The Florida Smallpipe School

Happy participants in the 2009 class. Barry Shears, center.

Happy participants in the 2009 class. Barry Shears, center.

In 2013, The Florida Smallpipe School will be celebrating its tenth year of promoting the Scottish Smallpipes by offering the finest teachers of the art. It is held in Hudson, Florida at the end of February, providing a break from the long winter weather of the northern areas as well as a great learning experience.

The school is held at the log home of Al and Maeve DeHetre which is in a semi-rural setting. There is 1 1/2 acres of land which also houses 2 horses, 2 Bearded Collies and 2 cats. For those with allergies, please be forewarned. The property offers tent or small camper camping for those who wish to say at the school (recommended).  Because of its unique location, there is also many hotels on the Gulf of Mexico within a 10 minute drive. Tampa International Airport is 45 minutes south of the property. Most people arrive the day before the school starts to settle in for the duration of the stay. We have an informal Meet and Greet the night before the school officially begins.

Meals are a communal event. There are grocery stores and fast food restaurants within a mile. People are welcome to purchase food and beverages and keep them in the refrigerators at the home. We also share meal responsibilities with volunteers cooking a meal and the rest of the participants on the clean up committee. All expenses for the meal are divided up equally among those who partake in the meal. Occasionally we will go to nearby restaurants for lunch or dinner.

The school offers classes for beginning and more advanced pipers with help from both peers and the instructor on an all day basis. Aside from the structured classes, there are many porches and “private” areas for folks to practice between classes. Evenings are filled with sessions in which the instructor also participates. There are two classes in the morning for both levels of pipers. Following a lunch break, there are two more classes in the afternoon.

Due to popular demand, Barry Shears will be returning again in 2013. Barry is a marvelous instructor for numerous reasons. His knowledge of piping history is surpassed only by his story telling abilities, making the history come alive for the listeners. Barry has published many books covering music, tunes and music history as well as CDs. He often brings slide shows and other media for all to enjoy. Barry has a tremendous grasp on what it takes to teach at different levels. His understanding of how to play for dancers and to get the most out of the music is flawless. Barry went to Ireland this year to learn how to make an Uilleann pipe chanter and reeds under the guidance of pipemaker Ray Sloan. He will certainly share his new found knowledge and stories with us this year.

The 2013 school runs for 4 days from February 28th to March 3rd and the tuition is $350 for a complete immersion experience.  Camping on the property is free and there is access to electricity and running water if needed. Please contact Maeve DeHetre at for any questions or further information