Over the years, the Donegal Piper has played at numerous weddings, funerals, memorials, parades, competitions, parties and even pub crawls.
Valerie Byrnes was first exposed to the music of the Scottish Highland Bagpipes at the age of ten. She grew up in Upland, CA where the high school has had a bagpipe band since 1985. In 1997, the Upland High School Pipe Band performed at Valerie's elementary school. Valerie was inspired then and there to learn to play the bagpipes when she got to high school. As a freshman in high school, Valerie began learning to play the pipes and has never been able to give them up. She joined the high school bagpipe band, which was a part of the marching band, of which she was already a member. As a senior in high school, she became the Drum Major, the head of the entire marching band.
During high school, Valerie also joined the competition band that was created by the high school bagpipe instructor, Kevin Blandford. In this band, Valerie met Tress Maksimuk in the spring of 2004. The two quickly became friends and soon found that they had a lot of fun playing together, which made them stronger friends. After years in a competition band, Valerie and Tress decided to make their performance group, the Scottish Rejects, their main focus and concentrate on being performers instead of competitors. At the time, Lela Perriello was already a member, and Valerie took the plunge into unknown territory by starting a band with her two best friends: a decision that has brought many blessings and incredible opportunities.
Over the years, Valerie has come to fall more in love with the instrument that moves so many. The haunting melody of the bagpipes and the dedication and hard work that it takes to master them has kept the Donegal Piper's heart and interest for more than half her life. Valerie has Irish roots and a great love for Celtic culture and music. As of September 2016, Valerie has achieved her Private Pilots License and will continue training to become a career pilot.