'I'll bring the smiles, you pay it forward': Ontario bagpiper spreads joy amid COVID-19 lockdown
TORONTO -- With schools locked down, one Toronto-area teacher has taken on a unique side hustle, walking the streets as an on-demand travelling bagpiper.
Nathan Maskerine’s been practicing the bagpipes with the Uxbridge Legion Pipes and Drums for three years, mainly playing parades and festivals. When those gigs dried up, he found a new way to let off some steam.
“It all started when I heard about a woman in a local nursing home,” Maskerine told CTV News Toronto on Tuesday. “She was blind, so traditional cards and pictures on the window wouldn’t do anything. I came back three weeks later and played the bagpipes for her 92nd birthday. It made me feel really good, so I thought I’d like to bring a little more joy into people’s lives in these crazy times.”
A social media post for his piping services led to more and more street gigs for the grade one teacher, and married father of two.
“The bagpipes are like cilantro, not for everyone. But within 24 hours I had 14-15 shows lined up. It snowballed fast.”
Rebecca Engel is one of the people who reached out. She had been planning a birthday bash for two of her children at an indoor trampoline park.
“I saw a post reading ‘bagpipes will travel’ and thought it would be really cool to see him play,” explained Engel. “All the neighbours came out to watch. It was loud, and beautiful. He even played happy birthday for the kids.”
“A couple of families have reached out and said ‘can we compensate you?’ The answer is no, but if you’re insistent please donate to SickKids Hospital. There’s a lot of people out there who need money. I don’t. I’ll bring the smiles, you pay it forward.”