Frequently Asked Questions

Who is the Gates Keystone Club Police Pipe and Drums?

We are a Police, Fire, and EMS services pipe band that was established in 1998 by six members of the Town of Gates (NY) Police Department (Gates is a suburb of Rochester).

At its inception the band was strongly supported by the Gates Police Union, “The Keystone Club”, thus the origin of the band’s name.

The band was founded for the purpose of honoring our fallen first responders; participating in various official ceremonial events. The band travels throughout the upstate New York region performing at funerals, memorial services and other special events. Its purpose is mostly ceremonial, and it does not compete at competitions or festivals as many other pipe bands do.

Today the band has grown dramatically with members from many police, fire and ems agencies, as well as a group of very dedicated civilians.

The band also performs in numerous parades, festivals, military ceremonies, and Celtic events throughout the year. The Gates Keystone Club Police Pipes and Drums is a 501C (3) charitable organization.

What are the different kinds of members you have?

In the band we have pipers, drummers (snare, tenor and bass), color guard and support members

Pipers and drummers are the musicians of the band

Color guard members carry and display at events various flags and banners

How much time is required?

The band requires that each member make 20% of practices and 20% of full band performance; this is a performance were the entire band is requested. This means you need to usually attend at least 1 practice per month, and approximately 10 performances per year. Everyone is encouraged to make as many practices as possible.

When and where are practices?

Practices are usually held at Gates Town Hall, 1605 Buffalo Road, Sunday mornings from 11:00 AM until 1:00 PM, from September through April.

What is involved to become a piper?

The first thing is to learn to play the bagpipes and learn the tunes that the band plays; roughly 40 tunes. Typically, it takes about a year from the time you begin, until you are reasonably able to play the full highland bagpipes.

In addition, you will need to learn to march in a band formation, while playing the pipes. This is done for parades and other events. A parade typically is ½ to 1 mile long. Once you are reasonably able to play, you will be asked to audition for the pipe major. This is not a test, but really a check that you are able to play the pipes well enough to play in the band ensemble.

What is involved to become a drummer?

The first thing is to learn to play one of the types of drums we use; snare, bass and tenor and learn the drumming music; roughly 10 tunes. Typically, it takes 3 – 6 months from the time you begin, until you are reasonably able to play; this time depends on which type of drum you are playing.

In addition, you will need to learn to march in a band formation, while playing the drums. This means carrying the drum for parades and other events. Drums weigh anywhere between 12 and 20 pounds, and a parade typically is ½ to 1 mile long.

Once you are reasonably able to play, you will be asked to audition for the pipe sergeant. This is not a test, but really a check that you are able to play your drum well enough to play in the band ensemble. How do I learn to be a piper or drummer? Individual and group lessons are available coordinated through the band. See the Pipe Major or Drum Sergeant to get started!

What is involved to become a member of the color guard?

All that is required is a desire to learn how to march, and carry the banners, or flags in the proper manner. You will need to learn to march in a band formation, while carrying the flags or banners for parades and other events, where a parade is typically is ½ to 1 mile long.

Does the band provide the uniforms, equipment and instruments?

The band provides uniforms for all pipers, drummers, and color guard; drums are provided for the drummers; flags, banners, flag holsters, and ceremonial rifles are provided for the color guard.

The pipers must provide their own bagpipes; the band does not provide these.

All band members will need to have a pair of black shoes or boots to wear as part of the uniform.

Note each band member is responsible for the care and cleaning for the uniform and instruments provided.

Is there a financial obligation to join the band?

Getting started

New pipers Will need to purchase a practice and tutor book ($140) to get started, and a fee for lessons from an instructor. Eventually (after 9-12 months) new pipers will need to purchase a set of bagpipes ($1,500 - $2,000). The pipe major can help you with more details.

New drummers

May need to purchase a practice pad, and a fee for lessons from an instructor. The drum sergeant can help you with more details.

For experienced pipers and drummers, and the color guard no financial commitment is required.

Ongoing

Each member will need to pay for any fuel, tolls, parking when going to a performance. Sometimes the band provides refreshments for events, otherwise each member.

How does one join the band?

Any one of the band officers can provide you an application to complete and mail to the band secretary. One thing to note is because we are affiliated with Police, Fire and EMS agencies a background check is required. Further details are found in the application.

Once the application is received, the background check will be completed; then it is reviewed and voted upon at the next executive board meeting. The board meets at the beginning of each month. A member of the board will contact you after the meeting and get you started (when the next practice or meeting is, whom to contact, etc.)

What if I have more questions or want more information?

Feel free to talk with any band member for what you may want to know. If they cannot answer they will probably suggest you talk with the Band Manager, Secretary, Piper Major or Drum Sergeant. You can also just see them as well!

Updated on Feb. 1, 2020 at 14:02 PM EST