Andrew Huxley Osborne is the “Piper” behind Piper in the Burg. He has been playing the Great Highland Bagpipe for more than half his life (over 19 years).
After moving to New Hamburg in 2012, he branded himself as Piper in the Burg in order to show support for the small town, and to hopefully help promote local services in the community.
In addition to his full-time career as a nurse, Andrew performs at a wide range of events, including weddings, birthday parties, anniversaries, graduations, family reunions, funerals, corporate and sporting events, fundraisers, and festivals. He has even played for a bachelorette party!
For smaller venues, Andrew also plays the Scottish smallpipes, which offers a softer sound.
When not performing or working at the hospital, Andrew prefers to spend his time outdoors and feasting on the great food and drink Southern Ontario has to offer. He says, “As a craft beer enthusiast, I enjoy visiting the restaurants and pubs in Southern Ontario that serve local food and drinks. I also enjoy the outdoors, going on walks or bike rides with my wife and our Brittany spaniel, Cash. All of this will soon change though, as I’m about to become a dad! Then, I will have to enjoy changing diapers, scrubbing spit up off clothes, and staying up all hours of the night at work and home!”
For those of you wanting to see Andrew play, he will be performing at various events this summer, including the Cambridge Live Music events, the Kitchener Waterloo Relay for Life, and the Canadian Mental Health Association’s Ride Don’t Hide in St. Jacob’s. He will also be the guest piper during McDougall Cottage’s Piping Down the Sun events on July 3rd and August 28th and will also be performing during the Cambridge Scottish Festival’s Ceilidh on Friday, July 15th.
What made you want to start your own business?
As the son of a Scottish immigrant, I truly want to help keep my Scottish heritage alive and share it with others. I believe in great customer service, providing clients with a great performance. Plus, working as a nurse means that my schedule constantly changes and allows me to be flexible and available for gigs that can happen anytime during the week.
What do you want people in Waterloo Region to know about you or your business?
Like most things, all bagpipers were not created equally.
It’s important that you’ve heard a bagpiper play and read credible reviews from past clients before hiring them. I have been playing for more than 19 years and have competed for many of them, earning numerous awards and accolades along the way. I am confident that I am currently one of the best pipers for hire in Ontario.
You can hear numerous samples of my playing on my blog, as part of the #TuneTuesday series. During this year-long series, I recorded 53 different tunes to demonstrate my vast repertoire to clients.
What sets you apart from your competitors?
When you hire a bagpiper like me, one who takes pride in maintaining their instrument, you’re guaranteed to get your money’s worth. I have invested in a well-tailored attire that, by default, means I always look professional at my gigs. I will never show up with an untucked shirt, a wacky tie, wrinkled pants or kilt, or a jacket that doesn’t fit right and looks sloppy (unless you want me to wear a different costume!). The tartan of my kilt is Black Stewart. It incorporates black and primary colours (no outlandish greens or oranges), so it always looks good in photos and blends in.
How many staff members do you have?
I am a solo performer but run my blog, piperintheburg.com, with my wife, Emily. It’s our way of showcasing the wide range of functions I have had the opportunity to perform at, as well as giving readers a taste of my Scottish heritage. We like to say that those who blog together, stay together!
What is the best part of your job?
Combining piping with my career as a nurse means that I am often a part of the best and worst times in people’s lives. I really enjoy the fact that my music plays an important part in the best part of someone’s life, helping them create lifelong memories. It’s wonderful to meet so many different people and learn about their Scottish heritage or the affinity they share with the Celtic culture.
What does your typical day look like?
Well, that depends!
On the days I’m working twelve-hour shifts at the hospital, I don’t have time for much else than corresponding with clients in a timely manner.
On my days off from the hospital, I’m usually heading to a gig or spending time on my music, website, and social media efforts. I spend a significant amount of time updating advertisements, generating blog content, and planning social media. This can easily take up a whole morning some days. In the afternoon, I try to practice for a bit. Being a woodwind instrument, bagpipes require a lot of maintenance. Their African Blackwood is very temperamental and pipers are always trying to maintain a steady environment so it doesn’t crack or swell. Somedays, this can seem nearly impossible with our extreme Canadian weather.
On some occasions, like Robbie Burns or Remembrance Day, I can be out of the house from 9 AM to 10 PM or later playing back-to-back gigs.
What is your background/experience/education?
During my piping career, I have been a member of many competitive pipe bands in Ontario and a guest piper with bands from the United States and Scotland. As a founding member of the Paris Pipe Band (now the Paris Port Dover Pipe Band), I led the band to become the 2005 North American Champions and the Ontario Champion Supreme Pipe Band in Grade 5 in only their second year of competition. As a successful solo piper, I left my competitive career on top, having played up through the grades ultimately reaching the prestigious Grade 1 level.
What do you wish you knew (but didn’t) when you started your business?
What a huge asset networking, social media, and online advertising is! Not only does it grow your own business; it also helps find like-minded, local entrepreneurs and business owners to support.
What advice do you have for other entrepreneurs in Waterloo Region?
Network using #WRTalk on Twitter every Wednesday night at 7:30! If you’re a musician, step outside the music world to truly get noticed.
What inspires you about Waterloo Region?
There are so many local businesses that enjoy supporting each other by spreading the word about others services and products. There truly is a culture of supporting local.
If applicable, what do you do to give back to the community or to others in your industry?
I volunteer to perform at various charity events throughout the region, especially those in support of cancer, mental health, and Alzheimer’s disease given my health care professional background. I also recently joined the Waterloo Region chapter of 100 Men That Give a Damn.