Performer Focus – Ron McMillan, Drum Major, Delta Police Pipe Band, Canada

We are continuing to look at some of our performers taking part in the 2023 Belfast International Tattoo. This week is Ron McMillan from Delta Police Pipe Band, Canada. Huge thank you to all of you taking part in this project for us!

What is your name and how old are you?

My name is Ron McMillan, and I am 58 years old.

Where have you lived and where do you live now?

I was born in Los Angeles, California, USA but am a proud Canadian raised in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. I currently live in North Delta, British Columbia, Canada.

What instrument do you play and how long have you been playing?

Childhood clarinettist. I am a lapsed/recovering kit drummer and have been a tenor drummer for 5 years. I also dabble with the ukulele and play the bodhran at band socials. I am currently terrible on the Irish Whistle.

How did you first get involved with the band / dance troupe that you are with now?

A friend and former Drum Major of the band invited me along to practice one night, and it just stuck. I’ve been drawn to the sound of the pipes for as long as I can remember.

When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I wanted to be a teacher and indeed ended up being a college professor for 20+ years.

Who is someone you admire, and why?

There are so many potential answers to that question. It’s difficult to single any one person out. The type of person that I admire most, however, is honest, principled, and straightforward. I admire cleverness and wit in conversation, as well as insight and commitment to the moment.

If you could give a younger person musical advice, what would it be?

Play, in the pure sense of the word. Experiment, explore, expand. Be brave enough to be bad at something new. You will find your voice in unexpected places sometimes, and the act of performance, even for yourself, makes you more.

What do you enjoy most about being part of your band?

By far the camaraderie and sense of family in the band. Pipe band is a shared experience! We are brothers and sisters and everything that entails. There are individual victories for certain, but more important are the successes of the group. Being a part of a group of people that can make an audience feel is an amazing thing.

What is your favourite memory from your musical career so far?

Stepping out into the concourse in my first military tattoo, shortly after joining the band, and locking eyes with the smiling audience members. My recognition that I was contributing to the enjoyment of the audience in that performance made that a special moment for me.

What are you most looking forward to when performing at the Belfast Tattoo?

So many things. I am most looking forward to the feeling of performing in the home of my grandfather and great grandfather. This will be a return home for me, in a sense.

How would you describe your cultural identity?

Canadian by choice, but I have always been proud of the shared identity of Irish and Scots. There is some English in there from my mother’s side as well, but I’ve been drawn to the culture and sounds of Ireland and Scotland since I was a boy. The folklore and history of the Islands reaches into my soul.

What link does your family have to Northern Ireland or Scots-Irish heritage?

As I’ve said, my grandfather and great grandfather were from Northern Ireland. My grandfather Alexander McMillan was from Ballymena and came to America in 1909 on the SS Celtic. My great grandfather Thomas McMillan was from Ahoghill and married a Ballymena lass as well. Historically, the MacMillan clan was associated with the Lochaber region of Scotland. Many of the clans came to Ireland and from there to the United States and Canada.

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