Bagpipe Student Drowns Out Critics

All the music majors at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh practice side by side in small rehearsal rooms, CBS News correspondent Steve Hartman reports in this week's Assignment America. That is, all but one. They make Nick Hudson practice in the basement of a whole other building.

Such is the life of America's only college bagpipe major.

Nick is a sophomore on Carnegie Mellon's bagpipe scholarship. The school offers it ever year, but Nick is one of the few to ever actually take it.

"There's something about the sound. You either love it or you hate it," he says.

Needless to say, it takes a confident kid to do this — or a lazy one.

"It's only nine notes," Nick says. "It's all about how you play those nine notes."

Plus, there are other classes like "Bagpipe History" and "Bagpipe Theory."

His teacher is three-time world bagpipe champion Alasdair Gillies, who says it's actually a pretty hard degree — which is one reason there aren't more kids taking it.

So what do you do with a bagpipe major?

Gillies says you can teach and play at weddings and funerals, but you're never going to be driving your pipes around in a Jaguar. Nick knows that, and still could care less. He's determined to stick with it at Carnegie Mellon, whether students like it or not.

Mostly not.

Nick, who's considered one of the top bagpipe players on the East Coast, is playing outside, as students pack up to leave.

"Wow, I just can't take this," one student says.
  • Melissa McNamara

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