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Music for many occasions
Pipe and Drum Band is ‘coming along’ here
Bagpipers Etc 6 es
Tony Chapman and Turner play the bagpipes together as instructor Burny Agee, center, watches. - photo by Emily Saunders
The Forsyth County Pipe and Drum Band plans to bring something different to this year’s Independence Day parade.

Four members of the group play bagpipes, while six others play drums.

Tony Chapman, a battalion chief with the Forsyth County Fire Department, said the band started a little more than a year ago out of a desire to assist the department’s Honor Guard.

“It’s coming along,” he said. “It’s going to take a while to get everything together, but we’ve got a pretty good start on it.”

Chapman said the bagpipe has been the hardest instrument for him to learn.

“I played percussion drums in school and then just a couple years ago I learned how to play the guitar, and the bagpipe has definitely been a challenge,” he said.

He said along with funerals for veterans or those in public safety, the group is available to play at weddings or other events.

Their first public performance as a band was in April at a motorcycle ride fundraiser for firefighter Mark Aycock.

Chapman’s son, Mike, recently played the bagpipe at a Relay for Life event in Gilmer County.

His other son, Greg, plays the bass drum for the group. Father and son recently participated in Cumming’s Memorial Day festivities.

Greg Chapman’s wife, Dana, plays the snare drum in the band.

Burny Agee has been instructing the band, as well as playing with it.

He explained that those who wish to participate are not required to be members of the fire department.

“It’s pretty much open to anybody that wants to come and learn,” he said. “It’s not actually sponsored by the fire department, but it was started by the firemen.”

He said the group’s repertoire includes songs like “Amazing Grace,” “Scotland the Brave” and “Going Home,” a song played at Harry S. Truman’s funeral.

“I’ve taught several of them to read music and basically how to play the chanter,” he said, referring to a part of the bagpipe.

He also taught them how the pipes work and how to adjust the reeds and tune them.

“It’s kind of complicated,” he said.

Agee, who plays bagpipes as a hobby, said he once was part of the Chattahoochee Pipes and Drums band in Roswell. Before that, he was in a Shriners’ group in Atlanta.

Greg Chapman said those on the drumline played in high school and the group’s most recent addition is a 14-year-old son of a fellow firefighter.

“It’s fun,” he said. “We all enjoy it. We wouldn’t be here if we didn’t.”