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?
Everything you always wanted to know about playing in solo bagpipe contests
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
Is Skype too great a compromise for bagpipe lessons?
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?
The difference between swing and lift and why it matters
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
3 drone tuning processes
Time and time again I marvel at the novel and illogical processes pipers adopt for solo drone tuning, including in the highest solo grades. In many cases, they get their drones in tune more by luck than by design – or they fail to get their drones properly in tune. Here I present three different … Continue reading 3 drone tuning processes
When are you too old to learn or improve?
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?
Legends with practice chanters
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
Expression and phrasing are not the same thing
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
Tuning Devices That Deceive
I have seen electronic tuners used painstakingly to set bands' drones accurately OUT OF TUNE. So, are electronic tuners of any use? Let’s start with a clear answer: an electronic tuning device is a high value tool when setting up a pipe corps. BUT, you need to use it intelligently to achieve the result, a … Continue reading Tuning Devices That Deceive
The First Half of Improvement
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