The Academy Band

In September 2015 our band ensemble was founded with a core of current Academy pipers and drummers and is open to anyone in the greater Chicago area. Players interested in participating should complete the form below to begin the discussion of membership details for those coming with some experience or instruction information for those beginning their musical journey with us.

The ensemble players meet from 7pm until 9pm on Monday evenings at the Irish American Heritage Center located at 4626 N. Knox Ave, Chicago, IL 60630.  The pipe sectionals and full ensemble sessions are held in the Auditorium located on the main floor, while drum sectionals will occur along with our other classes on the third floor in Room 304.

We're offering a different kind of experience than most local groups can!

Rehearsals of this group are considered instructional sessions and are being taught every week by established professionals - Patrick Lynch for piping and Andrew Hoinacki for drumming.  You won't find this level of weekly instruction anywhere else in the greater Chicago area. The musical selections are a mixture of tradtional and modern pieces, most of which will be very fresh within the region, and will be rotated regularly to maintain the challenge and learning opportunities of our players. Attendance on a weekly basis is expected by all members and administrative cancellations will only occur in the event of severe weather or for major holidays.

Band Membership Application

If you are interested in becoming part of this ensemble, please complete the short contact form below so we can discuss your experience and fit for the group. Thank you!


Current Ensemble Members

Pipe Major Patrick L
  • Blake W
  • Hannah S
  • Jason P
  • Marcos P
  • Ned S
  • Oliver P
  • Ryan E
  • Theresa W
  • Thomas J
Lead Drummer Chris S
  • Brittany S
  • Mike K
  • Nick E
  • Tony K
  • Wylie W-B

Frequently Asked Questions

How much prior experience is required?

No experience is actually required to study at the Chicago Academy of Piping and Drumming.  Our primary structure as an educational organization means that we can take people with no experience at all and turn them into competent musicians.  However, in order to be in the band course you need to be able to play properly on an actual bagpipe or drum, and be ready and able to learn on pace with the group. Players will perform in public once the instructors think that each individual is capable of doing so, but anyone accepted into the band course has that opportunity from their first day.

What is the time investment like?

We can't tell a lie ... doing anything well takes plenty of time.  We require you to attend weekly two-hour instructional rehearsal sessions.  These are on Monday evenings at the Irish American Heritage Center on the north side of Chicago.  This is our only location and the only session, particularly for our band level players.  Outside of these weekly sessions, you'll need to be the judge of how much time it takes you to learn the musical selections in addition to whatever time is needed to continue improving your overall playing ability which is expected of all players.  A good rule of thumb is that you'll need to set aside 45-60 minutes on a daily basis (yes, every day) to practice your piping or drumming.  Frequency is more important than quantity which is why we insist that you plan on practicing every day, even if you have to break up your practice sessions to 10 or 15 minutes at a time.

How much does the band course cost?

The band program is the highest level of instruction provided by The CAPD as an academic institution. Tuition is $60 per month per member, with a family rate of $90 per month for two or more players involved.  We are aware and open about the fact that here are groups in the area that do this type of thing for free, however none of these groups are as focused on education as we are.  It should also be mentioned that none of these other groups are being run entirely by professional competitors who not only have their own achievements, but more importantly have taught, built, and lead some of the best bands in the country, and are now committed to educating the next wave of pipe band musicians and guding you on a path to your own successes.  We don't like having to toot our own horns, but we promise you'll be getting some of the finest instruction available at a significant discount compared to individual lessons.

What other expenses are involved ... instruments, uniforms?

There are instrumental costs which vary for pipers and drummers and can be discussed with interested parties.  Pipe chanters are provided while each piper owns their own bagpipe and is expected to play a bag type and reeds from an approved selection.  Drums are provided while each drummer owns their own carrier and is expected to play sticks, mallets, and practice pads from an approved selection.  Instrumental investment costs range from about $400 for drummers, to about $1500 for pipers.

The personal uniform item expenses for each individual include a waistcoat, long-sleeved dress shirt, glengarry cap, kilt hose, and ghillie brogues, some of which will need to be purchased from specific suppliers or in a specific style.  The band provides performing players with a kilt, sporran, tie, cap badge, and sporran. The total initial expediture for uniform parts is approximiately $300 from our suppliers.  We don't hide the fact that this is an expensive activity - but the items you're paying for yourselves will stay with you for many years of your playing career!

How many parades do I have to play?

Probably 2 or 3 per year - generally one each at St. Patrick's Day and 4th of July along with perhaps one other each year.  Our focus is to create quality players able to compete at continually increasing levels.  While while parades and other such gigs do provide something of a small revenue stream, taking up more of our members' time is not what we're about.  If we spend extra time together, it will be an added rehearsal session on a Saturday morning from time to time.

How many competitions is the band attending?

The band's debut competition season will be the summer of 2016 and the current plans currently reflect 4 competitions - specifically Milwaukee Games (June 4th), Chicago Games (June 18th), Springfield Games (July 23rd), and Waukesha Games (September 5th).  There are other considerations for addition based on player availability.  Since this is the first year out, we expect it'll take one season for our membership to get used to being able to include 6-8 competitions per year into their personal calendars.  We also plan to begin traveling to competitions out-of-region in 2017 as this is often a great way to test our mettle against groups we wouldn't normally see here in the Midwest, and to build camaradrie as a band on the road.