Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Pipe Band Forum 3-23-07

Kilted Hockey Coach (my post on my exploits as a kilted hockey coach)

Right after the St. Patrick's Day parade I had to hustle back to the ice rink to coach my son's Pee Wee Hockey team.No, I wasn't going to play goalie. I was just fishing pucks out of the net during the teams warmups while our goalie was getting some last minute adjustments to his pads. I had several Mom's express their disappointment in my ability to keep from slipping on the ice.

Where did you get the Gillie Skates?

Gillie skates? You mean these?I think you can get 'em almost anywhere.

Pipe Band Forum 3/21/07

Wearing a Kilt (a topic I started to get some feedback on non piping wearing of the kilt)

I've noticed that there are quite a few members of our band who can hardly wait to get out of their kilts when a performance or competition is over. I actually enjoy wearing it for several reasons - not the least of which is the attention I get. I had planned on buying my own kilt this year, but have discovered that Elsie Stuehmeyer is doing a class in our area next month, so signed up to make my own! I got my tartan a few weeks ago and can hardly wait!My wife and I were in France a few years back to pick up our son who had been living there for a couple of years. We stayed with some friends of his in Bezier who were from Scotland. The father, Burt, was an awesome host. When we arrived at their home he was there in his kilt and hose; full of stories and a VHS tape of the last year's tatoo playing on the television. We were marvelously entertained during our stay including a thrilling ride into Spain with me on the left side of the car facing on-coming traffic without a steering wheel to help me. Burt was perfectly at home in his kilt and I was wondering how many others enjoy wearing one. I don't think you have to be Scottish to be comfortable do ya? and for those in Scotland, having never been there, I was curious as to how common it is for casual dress? That's probably a silly tourist type question, much like questions I get from people down here about igloo building in my native Canada ... but still curious all the same.

Copied from http://bearkilts.com/It's_a_guy_thing.htmlIce on the testes is a common recommendation for men with low sperm production.

Glad I never had that problem ...

"People who don't wear underwear are immoral." Rubbish. People who don't wear underwear are generally less ashamed of their bodies and have greater self esteem. Immodesty is not immorality.

I don't agree with this for two reasons: 1) Who says being modest equates to being ashamed of your body? That's like saying you're ashamed of your bank account because you won't reveal the balance to the world - truth is it's personal and no ones business but my own - I'm very proud of my bank account. I think being modest shows more respect for your body and for others than leaving naught to the imagination. 2) Who says that wearing nothing under a kilt is immodest? You can still go without and be modest.
Synthetics ... good or bad? (my topic on where to draw the line on artificial bagpiping)

There has always been a lot of resistance to changes and from what I've seen the piping world is no different. I think it's a good thing, because it forces those with innovative ideas to make their best attempts at comformity to what looks, sounds and feels traditional.I was not around when drone reeds went synthetic and missed out on that debate (though it still flares from time to time); and I just caught the tail end of the synthetic bag debate (which still rages in some quarters). Still there are many technical developements that are resisted. I remember when I bought my pipes I ordered a zipper bag and my instructor tried very hard to steer me away from them. Now he plays a zipper bag and so does nearly our entire band. Being fairly new to piping, I don't really have any prejudices yet, so I've just done the research and ordered what I felt would help me. For example, I've done fairly well with strike in and cut off, but I usually wind up squeezing the heck out of my bag to get a good cut off at the end (curse of the synthetic bag). I bought a set of drone valves for my canister system and ... problem gone!!I've been looking at the Clanrye chanter reed. Haven't bought one yet, but I think I will sometime. I think as synthetic chanter reeds keep improving and someone starts to win in competition with them they will become fairly standard.I've heard many comments in our band among older pipers about the nightmares of old cane drone reeds and seasoning hide bags, etc. Then I watch our pipe major and pipe sergent working on chanter reeds and wonder how long it will be before they won't have to do that anymore.Are we headed to simply plugging in our deger electric bagpipe to an amp and knocking out a few sets without ever squeezing a bag? Where do you think the line will finally be drawn?

There actually seems to be a little step away from synthetic bags going on. Here in Alberta, ALACL have gone away from synthetic bags and have started playing sheepskin. This is also the case (apparently) with some bands overseas (SLOT).

I've seen that too, but there will always be revivals now and then. I read a story the other day about a couple of companies in the US producing vinyl records again because of a resurgence in their popularity. So is it just naustagia or does it really have to do with quality?There are so many variables, so many opinions and things change so quickly.

A clanrye reed will be a source of heart ache for you....While a cane pipe chanter reed reacts to moisture or lack thereof and changes and/or settles etc, the clanrye will not...so you could be playing away...your band will ease into the sound your pm wants....and you will not....the moisture also has nowhere to go...and will eventually impede the vibration of the blades....much like a practice chanter reed.....

I would never play the clanrye reed with the band; certainly not without the PM's approval. I wanted to get one just to play around with it. Moisture is a problem with drone reeds too, but there are ways of handling the moisture and you could do the same with a synthetic chanter reed.I've seen a couple of "nevers" mentioned in this thread and I have to agree with Bobby when he said that never is a very long time.Certainly at this time cane chanter reeds are superior ... but, I also think change is inevitable. Obviously people are buying the clanrye reed even though everyone agrees it isn't as good as cane. What's going to happen when someone developes a synthetic reed that competes with cane for sound quality?

Pipe Band Forum 3/12/07

Unkind Remarks (a topic I started about rude people)

I just posted a response to the thread on piping outdoors when I thought of an experience I had on a warm day in December when I was practicing for a few minutes in my back yard. I was wondering if anyone else has had any in-your-face unkind or rude remarks.It was early afternoon on a Saturday, so I figured anyone who had been up all night Friday would be awake by then and it was past most toddler's nap time. I felt the timing was good. I had already tuned up in the house and went out to play a few tunes on my patio and practice some marching for my competition tunes.I got through three or four tunes when a neighbor kid the next street over yelled, "Shut up!!" The kid was probably 9-11 years old and he promptly ducked back into his house when I looked over there.Being a good neighbor I simply went back inside to finish my practicing.My feelings were a bit hurt though. All of my experience playing outdoors has always brought praise from my neighbors and the kids especially.My wife told me she really enjoyed my playing. When I told her what had happened she said she had heard it and knew the kid who said it. She asked me if I remembered last summer when mail had been stolen from many of our neighbor's mail boxes and some of the boxes had been vandalized. I had heard something about it. She told me that they finally caught the kid who had been doing it and it was this same kid! After that I didn't feel so bad - I went out and played three more tunes. I should have invited the band over for an outdoor session. What do you think?

Pipe Band Forum 3/12/07

Playing the Pipes outside (my comments on playing outside)

I love to play in the park near our home. It always seems to gather an audience and I've never had an unkind remark; in fact just the opposite usually.A couple of times I've gone to church and had neighbors say they heard me on the pipes while they were working in their yards and stopped to enjoy the tunes. I'm no great soloist, but it does make me feel good that others love the sound of the pipes as much as I do.Good thread - there truely is nothing like the sound of the pipes outside, especially in a beautiful setting.

Pipe Band Forum 3/10/07

Mental Preparation (my thoughts on preparing for competition)

Last year was my first year competing. It was a lot harder (mentally) than I thought it would be. I hadn't even been voted into the band yet, so I had never even performed or marched in a parade. I felt very comfortable with the tunes, but the nerves were really getting to me. I knew that if I didn't come up with a way to deal with it I would blow it.To make matters even worse, I was going to be piping for my son's drum solo.I finally told my son that if I started to choke on his solo, to just keep going and I would try to come back in. I then convinced myself that this first competition was just a "warm up" competition and didn't really matter. I also knew I'd be piping against 12 other pipers and told myself that as long as I felt good about my performance the rest didn't matter.The best performance I had was for my son's solo and once that was over I felt a huge weight off my shoulders and did reasonably well for my own solos.I've used this type of mental preparation for all of my competitions and it seems to have worked for me. The only time I'm really nervous is when I play for my son and I guess that's because I don't want to ruin his hard work.So how do you get psyched up for competition or a performance?

I haven't done any solo competition, but for some reason at this point, it doesn't seem like it would be as stressful as playing at a lesson, because the judge doesn't know me, and doesn't know my weaknesses, the way my instructor does. I'll know more after I do it, I'm sure!

Ohh ... it will be stressful, but use the suggestions here and you'll be fine. It's not just the judge you'll be playing for. Remember that a lot of the competitions are part of scottish festivals and games, so they can really draw a crowd and a lot of the spectators know good piping when they hear it. You're also playing in front of fellow competitors and other pipers from your band and the other bands who will be listening to every dropped doubling and garbled grip. It's stressful, but it really forces you to prepare and to focus. All in all it's a great experience, but it's very different from playing a private session for your instructor.

It is truely interesting how different this performance anxiety can effect individuals.

In a band setting I feel relaxed. The focus is not on me, so I can focus on my playing. When I first started to compete in solo's I would get so nervious that I would loose feeling in my hands.

I am just the opposite. Don't get me wrong, I still get nervous about solo competition, but I'm really not as worried about screwing up my individual performance as much as I worry about screwing up the band's performance. I don't want to be the piper responsible for a poor showing. When I play with the band I really have to stay focused.

Pipe Band Forum 3/9/07

Pipe Instructor credentials (a topic I started on the subject)

If you were to go out today and seek tuition on the bagpipes, what would you be looking for?What would you have on your check list of questions to ask and what would the ideal answer to those questions be?Let's say you find an average, but competent instrutor. What are you willing to pay him/her?Also, anyone out there with an instrutor horror story?

Here are my top five:
1. Enthusiastic about teaching.
2. Playing ability - hard for a non-piper to judge and while I hate to open a can of worms by this statement, I think their grade level as a competative piper will say a lot.
3. References - who has he/she taught and how good are they?
4. Fees - you get what you pay for, but not always. I think this ties into my first item - is he/she enthusiastic about teaching or enthusiastic about taking your money. Let me also say here that I don't think FREE lessons are a good idea - where there is no investment there is less committment.
5. Patience - you can find this out from other students, but I think it is critical because the bagpipe is not an easy instrument to learn.

Does that mean a person can't learn anything from Donald Macpherson because he doesn't compete?

Oh brother - here we go again!Here is a quote from Donald Macpherson's bio - just for the record!!!

Donald’s performance over a truly remarkable forty years at the top of competitive (emphasis added) piping bears this out. ... This was a piper who, whenever he stepped onto a platform, inspired a hush of anticipation.Donald’s run of competition successes began with the Glasgow Battalion of the Boys Brigade Championship. After serving in the RAF during World War ll, he entered the Oban meeting for the first time in 1948 and became only the second piper to win the double of Gold Medal and Open Pibroch.

... and it goes on from there with all the medals and prizes he's won IN COMPETITION. Go ahead, name a top piper who never competed. Be honest, competetive piping is what it is. It may not be the only way to prove you're a good piper, but in our world, it is one of the best ways and for someone who doesn't have a clue as to an instructor's ability, his/her grade level is a good indicator of their piping proficiency - not the only indicator - but a good one.

Likewise, a great performer may not have the patience and teaching skills to be a great teacher.The point is that as a uneducated beginner, you are going to have to use some kind of criteria to evaluate and differentiate between instructors and because there are bagpipe competitions, it is a good criteria to use to evaluate your instructor's proficency on the instrument.

We seem to be talking about having choices, problem is most people don't have any choices as there is no access to good instructors.

So very true. In fact, in our area it is difficult to find out who is instructing at all if you're not involved in piping or drumming or know someone who is.Perhaps another way to evaluate an instructor is to listen to the band his students generally play for. That is more the case in our area and probably the best way to find a good instructor around here. There are several good bands and good instructors here in Utah.

Pipe Band Forum 3/4/07

Piping standards for public/paid performances (a topic I started and got a lot of interesting responses to)

I have read comments here and there about being able to play to a certain standard before playing in public or performing for money. The piping "school" I attend has a recital once a year and of course, most of the students are still squeeking and squawking, but that is to be expected in that setting. In public however it is embarrassing to hear a piper skip, sputter and die. On the other hand even good pipers have bad days (ie AG at Ford's funeral)To any of you who do any busking or play for pay, or if you even have an opinion about it, at what point could one consider such an activity? I have heard that busking or paid performances should be left to pipers who are solid grade 3 or better. Any thoughts? and please explain.

I asked the question because I had heard some very strong criticism of some who would attempt to do any busking or paid performances who hadn't "paid their dues" so to speak. I'm not exactly sure what was meant by that - it was left largely undefined - but attempts were made and I didn't agree with many of them. I like what I have heard here thus far, and I agree with the postings. I have purchased and regularly listen to music from the world's best pipers and I know that I am not one of them (no where near in fact), but I compete and enjoy performing. Who would play this loud, in-your-face instrument and not want to be heard? I plan on busking when I get a non-band kilt (taking a kilt making class in April) because I believe band uniform should be used only for band performances - this isn't always practiced.I heard a definition of an environmentalist as "someone who already has their cabin." In otherwords, I'm already here and I don't want neighbors. Nothing against environmentalists, I just think there are a lot of buskers and wedding and funeral performers who don't want anyone horning (or piping) in on their business.

Further Followup:
Paying dues means putting in the time to learn the instrument to a minimal level of good presentation. You don't have to win anything to be hired to pipe a bride down the isle to Scotland the Brave, but you do have to know how to make the bagpipe, sound like a bagpipe and not an arsenal of squacking cats.

That's a good definition, but some pipers just don't hear themselves that way. At least presenting yourself before a competent judge allows you to see some constructive critisim about your piping. My take is that if a piping judge feels you are playing "at" Grade IV level, you are at the minimal level of good presentation. If you can't please a judge at Grade IV then perhaps you shouldn't be getting paid to play and if you're willing to expose yourself to a paying audience and say you're a piper then why not expose yourself to a pipe judge and see if you're right?!

More Followup:
I wouldn't even go that far in saying that you have to expose yourself to a piping judge to seek approval. All that's needed is a word from your instructor that they think you have reached a level where it's good enough for public performance. Playing STB, AG, GH, Or Bonnie Dundee doesn't require a medal to play in public, just a nod.

No arguement about the "doesn't require a medal". In fact, even if you are competing you don't need a medal to be considered at grade level. The only problem I have with getting the "nod" from your instructor is that there is no standard to be a pipe instructor - heck, I could even start instructing tomorrow if I wanted to and I could pick up three paying students today (three co-workers who have asked me if I teach). Judges on the other hand (at least in our Association) do have to meet a minimum standard and it's fairly rigorous.

Competition is only one venue a piper has available to them, it proves nothing other than it's a learning tool.

I agree it is only one venue, but I think it is a very important one. I believe competition at anything is much more than just a learning tool and it does prove something. As we have all seen, you can sometimes fool the public with a poor pipe performance, but you won't fool a judge. It takes guts to present yourself before a knowledgable judge and be held to a standard of playing. I think competition builds character and competance that is difficult to do elsewhere.You can be a good piper and never compete, but I would hazard a guess that amoung the ranks of the better pipers, they have all competed at some time in their piping career.Saying that it is just a learning tool and doesn't prove anything is like saying that the Olympics is just a learning tool for athletes and winning it is no big deal.

I agree and don't dispute that good and even great performances can and are given by non-competing pipers. In fact I really don't want to suggest that you HAVE to compete to be qualified to play for pay. It suggests a level of arrogance that I detest. At the same time, I hear pipers on this forum and others, moan and complain about the bad name that piping gets from poor pipers performing in public and I tend to agree.If the real judge is the public and if they are pleased and willing to lay down the cash, who are we to criticize. If, on the other hand, there is a standard of play (which seems to be the concensus) then what is the best way for an individual piper to determine they have reached that standard?The pipe instructor is certainly one way, but I'm simply suggesting that the best way for a piper to find out is to see what a qualified pipe judge says. You don't have to win medals to get approval from a judge.

Does the judge at a competition give you a good sheet?Yes - means you can hold your nerve in front of a judge and play fine on the day.No - means you cannot hold your nerve in competition OR you had a bad day.Either way this gives no indication of your ability to play in public when you are not under pressure. Playing in a competition does put you under pressure.

There is pressure in competition, but you must feel a lot more comfortable playing in public than I do 'cause I think there is a lot of pressure ... "stage fright" wasn't a term coined just for competition performances. Our band has a concert on Saturday and I'm feeling a lot of pressure.

A judge at a competition will only tell you how you played on the day. He is not in a position to say how you play overall.

You're right, but you have to admit that the better overall pipers are going to have consistently better score sheets.

Your tutor and more importantly yourself know (or should know) when the time comes.Try and keep things simple.....can you do the gig or not? Yes or no? Your choice. The simpler you make things the easier it becomes.

What about this guy …

I know of a person who has a certificate, you don't want to hear him play!

PB007 doesn’t think he should be instructing, but he is and he obviously thinks he’s good. It’s interesting that the fact this band was dead last in a grade IV competition is a measure of their playing ability.Again, I hope you'll read all my posts on this thread before thinking I'm a jerk about this. I honestly don't believe you have to compete to be a great piper, but for someone who wonders or worries about their ability, competition is a great way to find out if you have it or not and as PB007 has indicated in his last post, your instructor may not always be the best person to determine that. Too bad for this guy's students.

Pipe Band Forum 3/3/07

Dropping out of Piping (my topic about what makes pipers quit)

Any idea on the percentage of beginning pipers who drop out and at what point they tend to quit. I was thinking about this the other day. I heard my instructor has about 40 students (I would guess that's the average) but I don't see a lot of new pipers coming into our band - in fact, I was voted in with one other piper last year and there haven't been any new pipers coming to practice since.There were some critical points in my training at which I strongly considered giving it up.

Starting on the pipes
First practices with the band
Increase in tuition fees
Frustration with instructor
Just before stepping in front of the judge for my first solo

And I'm sure there'll be more. I told myself when I started that I would never quit no matter what, and that has sustained me ... that and keeping my expectations realistic.I've heard various estimates about percentages of pipers that move up the grades, but I would guess that the drop out rate in the beginner ranks is very very high. What do you think? And what factors do you think influence quitting (ie. age, money, musical background, hearing loss, scary people on the bagpipe forums, etc)?

Pipe Band Forum 3/2/07

YouTube pipers (a topic I started to find out how others felt about YouTube pipers)

I did a search on YouTube checking out the clips of Red Hot Chili Pipers and hit on a wide variety of bands and pipers. I went through a bunch of them and came away somewhat inspired. Let me explain...Of the clips I watched I would say that the majority were pretty poor examples of piping. Of the rest, the majority were very good to professional level pipers and bands and the minority were average to slightly above average pipers.I was inspired because I have enough of an ego to believe I'm better than the poor pipers; so seeing them makes me feel pretty good about where I'm at. I am in awe of the really good pipers - it motivates me to work hard. And I'm inspired by the average pipers because I feel thats where I'm at and they look like they're having as much fun as I am.My conclusion is that I like YouTube's pipers - poor, average or professional level, they all have a way of making me feel good about my piping.

Pipe Band Forums 2-28-07

Pipe Tunes at my funeral (a post I started on the topic)

I was reading through some of the responses to the "Amazing Grace" thread and noticed that the thread was starting to wander a bit into "What tunes are you going to request at your own funeral?" so I thought I'd just go ahead and start a thread on that subject.I have two documents for my family when I pass away. One is my will which will be like Christmas for my wife and kids; and the other is a letter to my family which details where everything is (life insurance, bank accounts, debts, etc) as well as my requests for my funeral service. I wanted to be cremated, but my wife will have nothing to do with that, so it will be a "normal" casket and burial type funeral.I have, of course, requested pipes at my funeral, but only at the cemetary. I want two pipers to play Highland Cathedral as the casket is moved to the gravesite. The pipers can decide on the arrangement and playing of seconds on the piece. After the graveside ceremony I have asked for a lone piper to play through Amazing Grace once then joined by the second piper playing seconds (fairly standard arrangement). I've debated about whether to have the pipers slow walk away while playing and have decided against it.If my wife and kids want jigs and reels later that will be up to them, but I want a lot of weeping and wailing at the grave side - they'll have plenty of time to celebrate. (yipee, no more pipe practicing in the house)

Pipe Band Forum 2/21/07

A tune I wrote and posted on the Forum

This is one of my first attempts at a composition. It's a fairly simple little tune and only two parts. My 2 year old grandson, Carson, loves to skate with Grandpa but he flops and slides all over so I wind up carrying him most of the time. He also loves Grandpa to play the chanter for him (the pipes are a bit much). So I composed his own tune - he asks for it all the time.I was going to upload an audio clip of it, but mp3 and wma are invalid uploads.Here, I'll whistle it for you ...

Pipe Band Forum 2-21-07

My response to what my user name means

Really not much to do with piping, but it is a name I use just about everywhere on the internet.
WJ - West Jordan, Utah
Jag - West Jordan High School Jaguars
Fan - All of my kids have attended this High School and played sports there of one sort or another. My wife and I are still on the football booster club and have been the team
photographers for the past 8 years. We have only missed 5 games (home or away) in that time.

Pipe Band Forums 2/21/07

Member's Interview (my responses at the time to these questions)

1. What band are you currently playing with?
Salt Lake Scots Pipe Band / J T Dunnie Pipe Band
2. How many years experience do you have?
about 4 years
3. Who/What inspired you to play in a pipe band?
I had a friend who started on the chanter when we were in 3rd grade. I wanted to learn, but my parents made me take piano (never caught on). I'm now 49 years old. My friend (I recently learned on a trip to Canada) is an open piper in Alberta and I'm now competing in Grade IV. He probably has no idea who I am, but he first got me wanting to play and the many pipers I've heard since then have only encouraged that desire.
4. Who taught you to pipe/drum?
P/M Dennis McMaster
5. Are you the only one in your family involved with a pipe band?
My youngest son (11) is a drummer and my wife has been drumming for a few months and should be on the tenor in the band by mid summer.
6. What awards (solo or band) have you won for your playing?
This was my first year competing band and solo. I also played for my son's solos. I placed in each of my competitions except one (see #8) and took a first in Grade IV 2/4 march at Canmore Alberta. My son placed in all of his competitions as well.
7. What are your future piping/drumming-related goals?
I set three goals for myself when I started piping.1) Play the pipes grave side on Memorial Day at my father-in-law and grandparent's graves.2) March and play with a band in a parade.3) Compete as a Grade II piper.I've accomplished the first two goals. The last will be a goal I may never reach, but I'll keep working towards it.
8. Have you had anything embarassing happen to you while playing?
I competed at the Calgary Highland Games last summer. I decided to give the Strathspey/Reel a try, but hadn't really worked on a set because in WUSPBA Grade IV doesn't have an S/R. I made a flub on the third measure of the first part of my strathspey and it totally fell apart from there. I wasn't going to quit, but maybe I should have. It was a "disaster"; a quote from the judge and he was being kind. The judge actually did make some nice comments on my score sheet, but I knew it wasn't what I was capable of so I didn't feel too bad, just a bit embarassed.
9. Have you received worthwhile advice that you'd like to share?
Not much advice, but a lot of encouragement.
10. Do you have your own advice/words of wisdom for other pipers/drummers?
It's a big sand box - play nice.

Pipe Band Forum - 2-21-07

My first post on Pipe Band Forum

I'm a 49 year old who has been learning to play the pipes for about four years now. Originally I am from Calgary Canada, but I've been living in the United States for quite a while now. I'm a member of the Salt Lake Scots Pipe Band (Utah) and was referred to this forum by another member of the band. I am married and have five kids and three grandkids. My youngest son (11) started drumming three years ago and my wife started drumming last year. My son and I started competing last year and had a blast. I played for his solos and he laughed at mine (just kidding).

Dunshire Bagpipe Forum - 3/22/07

Crappy sounding Pipes, Good Piping... (my comments on this thread)

I heard a judge once say that the prize goes to the best tune, played with the best technique on the best pipes. Don't know if he speaks for all judges, but that is what I want to strive for in competition.

Dunshire Bagpipes Forum - 3-5-07

Taking Pipes on an Airplane (my comments on my own experience)

We have a member of our band who works for TSA (the security dudes at the US airports). He was at band the other day telling everyone about some special training they just got on their scanners for recognizing bagpipes. I'd just gone up to Canada last week and took my pipes. They got checked, but I found out it was because of my Piper's Pal on my chanter. The guy took a quick look at it and let it go. I never take my maintenance stuff in my pipe case when I fly. Too much questionable stuff in there.

Dunshire Bagpipe Forum 2/27/07 - 3/1/07

Biblical Bagpipe References (my comments on this topic and some responses)

I think the 1 Kings reference is the best.40 And all the people came up after him, and the people piped with pipes, and rejoiced with great joy, so that the earth rent with the sound of them.Of course the pipes referenced there were not the modern bagpipe, but what other instrument could "rent" the earth with it's sound eh?!

Response: Originally posted by Ari:As for "And all the people came up after him, and the people piped with pipes, and rejoiced with great joy, so that the earth rent with the sound of them.", this (as I already have said), has refers to flute-like instruments, not "pipes" as we know them. The pipe idea is nothing more than bad translation gone awry.

Reply: Cool! A flute that can rent the earth with it's sound. I'd like to hear that in an orchestra!Of course bagpipes as we know them today weren't used, but it had to be an instrument of some volume and it is obvious the Isrealites used very loud marshalling instruments in battle. Bagpipes were used for the same purposes.What was a "flute" 2,000 years ago? It could have referred to several different instruments. What is a "horn" today? I don't think it is beyond the realm of possibility that instruments referred to in the Bible could well have been predecessors of the modern bagpipe.It's all speculation anyway. The Bible wasn't written to document all the musical instruments that were being played at the time so anyone who says this was definately this or that was definately that is guessing.As far as the hebrew translation of the word, here's something of interest:
Quote: The Hebrew word 'chaliyl' (khaw-leel') occurs in six Old Testament references. It was translated 'pipe' or 'pipes' in the King James Version, and 'flute' in the NIV. Some now think from archaeology work by Nelson Glueck, that this instrument was a primitive clarinet, a chalumeau. The chalumeau is a single reed pipe. However, others think the 'chaliyl' was a Hebrew 'shawm'. Most references say a shawm is a double reed instrument that is the ancestor of the oboe

.... and the bagpipe???

http://www.katapi.org.uk/MusicOfTheBible/Contents.htm http://mywebpages.comcast.net/wheelerjw/MITB/MITB.htm http://www.utexas.edu/courses/wilson/ant304/projects/projects98/campbellp/campbellp.html http://www.reedmusictradition.net/html/instruments/102_e_dissemination.html http://www.rakkav.com/kdhinc/pages/instruments.htm http://www.hebrewhistory.info/factpapers/fp008_music.htm

Just some of the many texts on the subject. In spite of the fact that the actual word "bagpipe" doesn't exist in the Bible (which was never suggested), there are opinions by those much more learned than I, that the types of instruments referenced in the Bible may indeed have been reeded instruments of the type which would have been predecessors of the modern bagpipe. I simply want to point out that there are other opinions out there and even scholars can not agree.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Dunshire Bagpipe Forum 2/20/07

Plans on solo competition (more of my comments on competing)

Don't wait until you think you are ready to compete. Once you send off the application and fees for your first competition, you'll get ready.Last year was my first year competing and knowing others in my band that I would be competing against made me feel very much out of my league.I never gave a thought to making the prize list, I just wanted to play my best and see what the judges had to say so I would know what to work on.I was surprised by the whole experience. The judges were amazingly patient and gave wonderful encouragement and advice. I took a chance and competed in Grade IV on a trip to Alberta Canada. I received the same encouragement and respect there even when I totally trashed a Strathspey/Reel in Calgary. All in all, I encourage any new piper to compete even if you're an older beginner like myself (49).

Dunshire Bagpipe Forum 2/20/07

5 years - I'm thinking of quiting. (my comments on a topic posted about staying motivated)

I'm 49ish years old and have been taking lessons almost 4 years (3 on the pipes). I told myself when I started that I would keep working at it. I set three goals for myself. 1. Play the pipes at the graveside of my father-in-law and grandparents on memorial day. I have done this every year for three years and my family enjoys it better each year - I never said anything about playing perfectly. 2. March and play the pipes in a parade with a pipe band. I did this four times last year. I'm far from playing every tune perfectly - or even very well for that matter, but I keep working at it. 3. And this is the kicker ... play at a Grade II level. I may never reach this goal, but I will work at it. I competed in Grade IV last year and certainly was not a head turner - at least not in a good way. I expect to do better this year, but if I ever get to Grade II it will be years from now.We all have our moments when we want to give it up. I'm struggling with the band thing myself right now, but I'll stick it out.My sage advice: Don't quit and audition for the band anyway. Even if you get turned down this time, it will be a good experience so you'll know what to expect.

Dunshire Bagpipe Forum 2/20/07

Amazing Grace - the movie (my comments about the song Amazing Grace)

Quote from a different poster:
I dread the repercussions this will have on pipers who have been trying for so long to return this trite piece to the oblivion it richly deserves - at least as far as its use as a pipe tune goes.


I love Amazing Grace and everything about the tune - especially played on the bagpipes. For a "trite piece" it has certainly enjoyed more recognition than any piper who has played it and it will continue to outlive those who view it with poor regard. It has a message of renewal and hope and is IMHO a powerful, stirring piece that deserves to be played and heard on a powerful, stirring instrument.There is a reason you get tired of playing it - people love it and want to hear it. It is a beloved hymn and nothing moves the soul like hearing it on the pipes.I confess that it doesn't always affect me like it used to because of how often it is played, but every once in a while ... when the situation is right ... it does.

Dunshire Bagpipe Forum 1/26/07

Memorization Technique (my comments on memorizing tunes)

I play through the tune until I can sing it or I'll get a recording like Hunter does. Once I know what the tune should sound like and I can sing through the melody I can put the sheet music away and work on the tune without it. I only refer to the sheet music after that for fine tuning of timing and embellishments. If I start to rush a certain part, then I'll read it off the sheet music as I play - that seems to help me get the timing down better.

Dunshire Bagpipe Forum 11/29.06

Playing tunes above your grade. (my comments on playing for my son's solos)

I say give it a shot. I'm in a little different situation, but the intimidation factor was the same.My son is a grade IV drummer and I'm a grade IV piper. He's 11 years old and I'm 48 years old. He is a much better drummer than I am a piper, but his instructor encouraged me to pipe for him in his competitions. Now I don't mind if I screw up my own competition because I can deal with my own mistakes. I was petrified of messing up my son's competition. I got on these forums in the drumming topics and voiced my concerns. I especially wanted to know how my performance might effect his. I was told that my son should find the best piper possible to play with him, but that we had an advantage in being able to practice together. I was also told that judges would be paying more attention to the drummer than the mistakes of the piper and that as long as the piper kept the tempo it shouldn't effect the score.I also had a discussion with my son and expressed my concerns to him. He didn't really care about winning anything, he just wanted me to play for him.I went ahead and played for my son in his four competitions this year. He placed 2nd, 3rd and 4th in three of the competitions. All of his competitions had at least five competitors and the one he placed fourth in had twelve. I played fairly well in all but one of the competitions and the one I messed up on I was still able to keep the tempo up and he placed 2nd. Interestingly enough, he placed over many drummers who had much better pipers playing for them.He likes having me play for him and I enjoy it as well. To me that is the most important. Of course, our goal was to have fun and not necessarily to win anything. If your goal is to win then you'll have enough pressure trying to prepare your own solos.

Dunshire Bagpipe Forum 11/1/06

What did you play this season? (my comments about the tunes I played in competition my first year)

I'm a grade IV piper - first year of competition. I played "Major Norman Or Ewing" for my 2/4 March, "Loch Rannoch" for my Slow March, "Donald MacLean of Lewis" for my 6/8 March and in Alberta I played "Keel Row" (twice through) and "High Road to Linton" for my Strathspey/Reel.I only competed once with the Strathspey/Reel and didn't really have it down well enough to do a good job. The other three I did well with. The 6/8 was a little harder tune - in fact I got a comment from a judge that it was "an ambitious tune choice for this grade", but I like the tune and will continue to improve it and use it in grade IV. The other two are appropriate tunes for the grade and weren't too hard to learn. I'll use the three march tunes again next year and see how it goes. If I compete again in Strathspey/Reel I'll use something else.

Note: In my second year I changed my slow march to Lochaber No More.

Dunshire Bagpipe Forum 11/1/06

My First Competition! (my comments on my first year of competition)

I like what Back said as well. This was my first year competing. I didn't get a chance to compete on the PC, so it was straight to the pipes.To add to my anxiety, I was also playing for my son's snare drum solo I was so nervous I could barely play a week before the competition. I finally decided I needed to get some prespective of this or I would totally bomb. I sat back and thought about how far I had come and told myself that this was my first competition and that all I had to do was try my best; nerves and all. I wasn't competing for first place, I was competing for improvement, and this performance would set a baseline for me to build on. Once that sunk in, I was a lot more relaxed.I have played in four games this year and with the exception of one really bad performance (which was still a good learning experience) I have done well. I even got a first place in Grade IV 2/4 march at the Canmore games in Canada.As far as the 8 year olds go, I don't even worry about them. I'm the person I'm competing with and no one else. A good judge will point out your weaknesses and your strengths. The only thing on your score sheet that compares you to anyone else is how you placed.It was also helpful to read through Andrew's score sheets on his website and get an idea of what to expect.

Dunshire Bagpipe Forum 10/23/06

Friends and family (my comments of having friends and family at competitions)

This was the first year my youngest son and I have competed. He is a drummer (11 years old) and I'm a piper (48 years old). I play for his solos and we've really had a great time.At our first games, I had my wife and my other kids there as well as some extended family. They have all heard me play before, so I wasn't really anymore nervous than I would have been just playing for the judge. There was also a contingent of band members from our band watching, and that probably made me more nervous than my family.In September we were in Canada and competed in Calgary and Canmore. My parents live in Calgary and attended. I loved having them there and I think they really enjoyed the experience - it was their first games.Like Curt said, "Have fun and let your friends and family have fun with you."

Dunshire Bagpipe Forum 10/23/06

Canmore Highland Games (my "modest" comments about these games)

My son and I came up from Utah for those games. My folks live in Calgary and since this is the first year my son and I have competed (he's a drummer - 11 years old; and I'm a piper - 48 years old) I wanted them to be able to watch us. My son placed 4th in the 2/4 Grade IV in Calgary and I got a 1st in the 2/4 and 6th in the 6/8 Grade IV in Canmore. We had a great time!

Dunshire Bagpipe Forum 8/25/06

Adult Piper success story. (my comments about older vs younger pipers)

I have to chime in on the "negative older piper" discussion. I started at 44 (I'm now 47). I agree with Linz, I was very optomistic about starting to learn the pipes, but man did I ever run into an "attitude" about starting when I did. Now that I'm playing in a band and competing, the attitude isn't as negative but I think it is still there. Hey, I've only been playing for three years ... give me a break!! I'm keeping up with most of the younger players who have the same experience I do. Maybe they don't work as hard as I do to get the same results, but perhaps that's the advantage of being older. So on balance, us "negative" older players CAN keep up with the "lazy" younger players.

Note: I've since changed my tune a bit. Younger players can put it together a lot easier than us older guys.

Dunshire Bagpipe Forum 8/25/06

Display of Medals (my comments about displaying medals awarded in competition)

I'm a novice piper at 47 years old and this is my first year competing. My first competition was nerve racking. I placed 5th out of 13 in both solos and was very happy with my performance. In my second competition I placed 3rd and 5th out of 9. I didn't wear my 3rd place medal for the band competition, but you can bet I wore that thing everywhere else. Perhaps when I am winning so many medals like some of the hard core veterans (and that won't be anytime soon) I'll be modest enough to hide them away, but until that happens I'll proudly (not arrogantly) wear any I'm fortunate enough to win at the event when I'm not competing. Sure it's an extrensic reward, but I can't help it if I'm a bit juvenile ... would a mature adult use one of these in a post?

Dunshire Bagpipe Forum 8/18/06

Electronic Chanters (my comments about this topic)

I own a fagerstrom technochanter and have to agree with the positive remarks made here about them. I've had mine about 6 months now and take it EVERYWHERE. I can play it privately with my earbuds or through the speakers of my mp3 player. I have also plugged it into the CD adapter to my truck's am/fm cassette radio and played it through my truck's stereo (much to the delight - TIC - of the other passengers).I also sneak in a tune or two before I drop off to sleep next to my wife at night. I still practice on my PC and pipes, but my fingering has improved a lot with this practice tool because I can pull it out just about any time and anywhere. I love it! My instructor discouraged me from getting one because his hands were always too dry to get good contact. That hasn't been a problem with me at all and I have dry skin and live in a very VERY dry climate. The only problem I had was my pinky, but a bit of lotion takes care of that. I found that the move from EC to pipes was about the same as going from PC to pipes.I read a lot about the fagerstrom in these forums before I finally bought one and I haven't regreted the purchase at all.

Dunshire Bagpipe Forum 8/4/06

Motivation (my comments about staying motivated to play)

I'm in a slump myself right now. I play my PC a lot, but I haven't been on the pipes as much as I need to. I've been here before and several things have motivated me out of it. Most have already been mentioned:
1) Attend a pipe and drum concert - When I hear a concert of our local bands I say to myself "I can play like that" and I have to go home and prove it.
2) Listen to some good soloists on CDs - I love to hear the pipes played well. It makes me want to do better.
3) Join a band - There's pressure there to keep up the practice. Don't want to let the group down.
4) Just say to yourself that you're only going to play one tune. Sometimes for me it is just a matter of getting the pipes out and I'm off and running again.
5) Play a tune in the park - there's nothing like an audience to get you back into it.
6) Register for solo competitions or to play for a dummer - I've got a couple coming up and that's all the motivation I need.
Whatever you do, don't let it go completely. Stay on the PC and you'll find your motivation.

Dunshire Bagpipe Forum 7/20/06

Recording Music and Music Violation (my further comments about this topic)

I was asked to record an intro to a song for a local rock band. They just wanted a simple slow air. I thought about making one up, but I came across a very good one that fit the bill and decided I didn't need to reinvent the wheel.About two weeks before the recording date it suddenly dawned on me that there may be a problem with using this tune as it was still under copyright. I got the composer's email address after some inquiries and shot him off an email requesting permission to use the tune. I explained exactly what it was being used for and what the expected revenues were from the CD (not much as this was a garage band). About a week before the recording I received permission to use the tune free of charge. I then felt I should tell the band that if by some freak chance their song turned into a hit there would be a moral obligation to pay the composer something even though we had his permission to use it. They agreed.I discovered that the peace of mind is well worth the effort (what little there was) and it was my impression that this composer was more than willing to allow the use of his tunes as long as he was given the courtesy of being notified and given proper credit.

Dunshire Bagpipe Forum 5/5/06

My wife must love me. Don't know why! (my comments about practicing around the family)

Doing scales and exercises on the chanter would drive my whole family crazy. When I started learning tunes, things settled down a bit. Then I went to the pipes and I could evacuate everyone from our home in about 30 seconds. Once I started to squeeze some tunes out, again things settled down - oh, I bought musician's ear plugs for the gang as well.I was still heavily restricted on practice times, but I was tolerated. My youngest son (11) started on the snare drum about 2 years ago, and so this added to the din in our home (for some reason he was tolerated better than me). Now my wife has started drumming (I think she was finally reached the conclusion that if you can't beat them, join them) and suddenly, I'm able to practice whenever I want. In fact, my wife comes to my defense now when the kids complain about it.

Dunshire Bagpipe Forum 5/2/06

What a great feeling! (my comments on this topic)

Since the weather warmed up I've started to practice at a park near our home. I've had an audience of kids from time to time (they seem less inhibited than the adults) and I see people looking and listening from a distance.Last night a lady came over when I was packing up and told me that she was from Australia where she grew up next door to lot where a pipe band practiced. She loved the sound of pipes and was happy to learn that I play there fairly regularly.I also play in a vacant lot across from my office from time to time and get compliments from fellow employees. I point out to them that these are practice sessions and not performances, so I'm making (and hopefully correcting) a lot of mistakes, but they don't seem to care or notice.

Dunshire Bagpipe Forum 5/2/06 - 5/3/06

Piper's effect on solo drummer in competition? (my thread about playing for my son's solo competition)

How much attention does/should the judge pay to the piper in a solo snare drum competition?My 11 year old son will be competing for the first time this year as a solo snare drummer. I'll be competing for the first time as a piper. His instructor has strongly suggested that I play for him and I have reluctantly agreed - I'll be doing the same 2/4 for him that I'll be doing for my solo. I feel pretty comfortable with it, but I'd hate to make a mistake and screw it up for him. He's a better drummer than I am a piper.I watched a grade I competition and the piper's chanter reed froze up a couple of times (minor disaster). The drummer kept going and so did the piper, but he didn't win. There were two competitors, and both were very good so I couldn't really tell if it was the piper that cost him the win or his performance.


Originally posted by Bruce:As a solo drummer you get the most accomplished piper you can lay your hands on.

Follow up:

Does your comment mean you are worried about how the piper will effect your performance or how it will effect the judge's score?As a judge, what are you looking for in the performance between piper and drummer? If the piper crushes an embellishment, or worse - chokes up for a measure or cuts out completely, but the drummer plays the best score of his life, will his score suffer even though he came through?What about the other way around? The drummer does a mediocre job, but the piper plays fantastic. Can the piper's good playing effect the score the other way?


Originally posted by Bruce:A number of things the piper does can impact the drummer. If their meter is off, where they tend to rush through easy parts and slow down during difficult parts. A piper may forget a part or repeating a part. No the judge isn't judging the piper, but a nervous or inexperienced piper can really hurt the drummer's performance. That's why I go with experienced pipers. If something goes haywire with a reed, they are able to play through without a second thought. But again, that's just my opinion. I certainly wouldn't complain if Terry Lee offered to play for my solo.


I appreciate the input. I would have liked my son to use a more experience piper as well, but he feels more comfortable with me at his age and so we'll just do our best. I'm glad I asked the question though because it sounds like I need to make sure I maintain an appropriate meter more than anything else. His instructor wants us to play at 70-75 bpm which means I've got to play a bit faster than I have been, but I can adjust.

Note: Bruce happened to be the judge that wound up judging my son's first solo competition which I played for him. Bruce made a comment on the score sheet about my piping and was complimentary. My son placed 3rd in the competition.

Dunshire Bagpipe Forum 3/17/06

Spouses and practicing at home. (my comments about this topic)

I printed off the poll to show to my wife. She has told me that she doubts other wives put up with the "noise" (can't believe she said that!), but from the poll it looks like most do. Interestingly, she is a huge promoter of me performing on the pipes. I think she likes the attention.That said, I have a son on the snare drum. She pushes him to practice constantly. In fact, she has started learning to play the drums as well.I've ordered a Fagerstrom chanter cause there are still plenty of other benefits to being married.

Dunshire Bagpipe Forum 2/23/06

Lessons for 12-year-old in Dallas

I can't give you any recommendations on an instructor in Texas, but I can give you some encouragement in getting your son started.I started learning to play the bagpipes about 2 1/2 years ago (I'm 48 now). I have five kids, and the youngest is what we have referred to as our bonus baby - he's eight years younger than the next oldest sibling. Our older kids have all grown and moved out which left us with our 10 year old son still at home. Needless to say, he and I do a lot together and he expressed an interest in drumming about 1 1/2 years ago, so I signed him up. He and I have lessons the same night at the same time in the same location.His instructor was a little reluctant to take on a nine year old, but he has done extremely well and his instructor has really taken to him.He and I have performed together at two recitals and he has gotten a lot of compliments. He has quickly surpassed me and will be performing with the grade IV band in concert next month. We have had so much fun together that my wife and oldest daughter have become jealous. My wife started on the drums two months ago and my daughter started pipe lessons a month ago.It's one of the most rewarding things I've done with any of my kids.

Dunshire Bagpipe Forum 2/23/06

Some general frustrations of an adult learner - a rant (my comments about being an adult learner)

I started learning the bagpipes about 2 1/2 years ago. I'm now 48. I have an instructor and, being highly motivated, I zipped through the PC part of my training fairly quickly. I thought,"hmmm...I'm pretty good!" I had a few tunes down and then my instructor started me on an old leaky bag with a reed made out of a 2x4. I almost quit!

I spent the next 5 months in a knock down, drag out struggle with that @#$%@ bag to try and get a whole tune out. Then a break through - my instructor gave me an easier reed and WOW I could actually play something. I instantly felt better. Adding drones wasn't a big deal, and then I bought my own set of pipes and again a HUGE difference. I was beginning to feel all high and mighty again!

My instructor said I was ready to start coming out to band practice (grade IV). He gave me a harder reed that the band was using. I struggled again, but this time with a better bag I was at least able to play. I went to band practice. I couldn't keep up - I stood there with my bag full, the drones going and not a peep from my chanter. Tunes I'd been playing at 60 bpm were being played at 80-90 bpm. The band was half way through the tune before I finished the first measure. I walked out of there very discouraged.

I have a 10 year old son (the youngest of our 5 children) who is learning the scottish snare drum. He started about a year and a half ago. He will be playing with the band in their upcoming annual concert. He has done very well and progressed quickly, but he has gone through the same ups and downs that I have. Yes, because of his age, his plateaus have been much shorter than mine, but I think everyone goes through these things.

I have certain goals in mind for my piping. I want to play at the grave side of my grandparents on Memorial Day. I want to play and march in a parade. I want to be a grade II piper. The first goal I reached last year - a great sense of accomplishment and personal satisfaction. The second goal won't take me too much longer, but I am having to work harder than I thought to get to a level where I can keep up with the band. The third goal is a long way off, but I plan on starting to compete this summer in grade IV. My goals keep me from letting the discouragement force me to give up. When I look back at the times I felt most discouraged progress was just around the corner.

Dunshire Bagpipe Forum 2/11/06 - 2/14/06

Public Domain question. (my post regarding permission to use a tune on a recording for a band)

I've been asked to do an intro to a song being recorded by a local band for their first CD. I think "Farewell to Camraw" works well. The sheet music I have for this shows R. Mathieson as the composer of this tune. I've noticed it has been recorded by quite a few bands, and is used quite extensively in the repetoir of numerous bands. I'm not up to speed on what is considered public domain, how tunes that are not public domain can be used and how to go about getting permission for tunes that require it. I want to do the right thing here.

Follow up post:

I may have given the impression that this is a pipe band recording a CD - it isn't, it's a rock band. They have scraped together enough money to record a CD on their own. They don't have a recording contract with a label. The song is an instrumental composition and is, as I understand it, dedicated to the writer's uncle who passed away. The tune adds a lot of dignity to the composition.

Note: I did follow up with the composer of the tune and got permission to record it.

Dunshire Bagpipe Forum 2/1/06

At what point can one call himself a piper? (my response to a rather heated discussion about what a piper is)

I'm glad to see some "pipers" have seen the humor in this discussion. Others need to loosen up their collars a bit and quit worrying about who's a piper and who isn't. It does feel nice to get compliments, but I'm not waiting for some magical moment when I suddenly change from "piper wanna be" to "piper".

I think I'll just have fun learning and improving and calling myself a piper while I wait for my official "piper" certification.

Dunshire Bagpipe Forum 11/1/05

Practice Chanter Reed (my comments about making my own practice chanter reed)

Made my own based on Gibson - very easy and sounds great. My instructor was surprised.
Materials: yogurt container
aluminum tubing (from hobby shop)
crazy glue
dental floss (waxed)
teflon tape
Had to do a lot of sanding to get all notes in tune, but very happy with the results.

Dunshire Bagpipe Forum 10/7/05

Neighbors and the Police (my comments about playing outside in the neighborhood)

My neighbors have been very good, but I usually practice indoors. A few weeks ago our local church congregation had a talent night. I played a few tunes and got some very nice compliments. A few of my neighbors were there. One of them came up to me after and told me that she was surprised at how good I've gotten since the first of the summer when I was practicing more outside(this is my first year on the pipes). She said she really enjoyed my performance. Another neighbor said she wanted me to play at her funeral although I'm not certain that was a compliment since I'm older than she is.

Dunshire Bagpipe Forum 10/7/05

Student plays at funeral anyway. (My comments on another thread about beginners playing in public)

I'm an adult student who has been on the pipes a little over a year. I'm having a blast! My first goal was to play the pipes on Memorial Day at my father-in-law's graveside. I worked to get AG down in the few months I'd been playing at that point in time. Yup, there were other people in the area listening - couldn't help that. I felt good about it, my family felt good about it and in fact, I got a lot of compliments and requests from people who heard me to play again - which I did.Last month my son got married. They had a reception out of State (his wife's hometown) and another in our State a week later. They asked me to play just before they cut the cake at both events. I did. Again, lots of compliments - even a few people (kids and adults) asking about who to contact for lessons.Finally, our church congregation had a talent night. I played several tunes. I got a compliment from a neighbor of mine who's a music teacher. She said, "That was a performance with class. Thank you." She is not the type of person to compliment if she doesn't mean it.I'm still learning a few tricks and tips about tuning properly, my embelishments are not perfect but I'm not so bad I scare people.I have told my instructor about each performance before hand, and he helped me decide which tunes would be appropriate and gave me a pointer or two. Maybe you should encourage your student to find another instructor.

Dunshire Bagpipe Forum 9/14/05

Lessons ... yes or no? (I was paying a lot for lessons and wasn't happy with what I was getting)

I have been taking lessons going on two years now and have been on the pipes a little over a year. When I started there was no question in my mind as to the need for taking lessons. They were worth the cost to learn this wonderful instrument. I have made fairly good progress, but for the past several months I don't feel like I have learned a whole lot during my lessons. My instructor has spent no time teaching me about tuning or the care of my instrument. I have learned most of that from these forums. I have learned several tunes on my own, and have even done my own arrangement of a religious tune and no one has run away when I have played it for an audience (very informal performance). I make my own PC reeds (which surprised and impressed my instructor) and I recently had my first formal performance at my son's wedding - it went very well.Of course, I'm a long way from being the piper I would like to be, but maybe it is just time and practice.The cost of lessons just increased by 20% this year, and I am beginning to feel like I could get just as much out of joining a band (motivation to keep practicing) and taking the money I save on lessons to attend one of the excellent summer schools offered either here or abroad. In looking over the curriculm of some of these programs, I think I might learn more in a week of a summer program than I'd learn in forty five 1/2 lessons a year.Any thoughts on when it is appropriate to quit taking lessons.

Note: I finally did quit lessons and have just been practicing with the band. I haven't regreted the decision and have been improving without paying so much. I would still like lessons from time to time, but I have found a way to do that online.

Dunshire Bagpipe Forum 5/6/05

Why did you wait to get started? (the first thread I started)

What a great forum! I have wanted to play the GHPs since I was in third grade (I’m now 47). I grew up in Calgary, AB and had a good friend who started learning when we were kids – I’ve since lost touch with him. I thought they were cool and wanted to learn, but alas, my folks felt that the piano was the instrument for me, and I hated it. I guess that soured my taste for learning a musical instrument enough that I never considered the pipes for … well … several decades.The sound of the pipes has always stirred something in me and my favorite part of any parade has always been the pipe bands. I also own a fairly good collection of Pipe CDs.I now live in Utah, and several years ago my parents – knowing how much I loved pipe music – invited my wife and I to attend a Pipe Band performance with them in a local park. I loved it! I couldn’t stand just sitting there listening – I wanted to participate! After the performance I went up and spoke to PM about taking lessons and by the end of the conversation was pretty convinced that learning to play, for me at least, was too late. It was too expensive, too time consuming and too difficult for an adult with a family. (I should have asked someone else) Well, kids grow up and leave home and surprise, surprise, there is more money and more time when they aren’t eating you out of house and home. My wife and I heard about the Utah Scottish Festival and decided to go. Wow :wow: So now I’m a pipe student of about 18 months and have just purchased my first set of GHPs. I’m realistic about my capabilities, and while I do have certain goals, I mostly play for myself and to annoy a few of my neighbors (although most of them like my playing). I wish I'd have started earlier, but hey - I'm havin' fun!!

Dunshire Bagpipe Forum 4/6/05

Qualities of good bagpipes (I was looking at purchasing my first set)

Certainly sound and tone of the drones and chanter are important, but they appear to be very subjective qualities in a set of pipes. Opinions are many and varied.I would like to know what the more objective qualities are of a well made set of pipes. I read an excellent article from "The Bagpipe Place" website on "What you need to know" when buying pipes, but I have since heard that some of their recommendations are just bells and whistles.For example, they recommended threaded mounts and ferrules, and tuning pins with a hemp-stop. Are these really signs of well made pipes or just flash? What other things would you look for in materials and workmanship? What are the little extras that show craftsmanship and quality?

Why the Blog.

I decided to put up this blog simply for the purpose of having a place to put stuff that is piping related from time to time and to also document my personal bagpipe story.

A lot of these blogs will be posts that I made on a couple of bagpipe forums. In particular Bob Dunshire's Bagpipe Forum and the Pipe Band Forum.

Blog posts