Q&A with Min Woo Kim

January 8, 2014 

Min Wood Kim

City of residence: Warner Robins

Occupation: Student, Middle Georgia State College

QUESTION: You do something a bit unusual out in the parking lot at MGSC during class breaks. What?

ANSWER: I practice my bagpipes. They’re too loud to play inside. It never happens, but I joke that it might hurt somebody’s ears.

QUESTION: Does it get you funny looks, comments?

ANSWER: Sometimes. But people usually stop by and say they love hearing it or that they’ve never heard one before or they heard one once at their grandfather’s funeral or something.

QUESTION: You probably never run into other bagpipers out there.

ANSWER: No, that’s never happened. But sometimes I see other band members who pass by going to the Nola Brantley library next door.

QUESTION: What band -- and what are you studying at MGSC?

ANSWER: I study nursing with classes mainly at the Warner Robins campus. I went to Mercer University for two years and started playing with the Mercer University Pipes and Drums.

QUESTION: How did that come about?

ANSWER: A friend told me I should play in a band at the school. He said I’d get some scholarship money. I play guitar, drums a little, and play bass at my church. I figured I’d join a band and play guitar.

QUESTION: He didn’t tell you it was a bagpipe group?

ANSWER: No. I didn’t find out until I showed up. It was a big surprise. They said they needed someone to play bass drum, so I figured I could do that easy enough.

QUESTION: And graduated to bagpipe?

ANSWER: Yeah. After a while, I asked our leader how hard it was to play bagpipes, and he said not so hard. I’d played a recorder in elementary school, and he said it was a lot like that.

QUESTION: So was it easy?

ANSWER: Easy may not be the word, but it’s not so hard. I still consider myself a beginner after about three years. Now that I’ve transferred to Middle Georgia State I don’t get to get with them as much. That’s why I practice as much as I can on my own in the parking lot at school.

QUESTION: Did you buy your own pipes?

ANSWER: Yeah. I figure I’ll keep playing. It’s fun, and it’s different. I love it.

QUESTION: How much does a bagpipe cost?

ANSWER: A real one, real beginner bagpipes, start at about $300 or $400. Of course, you can also get really, really expensive bagpipes, too.

QUESTION: Ever think of playing professionally?

ANSWER: I’m studying nursing, but I guess I’m keeping my options open. I may consider further education or going into the military. I don’t know about bagpipes, but who knows?

QUESTION: So you’re out there practicing bagpipes and your name is Min Woo Kim, not something Scottish, so you’re covering a lot of cultural ground.

ANSWER: Yeah. I’m Korean. My family moved here just after I was in fourth grade. I graduated from Houston County High School in ’09. A lot of times I’ve met people who say, “Oh, you’re the guy that plays bagpipes.” I also enjoy surprising people by playing stuff like the theme from “Star Wars” and “Game of Thrones.” I’m working on “Don’t Stop Believing” by Journey, too.

QUESTION: Pretty avant garde for bagpipes. What are your favorite bagpipe tunes?

ANSWER: My favorites are pretty traditional. Two of my favorites are “Pikeman’s March” and “Highland Cathedral.” When the band plays it’s usually traditional stuff in parades or funerals or sometimes a wedding.

QUESTION: In kilts and authentic garb?

ANSWER: Yes. They’re very comfortable.

QUESTION: So, the age-old question: What does one wear under a kilt?

ANSWER: Oh, I can’t tell you that.

Answers may have been edited for length and clarity. Compiled by Michael W. Pannell. Contact him at mwpannell@gmail.com.

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