Saturday, August 2, 2008

Pipe Band Forum 11-12-07

Online Lessons (my thoughts)

I quit taking private lessons because of the expense and I didn't really feel that the instructor was doing much to help me. I'd come in for a lesson and he'd say, "Okay, what do you want to play for me today?" I'd play and he'd say - you missed this, or didn't open that up, or you didn't keep the tempo here, blah blah blah. Then he'd say, "Now what do you want to play?" and it would be on to the next piece. There were no or very few suggestions for exercises to help with certain problems, just "you need to work on that". With the cost of lessons going up so much each year I finally called it quits.

I have been getting helpful tips at band practice, but I still felt I needed something else.

I had gotten several comments from judges on my slow march which were very similar. I obviously had a problem with the phrasing but my instructor wasn't much help. Three different judges made the comment that I needed to emphasis the "question/answer" feel. I didn't get it and my instructor couldn't explain it in a fashion I could understand.

I came across Jori Chisholm's site ( and decided to pay the $20 for a custom tune lesson - he didn't have the tune available in the ready made tune lessons he has on his site.

I contacted him by email and provided the sheet music I was using. I explained the problem and the judging comments. He was very responsive and created a custom lesson the same day. He did a great job explaining the phrasing problem I was having with the tune and got me on the right track to correcting it. It was like having the light turned on - I got it and the tune sounds so much better using his suggestions.

I discussed doing an online lesson with him before next season to go over my competition pieces and get his input. He was very willing and as far as I'm concerned, reasonable on his charges. My favorite thing about it is that I have access to a top piper whenever I need the assistance; it's awesome!

I'm all for online lessons.

Very good points regarding beginning pipers. I would have been totally lost without personal instruction. In fact, I'm not sure I'd have done very well in group lessons to start (that's just me).

Another benefit of face to face lessons is the encouragement a new piper can get when first getting on the pipes. This was the "baptism by fire" for me and was the low point in my piping. I was so discouraged I almost quit several times, but I had to go play in front of someone each week and so I kept trying until I could actually get music out of it.

I almost hate to say this because I know there are strong opinions regarding competition, but I would say that once you have reached the level where you are ready to compete - even if you don't compete - you could probably benefit from online lessons.

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