We offer workshops for individuals and for bands at all levels. Our services include piping, snare, bass, and tenor drumming instruction. From coast-to-coast, across the border, and ‘over the pond’, we’re ready when you are.


Instructional Staff

Mike Cole

Mike Cole is one of the world’s foremost experts and educators in pipe band bass and tenor drumming. Mike has also had experience as a leading drummer. He has instructed in workshops throughout North American as well as Scotland.

In 1994 “Twisted Thistle” was the name given to a bass drum mallet that was designed and created by Mike Cole. Since that time Twisted Thistle has evolved into a company that offers a wide variety of musical and instructional services.

Mike began playing the drum set in 1964 and started his pipe band career in 1987. He has written volumes of bass and tenor scores and has played the side, tenor, and bass drum at the highest competitive levels. He also has served as a drum technician and consultant to some of the world’s top level competitive bands, including Simon Fraser University Pipe Band, Dowco Triumph Street, and Inveraray and District Pipe Band, to name a few. Mike is an accomplished drum set player and hand percussionist. Before becoming active in pipe bands he played professionally for 15 years, drumming in a wide variety of bands including work with Chicago blues artists Junior Wells, James Cotton, Sam Lawhorn, Lefty Dizz, as well as R&B legends Sam & Dave.

In 2010 Mike was the bass drummer for the Grade 1 Inveraray and District Pipe Band. He lived in Scotland for the summer and played all of the major contests with the band. Mike played with The City of Chicago Pipe Band from 2011 to 2013 and was a founding member of The Greater Midwest Pipe Band. The band went on to win the Grade 2 North American Championships in their second year.

Mike has won numerous “Best Bass” awards, including the world title in 1998. He won the first Gold Medal bass solo contest offered at Winter Storm in 2007. He went on to become an instructor/judge in the following years. In 2011/2012 Mike served as a director on the board of the Midwest Highland Arts Fund. He returned as a competitor in 2013 and won the Gold Medal again.

Chris Barr 

 Chris started his drumming career at the tender age of 5 with his father, Ted Barr.  With his father’s guidance and instruction, he progressed to his first Grade 1 band, the Metro Police Pipe Band, at 12 years of age.  This was his first experience playing under the legendary Drew Duthart.

Five years later, Chris played under his father’s guidance again with the City of Detroit Pipe Band in Grade 2.  They went on to place 2nd in drumming at the 1996 World Pipe Band Championships.  Upon his father’s leave of absence, he went back to Grade 1 for the next 5 years with the Toronto Police Pipe Band, drumming under Alan Savage.

The opportunity to lead his own drum corps came in the years 2003-2004 with the North Coast Pipe Band.  With his brother Ryan as his right hand man, they accomplished great success winning the 2004 North American Championships in Grade 2.  In 2005, Chris joined the Grade 2 Windsor Police Pipe Band under leading drummer Michael Crawley.  That year, they won the North American Championships and placed 3rd at the World Pipe Band Championships.  He continued with the band in 2006 as it successfully moved into Grade 1.

From 2007-2009, Chris once again played under Drew Duthart with the notoriously famous 78th Fraser Highlanders, led by Bill Livingstone.  This amazing experience allowed him the opportunity to win a Grade 1 Worlds Drum Corps title at the 2007 Worlds Pipe Band Championships, with the entire band placing 4th overall.

In 2010, Chris became lead drummer for the Grade Two City of Chicago Pipe Band.  After an award winning season,  the band was promoted to Grade 1 and took many drumming awards including the top drumming prize at the North American Championships. Chris and Ryan are were members of the Dowco Triumph Street Pipe Band from Vancouver, British Columbia.

He continues to compete in open solo competitions, like he has for the past 14 years.  Chris credits his success to his instructors: Ted Barr, Drew Duthart and Alan Savage.  He also acknowledges his brother, Ryan Barr, who has shared success with him every step of the way.

Adrian Melvin

 Adrian Melvin was born in Dundee, Scotland, began learning bagpipes at the age of 13 years from his father, P/M Kenneth Melvin.  With a strong introduction to piping they played together in the Mackenzie Caledonian Pipe Band.His piping education continued with instruction from P/M Ian Duncan of the Scotrail Vale of Atholl pipe band. Adrian was a member of the ‘Vale’ from 1988 to 1992, when the band won the European and British Championships.Adrian moved to Melbourne, Australia in 1992 to become a police bandsman with the Victoria Police Pipe Band under the direction of P/M Nat Russell.  He played with them in 1998 when they won the World Championships in Glasgow, Scotland.  That same year he won both the Silver Chanter and past winners Clasp in New Zealand in the same weekend, an achievement repeated only one time since.After the Victoria Police Pipe Band stopped competing in 1999, Adrian moved to North America and played with past world champions, The 78thFraser Highlanders, winning a North American title in 1999.  He has also played with Strathclyde Police, LA Scots and City of Washington.  He was P/Sgt and P/M of Midlothian Scottish Pipe Band during a 6 year stint, twice taking the band to 2ndplace in Grade 2 at the North American Championships in Maxville, Ontario.  Adrian has many solo awards on his CV.  He achieved a personal favorite in 2004 at the Argyllshire Gathering in Oban, Scotland, winning the ‘B’ Grade Marches and taking 2ndin the ‘B’ Grade Strathspey & Reel.Adrian now resides in Batavia, Illinois with his wife Jenny and their new baby boy, Angus.  In addition to working as a full-time bagpipe instructor for individual students and bands in the area, he teaches workshops and judges solo and pipe band competitions throughout North America.  He also has gained his Advanced Piping Certificate from the VHPBA in Australia.Currently, Adrian is playing with the Grade 2 Greater Midwest Pipe Band.