Tuesday, July 29, 2008

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.

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