McNick teacher plays ‘lowd’ on bagpipes

By Faith Miller

Social Studies teacher Frank Lowden is more than just a teacher; he is also a bagpiper extraordinaire.

One of the most notable places students will see Lowden playing is during the first all school mass each year as he leads the freshman procession into Guardian Angels church. He also plays at the Baccalaureate Mass and leads the senior procession

“Bagpipes are special,” Lowden said.  “[They] give a sense of regency.” Whenever Lowden plays the bagpipes, including at the school masses, he always wears a kilt. This is because bagpipes are one of the instruments that requires a uniform to play. The uniform they wear while playing is the tartan. Lowden said that bagpipes were considered weapons of war since they had been used to keep solders marching in time, making the bagpiper a part of the battle.

Lowden’s fascination with the instrument started in his childhood. As a child, he would travel to Nova Scotia, Canada where he would hear a bagpiper on the border. When watching the bagpiper, Lowden said, “When I was a kid, I was mesmerized.” Because of the experience, he was determined to learn how to play, no matter how hard of a challenge learning the bagpipes would be. It could take up to one year just to learn how to breathe correctly and another to learn the notes. However, when playing the bagpipes correctly, Lowden said, “[It’s] like driving a fine sports car.”

Although Cincinnati’s community of bagpipers may be small, Lowden said it’s alright because he is able to know everyone. The tightknit community has allowed him to form new friendships, and one of the most notable places that Lowden and his friends play is during the St. Patrick’s Day parade.

While sophomores, juniors, seniors, and faculty and staff applaud, Social Studies teacher Frank Lowden leads the Class of 2020 as they process into their first all school mass. It is McNick tradition for Lowden to lead classes into their first all-school mass freshman year and out of their Baccalaureate Mass senior year. Photo courtesy of MCNHS.

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