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Pipe Major William O'Donnell
William (Bill) O'Donnell (1936-2016) began playing bagpipes in the 1960s, after spending four years in the Air Force and completing his graduate degree. In 1967, Bill joined a local band where he began to work on his piping skills. Seeking advice from every advanced piper he could find, Bill learned from individuals such as David Martin, Ken Eller, William Livingston Jr. and, of course, the Wee Green Book. It wasn't long before Bill began to perfect his piping skills.
Showing skill and aptitude in piping, he began teaching the Great Highland Bagpipes at two campuses of Oakland Community College. He taught bagpipes to adults and children alike, placing great emphasis on the correct execution of movements and an appreciation for the music. Bill formed the Michigan Scottish Pipes and Drums in 1980 with the graduates of the piping course he was teaching.
Further improving his skills as a bagpiper, in 1991 Bill joined the St. Andrews Pipe Band of Detroit, where he challenged himself along-side well-established and accomplished pipers. In 1992, St. Andrews won the Grade 3 Champion Supreme title of the PPBSO Ontario circuit.
His passion for teaching drew him back to share his knowledge and skill with others through the Troy Community Education program. There, for many years adults could train and learn to play the Great Highland Bagpipe. In 1994 Bill re-formed Michigan Scottish Pipes and Drums to provide a challenging environment where many of his graduates could continue improving their piping skills.
Today the Michigan Scottish Pipes and Drums carries on Bill's legacy of the love and appreciation for the Great Highland Bagpipe. Over the years, Bill has been responsible for introducing the bagpipes and the love of music to many people. He has trained pipers from all over the US as well as Israel, Germany, Scotland, and other countries. Some have achieved Grades 1, 2 and 3, with many continuing to play with world class bands.
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