Unusual music gains attention

By Amanda Parrish

People come in all shapes and sizes, colors and creeds, histories and talents. For some Union students, their choice in musical instruments is as distinctive as they are.

For Christian Wallen, junior chemistry major, a passion for the bagpipes is as ingrained in his personal history as the instrument is in Scotland.

Wallen’s interest in the bagpipes began as a child.

“I thought it was the coolest instrument ever,”  Wallen said.  “I knew  that’s what  I wanted to play.”

He attempted to teach himself how to play bagpipes with a book as a 10-year-old. After taking a break for several years, Wallen said he discovered a bagpipe instructor at a concert in his hometown of Dixon, Tenn.

He began taking lessons and several months later started playing in his instructor’s band, The Nashville Pipes and Drums. Wallen progressed to competing at Scottish highland festivals in both solo and band competitions.

“Competitions were a big motivator for me,” Wallen said. “I would go to competitions, see real players and would want to beat them.”

Wallen has won several competitions in different  grades throughout his years of playing. He won the Piper of the Day award last year at the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games in North Carolina.

Wallen’s passion for the instrument is embedded in its unique history, distinct melody and challenge.

“Piping has its own personality,” he said.

Other students have also been drawn to unusual instruments because of their unmistakable sound.

For Anna Wicker, senior music and Spanish double major, music has always been a passion. Wicker learned to read music by taking piano lessons as a child, but decided she did not want to continue with the instrument. The harp caught her attention, and she began taking lessons at 11 years old.

“I like that it’s unique,” Wicker said. “I love how beautiful it is, and the instrument is graceful, elegant and versatile.”

Wicker’s dedication to her harp spills over into many areas of her life, her car included.

“It was the family van,”  Wicker said. “My parents said,  ‘Hey,  you need this to  transport your  harp.’”

With back seats laid flat and a mattress for padding, Wicker’s 80-pound harp can be safely transported with the help of her harp dolly.

Wicker has played her harp at weddings, parties and banquets, including Union’s Scholarship Banquet where Condoleezza Rice spoke last year.

She enjoys playing background music so she can people-watch while still being a part of what is going on.

Wicker hopes to one day play in a symphony.

“I love making music with a group for the enjoyment of hundreds of people and for the power behind it,” Wicker said.

For Joseph Lindamood, sophomore music education major, the desire to pursue playing the ukulele began over a year ago.

While attending the Florida State University Summer Music Camp, Lindamood saw a man playing the ukulele and was inspired to learn what he called a “mini guitar.”

“It’s travel size for my convenience,” Lindamood said.

Lindamood purchased his instrument on eBay and has been teaching himself to play since May. The first song he learned was “Brown Eyed Girl,” and he has now progressed to writing his own songs.

Lindamood has led worship and performed for Union Idol.

“I learned one song in an hour (for Union Idol),” Lindamood said. “I sat down and said ‘I have a performance tonight, and I want to use my ukulele.’”

After looking up chords and practicing, he was well-prepared to perform a song.

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The Cardinal & Cream is a student publication of Union University in Jackson, Tennessee. Our staff ranges from freshmen to seniors and includes a variety of majors — including journalism, public relations, advertising, marketing, digital media studies, graphic design and art majors.