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Extracted from “The New Melody Directory: Highland Bagpipe” © 1986 Chalmers/McCullough.
 
ISBN Vol. 1: 1 86252 976 0, ISBN Vol. 2: 1 86252 977 9, ISBN Overall: 1 86252 978 7 (set).
 
Donald Chalmers began lessons in 1956 when he was eleven years old. By 1959 he played with the Melbourne Highland Pipe Band when it won the A Grade Australian Pipe Band Championship title at Daylesford. His tutors included Pipe Major’s J.L. MacKenzie, W.J. Wallace, D.M. MacLennan MBE (nephew of the famous G.S. MacLennan), and K.F. Routley, all prominent piping personalities and members of the Victorian Highland Pipe Band Association judging panel.
 
He advanced through solo competitions grades in both piobaireachd and light music, and competed for the first time in the Open Grade in 1965. On completion of his studies in 1967 he was called up for National Service and served in South Vietnam as Artillery Surveyor.
 
Shortly after his return to civilian life in 1970, new family commitments soon led to his concentration on giving private lessons, teaching junior bands, and judging.  It was during this phase of his life that he wrote the book “Concise Tutor for Practice Chanter”, which illustrates in great detail the fingering technique which he had acquired over his years of study.
 
Since the mid sixties a series of top ranking pipers visited and gave recitals/tutorials in Australia, and Don gained much from them, particularly with regard to piobaireachd interpretation and sound. He has had particular success in adapting the condensation tube/moisture absorbent bag dressing/dry atmosphere approach. In addition to this he has utilized the electronic tuner to advantage, and not been afraid to file/tape his chanter to get a better result.
 
He has contributed a series of articles (some of which have been reproduced in other piping magazines) to the Victorian “Pipe Bandsman” covering such topics as pipe maintenance, comfort, where the beat falls, the electronic tuner and its use in pipe bands, tempo charts, the judicious use of earplugs/muffs in band halls and so on.
 
He is interested in testing for musical aptitude. Such tests, which measure pitch discrimination, musical (melodic and rhythmic) memory etc, might well be used in the future to “find” students of better than average potential, or even cull out or redirect to different instruments, those students who are not likely to succeed with the bagpipe.
 
He has not competed in solo competition since 1995 and has withdrawn from his role as adjudicator/judge.  However, he still maintains his interest in piping, playing on the Degger Electronic Bagpipe and prefers to play as the miniature bagpipe sound.
 
* This picture was taken of Donald playing solo at the St Andrew’s Hospital Concert at Dallas Brooks Hall, Melbourne in 1972.
About Donald Chalmers
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Welcome to the Intricate Weaving of Something Beautiful:
Presented by Donald Chalmers 2006.