Douglas Murray MacRae was born in London, Ontario on March 15, 1982, the third son of Duncan and Barbara MacRae. "I'm the first piper in the family," says Doug, with tongue in cheek, "but who knows? I may lead to generations more - we'll see."
Doug is currently a student at the University of Western Ontario where he is a Kinesiology major. "I enjoy other instruments such as piano, guitar, bass guitar and a variety of percussion instruments," he says. "Outside of music, I participate in various sports, mostly baseball and volleyball. I am a current member of the Lambda Chi Alpha Men's Fraternity, Delta Eta Zeta Chapter at the UWO campus where I held the 2002-03 Recruitment Manager position and will be the Vice President for Communications in 2003-04."
Doug gives credit for most of his piping tuition to date to Archie Cairns (Celtic Heritage, May/June '00 issue) and his son, John K. Cairns (Celtic Heritage, Jan/Feb '01 issue). "My first piping teacher was John Cairns who lives in London as well. John's accomplishments are familiar to many, such as winning the Gold medals at Oban and Inverness in 1999 to become the first Canadian Double Gold Medalist. I took lessons from John early on for 3 years and now am back learning from him."
According to John Cairns, "Doug is a very intelligent young man who has worked very hard to get to where he is today. He cam to me as a young boy and as an outright beginner and I am very proud of how he has matured as a player, and am excited about what the future holds for him."
"John's father, Major Archie Cairns, however, has been my most influential instructor to date," Doug continues. "I spent some 6 or 7 years under his tutelage. He started me on my first piobaireachd tune, "MacCrimmon's Sweetheart"".
Archie Cairns has very good memories of working with his young student. "Doug began with son John teaching him and then John asked if
I would take him on. This I did in Oct 1993 and, as I'm guessing by his age that he has been playing about 11 years, I was his sole teacher for
nearly 8 of them. When he came to me, he could only play 2 parts of the Siege of Delhi, which he did quite well. I provided all of his solo instruction from there, introducing him to, and schooling him in piobaireachd, and developing and polishing his talents in all types of competition music year after year. From competing at a Grade 4 level, he gradually progressed and when he left my instruction he was playing and winning prizes in Grade 1 for Light Music and in Senior Amateur for Ceol Mor."
Though recently Doug has begun to study piobaireachd with Bill Livingstone, his admiration for his long-time instructor is inspiring. "Major Cairns provided me with many valuable lessons," he says, "not only on pipes, but also in how to approach life. He is an honest man, who stands firm for what he believes and for this he has my utmost respect. His accomplishments as a piper, teacher, adjudicator, composer, arranger, husband, and father should be recognized."
The first band Doug played with was the St. Thomas Police Pipe Band under the direction of P/M Bob Allen. "At the time I joined, St. Thomas (now the London Firefighters Association Pipe Band) was at the Grade 4 level and acted as a feeder band to the Grade 1 band. I was with the band for several years, acting as Pipe Sergeant for the last two years. Four years ago, I joined the 78th Fraser Highlanders Pipe Band where I still play. Playing in St. Thomas truly helped me develop as a player as I was continually trying to improve to reach the level of my fellow bandsmen, and ultimately reaching the Grade 1 band.
"With the 78th Frasers, I have continually been exposed to some of the best players in the world. It is very difficult not to let this group influence you. The knowledge gained at each practice is worth big bucks. The band won the North American Championship at Maxville my first two years with them, which is always a thrill, along with the Champion Supreme award in 2000. Playing with the 78th at the World's had been always been a goal for me and, when I stepped on the field in Glasgow, everything came to me that I had reached that aspiration and can now look forward to even bigger things.
"During my first year of competition at age ten, I was fortunate enough to win Champion Supreme in grade 5. This encouraged me to continue with my piping, even though I was still hesitant at that point as to my true desire to play. In 1997, I also won the Champion Supreme title in Junior Amateur Piobaireachd and in 2002 was awarded the Senior Amateur title. I am a three-time invitee to the Nicol-Brown Amateur Contest in Hartford, as well as a four-time invitee to the George Sherriff Memorial in Hamilton, Ontario. In January of 2003, I competed at the Midwest Highland Art Fund Silver Medal contest in Kansas City and finished fourth playing "The Lament For Mary MacLeod". Following the completion of the 2002 competition season, I was upgraded to the Professional class.
"I have taken a great interest in the Pipers' and Pipe Band Society of Ontario starting at age 16 as president of the Western Branch. I currently hold the position with much enthusiasm as I enjoy being part of an organization that helps promote the art form at so many different levels.
"I have a couple of students at present and have begun teaching at clinics and workshops. I have composed a few tunes that a select few have heard, but am waiting at this point to do anything serious. So far, my only recording experience has been with the 78th Frasers band as we played in the Millennium Concert and the World Pipe Band Championships, and a studio recording being released this summer. No solo stuff yet."
The final word goes to his teachers from his formative years. "Doug has very good fingers," says Archie Cairns, "and is a musical player who, with competent instruction, should become a first class piper. I believe he has yet to reach his potential."
Son John agrees. "Doug's biggest challenge will be to make that leap into the Professional ranks. But taking into consideration his work ethic, natural musical abilities and outstanding bagpipe, I'm sure Doug will weather the storm and be a predominant name in the piping scene for many years to come."