Musically inclined 12-year-olds usually play the trumpet or clarinet. Nicholas Bosca, a sixth grader at Gahanna Middle School East, plays the bagpipes.

Musically inclined 12-year-olds usually play the trumpet or clarinet. Nicholas Bosca, a sixth grader at Gahanna Middle School East, plays the bagpipes.

"I like the sound of it," Nicholas said. "It's cooler than some of the other instruments - all of them."

Not that Nicholas doesn't appreciate other instruments. He said he wants to play drums in the middle school jazz band. His father, Christopher, has started teaching him banjo, which Nicholas finds difficult. Nicholas's brother, Mario, 15, plays bass guitar.

"We're a very musical family," Nicholas's mother, Courtney, said.

Nicholas said his dad and brother inspired him to play music, but he wanted to bring a new instrument into the house.

Bagpipes in pop culture haven't impressed Nicholas. He hasn't watched the movie "Braveheart," and he doesn't care for AC/DC's famous bagpipe song, "It's a Long Way to the Top." Instead, the stories of heroic battlefield bagpipers, from the Napoleonic wars to World War II, inspired him to pick up the instrument.

The loudness of the pipes attracted enemy fire in the trenches, but thankfully, Nicholas doesn't have to worry as he cradles his pipes in his arm on the Bosca patio. Three pipes, called drones, stick out of the bag to produce sound. Nicholas pushes air - a lot of it - into the mouthpiece and the instrument blares out its distinctive half-melody, half-wail.

Nicholas's bagpipe instructor, Joe Thomas, said holding the bagpipes and mastering the breathing rhythm pose the biggest challenges to beginners. He compared playing the pipes to holding an octopus. Thomas said young musicians like Nicholas can learn it, though, if they practice enough.

"It's miraculous," Thomas said. "All of a sudden you're doing it and it's nothing to you."

Giving up on the difficult instrument carries a price tag: basic Highland pipes (named for a region of Scotland) cost more than $1,000. Nicholas owned a small set of fireside pipes and borrowed Highland pipes from his teacher before his family invested in his "good set of pipes."

Courtney said she likes seeing the confidence her son has developed from playing over the last four years.

"Nicholas spends his time carefully," she said. "He has to really, really like something to spend his time doing it."

Nicholas plays at public events like Gahanna's Westie Walk and Memorial Day services. He wears a white dress shirt, a cap, high socks with tassels, and of course, the kilt. Most people ask him to play funereal hymns, like "Amazing Grace" and "Scotland the Brave." He likes the memorial songs, but he favors "High Road to Gairloch" because it's "fast and upbeat."

Nicholas said he doesn't mind wearing the kilt in front of his classmates when he plays at school assemblies. He said his friends think it's cool he plays the bagpipes.

"It's a lifetime commitment," Nicholas said. "But it's really fun and it's worth it."