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Senate Intern by Day, Bagpiper by Night

Sen. Joe Manchin's office had a private bagpipe performance

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After finishing a long day as intern in Sen. Joe Manchin’s  office, Katy Ross heads out to the streets of Washington to make some money. And she takes her bagpipes with her .  

Roughly three or four evenings a week and a couple hours during the day on weekends, Ross plays for crowds that gather outside the White House. This past weekend, she made $500 busking for several hours.  

Not bad money for a moonlighting intern.  

Ross’ internship ends in the West Virginia Democratic office this week.  

She is a 20-year-old rising junior at West Virginia Wesleyan College, calls Coalton, W.Va., her hometown and is an avid bagpipe player.  

“It’s not exactly an instrument that I can practice inside my apartment,” she said. “So I knew that I would have to practice outside, and I knew that wherever I practiced, I would garner an audience. So I figured I might as well make a little money off of it.”  

The area around the White House made sense.  

“It’s within walking distance of my apartment and there’s always an ever-changing crowd of people there,” she said.  

She uses the cash earned for spending money; her parents paid her rent this summer in D.C.  

And, playing the bagpipes is part of the reason she’s in the nation’s capital in the first place.  

Manchin had heard her play before and “that’s one of the things the senator knew me for before coming here,” she said. “He knows me as the bagpiper.”  

The Democrat asked her to bring her instrument to the office last week, which she did.  

“He asked a lot of questions about how the pipe worked,” Ross said. The office joked about having her lead him to votes while playing.  

She played several songs for Manchin and a crowd of staffers in their office.  

Ross learned to play at 14. She attended her friend’s Scottish dance recital, noticed the bagpipes there and took a liking to them. So, she decided to learn to play, and the man performing at the recital taught her.  

She played on a practice chanter for a year, and then made the step up.  

Before the end of her internship this week, keep an eye out for the senator following behind an intern playing a bagpipes.

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