs the University of Mary Washington's Eagle Pipe Band.

Scott estimates that only one of every 10 students will be able to play several tunes on the bagpipes.

One of 100 will master the instrument, Scott said.

Jacob, who also plays keyboard, drums and guitar, hopes to be in that category.

"I just love it, how it sounds, all of it," he said. "I love the feeling you get from a tune, how it's so light and how it feels like somebody should be dancing to it."

Jacob got his fondness for bagpipes from his Irish father, Ken, a retired Navy officer who always had a bagpiper play at change-of-command ceremonies.

Jacob's family--which includes his mother, Anna, and older brother, Thomas--has been around the world. Jacob was born in Puerto Rico, then lived in Bahrain and Japan before moving to North Stafford in 2005.

He and his bagpipes "fit right in" at Colonial Forge, said Andrew Loft, the school's marching-band director.

Loft had been wanting to do a Celtic theme, and incorporated Jacob's bagpipes this year. At the end of halftime shows and competitions, Jacob played a solo of "Amazing Grace."

"People loved it," Loft said. "It kind of came out of nowhere, and it was very well-received by judges and the audience."

Jacob produced the same reaction in his English class. He had mentioned to his teacher, Jim Davis, that he plays the bagpipes, and Davis invited him to play.

Jacob asked if his teacher was serious, and Davis assured him he was.

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TOUGH LESSONS: When Jacob Minogue first started with the bagpipes, he had to learn that he couldn't curl his fingers around the practice chanter, as he'd done with the clarinet. His teacher, Dr. Ray Scott, taped pencils to his fingers to keep them straight. ANOTHER BAND: Jacob is joining the University of Mary Washington's Eagle Pipe Band. There's no place for pipers to put sheet music, so he'll have to memorize 15 or 20 songs. OTHER INTERESTS: Jacob earned his Eagle Scout badge on Nov. 22. With money made from his summer job as a lifeguard, he bought a keyboard and several other instruments, along with a guitar and tambourine. "He's a music happening," said his mother, Anna. FUTURE PLANS: He wants to study general business and music production. "I'm afraid if I major in music, that'll take the fun and love out of it for me," he said.