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Jane Espie
The Phantom Piper


I am passionate about my music and I believe it is my true vocation. However, it has been a very long and at times painful journey to achieve what I have through sheer self determination and belief in myself.

When was young I was seriously ill with asthma and needed a lot of medication and a breathing mask; as a result I missed a lot of school & didn’t have the opportunity to socialise or make many friends.

When I was 8 years old I discovered I could play the chanter and that slowly built up my lungs which improved my asthma. Then I moved on to playing the pipes which further improved my lungs along with my schooling, making friends and my confidence grew and my life began to change.

At age 9 I was given my 1st set of pipes and started playing with the junior Inveikeithing Pipe Band but it was very difficult for me because I was very young and shy and the Pipe Major at the time made it clear that he really didn’t like female pipers and he obviously didn’t like me! But I already had my love of the pipes and his attitude only made me want to fight harder to reach a high standard of pipe playing despite the discouraging efforts of my first Pipe Major.

When he eventually retired he was replaced by a female Pipe Major, in her 20s who had been observing the band for some time. This was my big break because she had noticed that I had not been treated fairly and she decided to take me under her wing.

From that moment everything began to improve for me and I began to really enjoy piping a lot more; with the help of the new Pipe Major and a lot of encouragement and support from my mum and dad I improved, and I will always be grateful to them!

A couple of years later I was performing solos. It was during one of my solo performances on stage that my previous pipe major passed by outside the auditorium and overheard me playing on stage but was unaware who it was. He remarked on the high standard of piping and when he saw it was me piping his face was a picture!

When I turned 15, I wanted and needed to move on, so my pipe major suggested we both move to the City of Edinburgh Pipe Band, grade 2. This was a fantastic experience for me to be part of such a big band and to find that they were all so friendly. I had some really good times there and travelled with them to France and Spain to play in European Festivals which was just amazing!

By the age of 16 I was teaching the Edinburgh Army Cadet Pipe Band whilst continuing to play with the Edinburgh Pipe Band. I used to teach in the cadet hall every week and then sometimes went away at weekends to teach at the the army barracks.

When I was 17/18 I left the City of Edinburgh Pipe Band to join the Inveikeithing Pipe Band (adult pipe band) which is now called the Royal Burgh of Inveikeithing Pipe Band. This went well for a couple of years before the band began to split up until there were only 4 of us left but we were determined to continue and slowly more people joined us. Our persistence paid off and the band is now back up to a good full size and moving forward full throttle; I’m so glad we stuck with the band.

I am proud to say I have now produced 2 albums ‘Shores o’ the Forth’ which I dedicated to my late dad and to my family who have always believed in me. Late last year I released ‘Bend It Like Jane’ . I also have my own web-site and my music can be heard on you-tube.

When I turned 21, my music became my career, I left my day job and bagpipes was my new job. i joined a big band, which toured all over UK and Europe, I honestly had the time of my life and had the first taste of the good life. I now had proved to my self I was worthy and those who thought I'd never go any where. I had travelled and played for amazing places and people.

At 23 I found my self experimenting on my solo stuff, I'm really loving, sharing my life with my bagpipes. Its bliss. Its the one thing I do best. Music really understands me, being in music is hard work and you always have to fight for your place but I wouldn't change this for the world. It drives me to work harder and practice to get better. But what really makes my want to play is my fans, they keep me going when at times I feel low. So I'm very thankful to them. I'm very lucky! I'm nowhere near as good as I want to be, that's why I practice every day!

Earlier this year I visited Australia where I performed at the Highland Gathering as part of the Adelaide Music Festival.

I will be going to Italy in June to play at the Celtic festival, and later in the year have been invited to return to Australia to play with a Rock Band there.

I am now Pipe Major of a junior pipe band and again teaching bagpipes and encouraging young musicians and showing them how much fun can be had from playing.

I am still practising and working continuously even harder to discover new and vibrant ways of expressing myself through my music. Being young and creative I want my music to appeal to and reach a wide audience and to cross boundaries and music genres. I am looking to be very much inclusive in today's music scene.

Most of my early life I found myself having to fight for my place in what has been and to some extent still is, a very male dominated world of highland bagpipe playing. Male pipe majors, and even some members of my own family would not take me seriously which only served to make me more determined and to work even harder to succeed.

Fortunately my father and mother were a constant source of encouragement to me with never failing confidence in my ability and gave me every encouragement for which I will be eternally grateful.

It has been against great odds that I am still here teaching and still passionate about making music. I know I have had to work so much harder than any of my male peers to achieve recognition of my ability and to build my career but it has made me a stronger, more confident person with sound sense of achievement and self worth.

Do visit my web site at http://www.janeespie.com/fr_about.cfm where you can also purchase my CD's.

You can watch another video at http://youtu.be/CBIiF-ufKNQ

You can contact Jane at thephantompiper @ janeespie.com


 


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