Saturday, August 2, 2008

Pipe Band Forums 12-10-07

Small Pipes

I have some Walsh small pipes (see Rogues Gallery - playing for my grand daughters). I do play it with the drones in occasionally, but for the most part I use them as a practice goose with a stopper in the drone stock.

I use it as an intermediary step as well, but you can't go away from practicing with the GHB pipes. I learned from sad experience that it is not a replacement for the big pipes.

I went away from practicing with the big pipes because the small pipes are much more family friendly when playing indoors. I practiced a lot, but when I went back to playing the big pipes (after a couple of weeks) I had a tough time blowing steady and my stamina had dropped a bit.

Small pipes are great for working out the fingering on tricky pieces and practicing sets repeatedly, but if you ignore the big brother he won't cooperate with you when you go back to him.

Of course, let's not forget that the small pipes are an instrument in and of themselves and are fun to perform with; they are not just a practice tool for the GHB.


... I wouldn't say that they improve your piping though. ... The harmonics of them can make it sound like you're playing well, but in actual fact you aren't, and if you played the same on the Highland Pipes you'd be caught out!
I'm not sure I agree 100% with the above quote. I agree that trying to use the small pipes as an exclusive means of practicing for the GHB is foolish, but I don't agree that using the small pipes won't improve your piping. There are a lot of ways using small pipes can improve your piping just as chanter practice and electronic chanters can help. There are certainly limitations, but they do help.

I also don't agree with the idea that the harmonics cover poor playing. The same could be said of the GHB, but once you know how they are supposed to sound and hear them in the hands of a musician, you can certainly tell the difference in either instrument.

I think that because the small pipes require less effort to play, you can probably play tunes more easily on them than the GHB just as learning tunes is easier on the PC, but I think poor playing comes out in both.

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