People and Places
Michael’s bag of tricks By Kate Sears

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Michael Robertson has been playing the bagpipes since he was seven, and at 73 there’s no sign of him stopping.

“As soon as I started playing I was hooked,” Michael says. “Nothing else would distract me. My father was a talented musician and encouraged our whole family to take up a musical instrument. To entertain ourselves in the simpler times we’d all sit around the radio and play our instruments together or attend concerts.”

Practising for at least two hours a day, Michael joined The Rats of Tobruk Memorial Pipe Band in Melbourne, the youngest of its 24 members. Performing every weekend became the norm as the band graced such events as the Royal Melbourne Show and the Good Friday Appeal and performed at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl and various competitions.

“It was a lot of work but I can look back now and tell you that it was a wonderful part of my life. We all knew each other so well, and the seniors would look out for me and even pick me up for the events. I tell my students that you can never master the bagpipes. It’s a very challenging instrument. You either like them or hate them.”

Michael keeps his skills sharp by practising regularly and playing at weddings, funerals and events. He even got the privilege of leading the Hastings branch of the RSL during the 2017 Anzac Day march in Hastings. He’s played for charity and inspired his students in Lakes Entrance so much that they began their own band.

You can catch Michael at this year’s Dawn Service at the Crib Point Cenotaph. “Playing on Anzac Day always sends a shiver up my spine. It makes me realise how fortunate we are right now here in Australia.”


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