David MacPhee established himself as a fixture in our community when he began teaching Celtic fiddle and piano lessons to fourteen students at the Hall in 2005. His student base grew quickly as word spread of his affable and kind personality. There are few in David’s generation that are as committed to seeing the Celtic Music tradition continue as David is committed to the cause.
Born in Ottawa, David’s grandmother, Mary Frances MacPhee, was a strong influence in his life and a prominent pianist who played with local and visiting fiddlers. His father played banjo and saxophone and his uncle and aunt are well-known in their own rights as a fiddler and a pianist. David was a natural musician and his uncle soon dropped off a fiddle for him. The rest is history as David undertook teaching himself both the fiddle and piano; he became accomplished on both instruments. David was asked to join the Glengarry Strathspey and Reel Society as one of its youngest members.
David’s initial interest in teaching stemmed from the idea that the next generation was missing out on the tradition of Glengarry’s Celtic music heritage. His generosity of spirit has endeared him to his students. He always has extra time to spend and takes an interest in their lives. In addition, his students have performed almost every year at the Manor House Social in Williamstown, the Williamstown Fair, and countless weddings and funerals.
David has continued to steep himself in Celtic traditional music. One can often hear David playing an old recording as he listens intently, noticing the nuances of each player. He then shows those to his students as he explores how to recreate the same sound. The last number of years, David’s students have performed at the Highland Games in Maxville. Giving of his free time, he opens the Hall one or two mornings each week in July, inviting whoever can come to practice together. More advanced students are encouraged to come play with younger ones and so the tradition of giving and mentoring is passed on to the next generation. In 2014 a minimum of 26 students played in the Young fiddler’s Showcase on Friday of the Games – a testament to the man that David is.