aaron mclean.jpg

Aaron has won 35 major titles in grade 1 with FMM along with 2 Grand Slams, 6 World titles and 1 World Drumming title. Aaron also won the worlds with Finvoy in 2004 and Cullybackey in 2008 taking his total to 8 world titles!

Aaron McLean, Snare Instructor

Wooden Hut

AARON MCLEAN

WHAT AGE DID YOU TAKE UP SNARE DRUMMING AND WHAT INTERESTED YOU IN PIPE BANDS?

I FIRST STARTED PLAYING IN MY LOCAL BAND FINVOY IN THE WINTER OF 2003 AT THE AGE OF 13. I WAS ALWAYS LIFTING DRUM STICKS UP AS A KID AS MY FATHER WAS A DRUMMER IN A LOCAL ACCORDION BAND. WHEN I JOINED FINVOY IN 2003 IT OPENED MY EYES UP TO THIS CRAZY WORLD I HAVE NOW SPENT THE PAST 17 YEARS COMPETING IN. I COULDN’T GET ENOUGH OF THE LEARNING AND WOULD BE DRIVEN BY MY FANTASTIC AND DEDICATED MOTHER ALL AROUND THE NORTH OF IRELAND FOR LESSONS AND PRACTICE.

 

WHAT BANDS HAVE YOU PLAYED FOR AND WHAT IS YOUR MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT?

 

I STARTED OFF IN FINVOY, I THEN MOVED TO BLEARY AND DISTRICT UNDER THE DIRECTION OF IAN LAWSON. AFTER 1 YEAR WITH BLEARY THE BAND DECIDED TO TAKE A YEAR OUT WHICH WAS SUCH A SHAME AS EVERY DRUMMER IN THAT CORP HAS WENT ON TO WIN MULTIPLE WORLD TITTLES SINCE. IN 2007 I PLAYED FOR ONE SEASON WITH ADRIAN HOY IN CULLYBACKEY. I THEN ULTIMATELY JOINED FIELD MARSHALL MONTGOMERY WHERE I HAVE BEEN FOR THE PAST 13 YEARS. I AM NOW THE LEADING DRUMMER OF ST JOSEPH’S PIPE BAND CLONDALKIN AND THEY NOW COMPETE IN GRADE 2 AFTER WINNING THE WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS IN 2019 ON GRADE 3A. IN REGARDS TO MEMORABLE MOMENTS 1ST THE DAY MY BROTHER JOHN WON HIS FIRST WORLD SOLO DRUMMING CHAMPIONSHIPS AND I ALSO QUALIFIED FOR THE FIRST TIME FOR THE ADULT FINAL IN 2012. 2ND WINNING THE WORLDS DRUMMING IN 2013. I WAS DELIGHTED NOT ONLY FOR THE BAND BUT ALSO FOR KEITH ORR AFTER MANY YEARS OF COMING SO CLOSE. 3RD THE MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT WAS PLAYING AND WINNING THE WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS IN 2018 WITH MY BROTHER JOHN. HE IS MY BEST FRIEND SO NOTHING WILL TOP THAT FOR A LONG LONG TIME.

 

WHO ARE YOUR BIGGEST INSPIRATIONS IN THE PIPE BAND WORLD?

 

I HAVE A FEW TO BE HONEST AND ALL FROM DIFFERENT BACKGROUNDS AND STYLES. TOMMY SLOANE WHO STARTED ME OFF WAS A MASTER OF EXECUTION AND STILL IS, I ONLY RELEASED YEARS WHAT I REALLY LEARNT FROM TOMMY. STEVEN MCWHIRTER AND IAN LAWSON AS A TEAM WHERE A BIG PART OF MY DRUMMING CAREER AS A TEENAGER. I LOOKED UP TO AND STILL DO TO THIS DAY TO THE BOTH OF THEM. EXCEPTIONAL PLAYERS, TUTORS AND LEADERS. STEPHEN CREIGHTON AS MUCH AS WE DID NOT SEE EYE TO EYE FOR MANY YEARS HAS HELPED ME A LOT SINCE TAKING OVER MY OWN CORP. AGAIN, HIS GUIDANCE AND KNOWLEDGE HAS BEEN CRUCIAL FOR TO WHAT I AM TRYING TO ACHIEVE. HIS LEADERSHIP SPEAKS FOR ITSELF. MY BIGGEST INFLUENCE HAS TO BE KEITH ORR. KEITH HAS BEEN NOT ONLY A FANTASTIC LEADING DRUMMER BUT A DEAR AND CLOSE FRIEND TO ME OVER THE YEARS SOMETHING I WILL NEVER BE ABLE TO REPAY TO HIM. HIS ACHIEVEMENTS SPEAK FOR THEMSELVES. HE HAS DONE IT ALL.

 

IN ALL THE GRADES WHICH BAND DO YOU FEEL COULD FAIR WELL IN THE 2020 ( MAYBE 2021) SEASON?

 

I HOPE WE CAN GET OUT AT SOME STAGE THIS SUMMER, BUT I AM NOT SO SURE. I ALWAYS LOOK OUT FOR BANDS THAT I THINK CAN MAKE THAT LEAP THROUGH THE GRADES AND EVERY YEAR COME OUT WITH SOMETHING DIFFERENT AND EXCITING. IT WILL BE INTERESTING THIS YEAR LISTENING TO GRADE 1 AFTER BEING PART OF IT FOR THE PAST 13 YEARS. AS WE SEEN WITH LAST YEAR’S RESULTS ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN ON ANY DAY. I OBVIOUSLY HAVE NEVER HEARD FIELD MARSHAL FROM OUTSIDE THE RING IN 13 YEARS AND I TEND TO NOT LISTEN TO OTHER GRADE 1 BANDS IN THE CIRCLE. SO HOPEFULLY WHEN THE DUST SETTLES, I WILL GET TO SIT BACK AND LISTEN TO ALL THE FANTASTIC BANDS AND TRY NOT AND MISS IT TOO MUCH!

 

WHICH DRUM CORPS HAVE YOU HAD THE OPPORTUNITY TO LEAD OR HELP AND HOW DID YOU FIND THESE EXPERIENCES?

 

OVER THE YEARS I HAVE HELPED A FEW BANDS OUT BUT NOTHING MAJOR. LEADING ST JOSEPHS I ALSO KNEW WAS GOING TO BE A CHALLENGE BUT AM A VERY COMPETITIVE PERSON AND I DON’T LIKE BEING BEATEN. I HAVE LEARNED QUITE A LOT IN MY TIME AS LEADING DRUMMER OF ST JOSEPH’S. MENTALITY IS A MAJOR FACTOR I TRY AND DRIVE INTO THE CORPS. IF THE MENTALITY AND VISION IS RIGHT THAT’S HALF THE BATTLE. I LOOK FORWARD TO SHOWCASING AT SOME STAGE SOON THE HARD WORK THE CORPS HAVE PUT IN DURING THE WINTER MONTHS. IT WILL NOT GO TO WASTE.

 

DO YOU OFFER A TEACHING SERVICE AND IF SO WHICH BANDS ARE YOU CURRENTLY HELPING?

 

AT THIS MOMENT IN TIME I ONLY HAVE THE PROJECT AT ST JOSEPH’S I WANTED TO MAKE SURE THAT ALL MY EFFORT WAS BEING PUT INTO THEM. IF YOU LEAD BY EXAMPLE AND GIVE SOMEONE EVERYTHING YOU HAVE YOU EXPECT THAT BACK.

 

HOW DO YOU PREPARE IN THE MORNING OF A CONTEST AND HOW DO YOU MAKE SURE YOU ARE HAPPY WHEN HEADING UP TO THE LINE?

 

IN THE MORNING OF A COMPETITION I NEVER TEND TO GET TOO HYPED UP. I TEND TO HAVE A WALK AROUND THE PARK WHEN I GET THERE, SOAK IT ALL UP TALK TO FRIENDS AND THEN GET BACK TO THE BUS AND GET THE BUSINESS HEAD ON FOR A FEW HOURS. I LOVE THE ADRENALINE OF WALKING UP TO THE LINE ESPECIALLY THE WORLDS AND IT IS SOMETHING I WILL MISS DEARLY BUT I HOPE TO BE BACK THERE SOONER RATHER THAN LATER WITH ST JOSEPH’S.

 

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO A YOUNG PLAYER LOOKING TO MAKE IT TO THE HIGHER GRADES?

 

AS STEVEN MCWHIRTER WROTE ON MY DRUM PAD BACK IN 2006 PERFECT PRACTICE AND PREPARATION PREVENTS PISS POOR PERFORMANCE. THERE ARE NO GREATER WORDS. SET YOUR GOAL AND DON’T RUSH ACHIEVING IT. TAKE THE RIGHT STEPS AND GET OVER THE BUMPS ALONG THE WAY BUT KEEP THAT VISION IN MIND

AARON MCLEAN / SNARE INSTRUCTOR

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