I have observed over many years that the simple art of playing 6_8 marches has all but disappeared in the pipe band and solo piping world. I take great joy in immersing myself in the fantastic music buzz of playing a 6_8 march with the proper swing. This article tells about my approach to the … Continue reading Putting the swing back into 6_8 Marches
Learning any skill generally involves transferring knowledge and capability from someone else to you. This can be direct as in tuition, mentoring or coaching, or it can be indirect as in reading books or articles or watching what others do. However you learn, it is wise not just to accept what you see or hear … Continue reading Does what you’re doing make sense?
Or "Observations of a solo adjudicator after the combined R U Brown solo piping contest and Australian Solo Championships 2019" This article offers some thoughts about HOW to go about competing in solo contests for those inexperienced in doing so. Perhaps it will also generate some ongoing online discussion and hopefully encourage more pipers to … Continue reading Everything you always wanted to know about playing in solo bagpipe contests
I have been teaching bagpipes face to face and using Skype for several years, with a number of successes. The Skype approach is a compromise compared with face to face tuition, but has proven to be a very good one for many situations. This article discusses using Skype, or other similar internet based tools, for … Continue reading Is Skype too great a compromise for bagpipe lessons?
Understanding these two piping/drumming terms can provide some wonderful new ways to present and enjoy your music. I often comment on how sad I am that many piping/pipe band musicians don’t get to experience good 6_8 playing; the wonderful feeling of playing with swing. So, if swing is such a good thing, what is it … Continue reading The difference between swing and lift and why it matters
I’ve heard it said many times that “I’m too old to learn to play bagpipes” or “I’m past improving my playing”. I do not accept the validity of these two, or other similar, statements. I believe that age is not the barrier to beginning or improving that we allow ourselves to believe. I base this … Continue reading When are you too old to learn or improve?
Many people have said that the practice chanter and the pipes are different instruments; just because you are a “legend” on your practice chanter doesn’t mean you will be brilliant with a set of pipes on your shoulder. So, what’s behind this, why does it matter and what can be done about it? I recently … Continue reading Legends with practice chanters
As a musical community, we are particularly poor at teaching our musicians correct basic terminology, let alone correct playing technique. I often discuss phrasing and expression with pipers and drummers, sometimes on contest critique sheets. And, yet, I am now clear that many of our musicians, and perhaps even some of our adjudicators, may not … Continue reading Expression and phrasing are not the same thing
I have been spending a lot of time with pupils lately helping them improve the precision of their playing. A number have been producing generally “muddy” sounding music – imprecise movements from one note to the next, inaccurate timing, uneven sound due to irregular blowing and other issues. A number of them are improving these … Continue reading The First Half of Improvement
Good strong simple time (2_4, 3_4 or 4_4) March rhythm does not only depend on proper emphasis of the metrical accents (the ones on the beats), but also on correct timing of the “up-beats” i.e. the pulses halfway between the beats. I have heard many performances where a band’s rhythm becomes “muddy” or unclear, because … Continue reading The All Important Up-beat