Wednesday, July 23, 2008

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.

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