San Diego Scottish Highland Games

2024 Highland Games June 22-23

2024 Highland Games June 22-23

Rob McLintock School
of Piping & Drumming

School of Piping Instructors​


Aaron Shaw is known mostly as the piper with Wicked Tinkers. But Aaron has an extensive resume as a competitor, both in solo and band piping. Aaron started piping in 1976,
buying his first set of pipes in Scotland. He began attending the College of Piping Summer Schools in 1982, becoming an instructor there in 1996. He studied in Scotland with
P/M Angus MacDonald and Angus J. MacLellan.
Aaron has been a Piping Judge with WUSPBA since 2000 and, in addition to his private students, also teaches at the California Summer School of Piping and Drumming and
the Jim Thomson US School of Piping and Drumming and various seminars around the country. Aaron makes his living as a piper, performing at innumerable private events as
well as on TV and film. He’s also recorded with a wide range of other artists.


Five time winner of Grade One Piper of the Games at various locations

Strachan Trophy for MSR, London Competition, 1998

James Naismith Memorial Targe for Professional Piping, San Diego Highland Games, 1997, 1999

John MacPhee Trophy for Top Grade One Piper, Monterey Highland Games, 1994, 1995, 1996

Silver Chanter for Top Grade One Piper, Costa Mesa Highland Games, 1997

Amateur Grade One Aggregate Winner, Queen Mary Highland Games, 1997

Capt. William Mossie Trophy for Piobaireachd, Monterey Highland Games, 1994, 1995, 1996

Jim Thomson Memorial Trophy and Scholarship, Costa Mesa Highland Games, 1995, 1997

36 First Place Awards
27 Second Place Awards
8 Third Place Awards

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Colin Armstrong

A native of San Diego, 34-year-old Colin Armstrong is the Pipe Major of the Grade 1 LA Scots Pipe band. The United States’ Premier Grade 1 Pipe Band. Colin was promoted to
Pipe Major in 2004 and under his direction the band has qualified for the Grade 1 World Championships Final in Glasgow Scotland on 3 occasions. At the age of 16, Colin was a
member of the LA Scots when it won the 1997 Grade 2 World Pipe Band Championships-the first band from the US to do so. Before playing with the LA Scots, Colin was a member of the
Prince Charles Junior Pipe Band of San Francisco. Colin is also a prominent solo competitor in the WUSPBA having won numerous solo prizes at home and abroad. Teaching bagpipes
professionally, Colin has students of all age and skill levels and regularly works with pipe bands in the Southern California area. He is also an accredited piping adjudicator
with the Western United States Pipe Band. Piping and its traditions are a family affair for Colin. Colin began his tuition with his uncle Pipe Major Scott MacDonald at the age of 10.
His grandfather Ian MacDonald was also founding member of the LA Scots. Colin’s mother Linda Armstrong is a world-class highland dance instructor and his sister Lindsey Armstrong
is also a prominent bagpiper in the Southern California area.
Music is a full-time job for Colin as he is also a professional singer, songwriter and performer with numerous compositions of his featured on network and cable television throughout the world.


Brian, from Cardenden in Fife, was taught to play the pipes by his father, Pipe Major
Andrew Donaldson, himself a renowned piper and teacher. After leaving school, Brian
served his apprenticeship as a bagpipe maker at Inveran House under the guidance of
Jimmy Tweedie.
At a young age, Brian played with the world-famous Dysart & Dundonald Pipe Band,
winning all the major championships in Grade 1. In 1978, Brian enlisted in the Scots
Guards and served with the regiment all over the world. He passed the Pipe Majors’
course at the Army School of Piping, Edinburgh Castle, in 1982. After serving in the
Falklands War, he was posted to the Army School of Piping as an instructor for three
On his return to the 2nd Battalion, he was promoted to Pipe Sergeant and, shortly after
the amalgamation of both battalions, Brian was promoted to the rank of Pipe Major in
1995. In 1998, he became Pipe Major of the Army Training Regiment. Eventually, the
Military centralized all army piping and drumming, and Brian served out his 22 years at
the Army School of Bagpipe & Highland Drumming in Edinburgh.
Brian has achieved an amazing list of prizes, including but not limited to:

  • Gold Medal – Oban
  • Gold Medal and two Clasps – Skye
  • Bratach Gorm – London
  • 2nd Gold Medal – Northern Meeting (twice)
  • MSR – Argyllshire Gathering (twice)
  • MSR – Northern Meeting (three times)
  • MSR – Oban and Inverness (double win in the same year)
  • MSR – London
  • MSR – Grant’s
  • Numerous invitations to The Glenfiddich


Andrew Carlisle is originally from Ballygowan, Northern Ireland and since 2010 has lived and worked in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania as a Professor of Music and the Director of Piping at Carnegie Mellon University.

Andrew is in constant demand as a performer, instructor, and adjudicator
throughout the world. He has perform ed in over twenty countries, across four continents; most notably at The White House in 2008, and in front of 50,000 people at the Oz Stadium in Sydney, Australia in 2010.

He is one of the world’s leading solo pipers and has won numerous prestigious
awards including:
The Gillies Cup for Piobaireachd at London, UK (one of the most coveted prizes in
solo piping)
The A Grade Strathspey and Reel at The Argyllshire Gathering, Oban, Scotland
The A Grade Piobaireachd and Overall at The Cowal Highland Gathering, Dunoon, Scotland
The US Gold Medal for both Piobaireachd and Light Music at Kansas City, Missouri
The Metro Cup Light Music Medley Cham pion at Newark, New Jersey
Five United States Piping Foundation Championship wins at Newark, Delaware
The Macallan Trophy on three occasions at Lorient, Brittany, France
The William Livingstone Memorial for both Piobaireachd and Light Music at
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
The Toronto Indoor Gathering, Toronto, Canada
The Gordon Duncan Memorial on two occasions at Glasgow, Scotland
The British Army Championships at Edinburgh, Scotland
And three All-Ireland titles at Senior level.

For twenty years, Andrew has been an active member of the world renowned Field
Marshal Montgomery Pipe Band, sharing in the success of over forty-five major
championship wins, including nine World Pipe Band Championship wins. He has been featured as a soloist on the band’s ‘Re :Charged’ and ‘Impact’ albums.

Since 2012, Andrew has been the Artistic Director, Pipe Major and Senior Arranger
for the annual Virginia International Tattoo; a production involving 900 performers
held eight times each April in the 8,000 seat Scope Arena in Norfolk, Virginia.

Andrew has been a fully qualified adjudicator for solo piping, piobareachd, pipe bands and ensemble with the Eastern United States Pipe Band Association since 2010.

Andrew was the featured artist in a one hour television program recorded by the BBC in 2016 entitled ‘The Castle Session’ performing the Great Highland Bagpipe, Scottish Border Pipes, Scottish Small pipes, low whistle and penny whistle.

Since arriving in 2010, Andrew has transform ed the Carnegie Mellon University Pipes and Drums into one of the leading pipe bands in the United States. In 2019 and 2022, the band were crowned Grade Three Am e rican Pipe Band Cham pions at Norfolk, Virginia winning both the traditional March, Strathspey and Reel and contemporary Medley Selection categories.


Ed Best is a professional educator with over 40 years of successful pipe band experience and has a bachelor’s degree in music education.  He has held many band and solo titles in all grades including North American Champion, East Coast Champion Supreme, Ontario Champion Supreme, West Coast Champion of Champions, and Canadian Champion. Ed also spent 10 years as a School Music Teacher and band director in all grades from Elementary through the University level. Ed has competed in, and placed at the World Pipe Band Championships in Glasgow, Scotland in many grades up to and including Grade I.   Ed is active as an adjudicator at Highland Games throughout the United States.  He is an “A” panel drumming and ensemble judge in the WUSPBA and a drumming judge in the EUSPBA.  He has served on both the Music Board and Executive committees of WUSPBA. Ed is a regular instructor for individuals, bands and schools across the country.  He provides instruction in person or via Zoom and also helps with music composition, arranging, and band ensemble. His individual students and bands regularly appear in the prize lists at highland games across the country.   Ed is also the head drum instructor for the drumming program at the renowned Piper’s Dojo online school.

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