The Secret Life Of Your Favorite Teachers; Henry Bullock

Mallery Zion, Editor

With Scottish heritage flowing through his veins, Henry Bullock pursues his bagpipe playing passion.

Ever since childhood, Bullock has found bagpipes intriguing.

“I’ve always wanted to play bagpipes, probably since I was 12 years old and I heard The Scots Guards play on T.V.,” Bullock said.

His parents feared his interest in bagpipes would interfere with his classical music training, and did not let him play. Having no specific present requests for the Christmas season of 2012, Bullock got lucky when a bagpiper on T.V. jolted his memory of something he has always desired.

“I saw the bagpiper on T.V. and thought, “Ah-ha!” and told my wife I wanted to learn to play the bagpipes,” Bullock said.

Bullock found Kansas City St. Andrew’s Pipes and Drums band, and started playing with them in Jan. 2013.

“We have developed lifelong friends,” Bullock said.

The pipe major of their group, Tommy McKee, gave Bullock a few months of private lessons.

“You have to fill the bag with air, and keep it pressurized, while you play the fingerings. Then you also have to move the air through the drones, and when you take a breath you have to squeeze harder to compensate for the drop in pressure until you fill your lungs up again,” Bullock said.

Playing the bagpipes takes a greater toll on you physically, compared to many other instruments.

“You’re basically treating it like a third lung,” Bullock said.

Bullock has even been through minor injuries on his passionate journey to piper-hood.

“When I first started, and didn’t have lung strength or breath support: I hurt myself. I strained some muscles trying to get the bag to fire,” Bullock said.

There are two types of bagpipes he plays; one is the Great Highland Bagpipes, which are the loud war pipes that are the most well known. The second are small Scottish pipes, which are quiet and good for playing alongside other instruments.

Bullock says that his daughter, Senior Shelby Bullock, is in the St. Andrew’s Pipes and Drums band with him. Highland dance and tenor drums are what she dabbles in. The band travels to competitions around the country, and there is more than just bagpipe playing going on.

“Typically competitions happen in Scottish festivals and Highland Games, and there are huge representations of the different clans,” Henry Bullock said.

The MacDonnell Clan is the clan Bullock’s family descends from. Among the dozens of clans, his is highly represented at festivals.

“They get pretty crowded. There’s even authentic ethnic food, along with hundreds of bagpipers and drummers,” Bullock said.

Bullock has scored a couple 1st places along with a 6th on his solos at competitions. The bands have also placed from 1st to 3rd in Chicago, St. Louis and Wisconsin.

“My favorite part of competition is knowing that I have done everything that I can do to make my tune as good as I can possibly make it,” Bullock said.

Bullock’s goal is to play well at competitions he has strived for, despite how nervous he may get.

“It’s an incredibly difficult instrument to control. It is unlike any instrument on the face of the planet,” Bullock said.