Posted by Terry Everett on Jul 31, 2019
    Rob Ballew has served as a detective with the Sherman Police Department for about 13 years.  He has been in law enforcement for about 15 years.  During this time he has had the opportunity to meet and interact with many people throughout our community.  Rob admits to really enjoying his job and helping people.
    Rob didn't talk about his job or any cases he has worked over the years.  Instead, he spoke about the Sherman Police Department's Regional Pipe Band.  That's right!  The Sherman Police Department has a Pipe & Drum Band.  
    Rob started playing bagpipes about five or six years ago as a direct result of the death of Chad Key, Grayson County Deputy who was killed in the line of duty.  Rob noticed there weren't any bagpipes being played at Deputy Key's funeral.  He said it's not only traditional but also a great way to honor the family in memory of those who have served our community.
    It took Rob about six weeks to find someone in our area that taught bagpipes.  When he finally found someone in Sherman that taught bagpipes, he learned that this guy only lived a block from the police station.  So about five years ago, Rob put together a group of like-minded individuals to originally make up a combined band between the police and fire departments.  
    The fire department then decided they wanted their own band.  This presented a great opportunity for the police department to open up positions in the band to civilians.  
   They are now known as the Sherman Police Regional Pipe Band.  They currently have ten full playing members and about five or six students.  They currently practice on Thursday evenings. Anyone interested in learning how to play the bagpipes can call the Sherman Police Department or find them on Facebook.
    They will be hosting a free beginner's workshop on Saturday, August 24th.  They will bring in a premier Scottish drumming instructor from California.  They will also have a premier piping instructor coming as well to teach anyone how to play the bagpipes.  This is free of charge to anyone who wants to come.  
    Rob said their goal is to travel to Washington, D.C. in May 2020, to represent the city of Sherman at the National Law Enforcement Memorial.  They have a parade and a pipe band competition that they hope to compete in.  They are actively trying to raise funds to help with costs.
    The Sherman Celtic Festival was started three years ago and has become a huge success.  It is held every year in March the weekend after St. Patrick's Day.  There were seven pipe bands performing this past year.  The 4th Annual Sherman Celtic Festival and Highland Games will be held March 21-22, 2020.  For more information visit their website at https://www.shermancelticfest.com/.
    Rob said it took him about six months of steady practice to be able to play something on the bagpipes that was recognizable.  He admitted to not practicing every day or having several other pipers to practice with.  Anyone wanting to learn would have others to practice with which would be very beneficial to learning.