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
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
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
Could YOU improve the positioning of your fingers on a pipe chanter? This article is for you to think about. It suggests some things that may not suit some people, but I believe it will be helpful to many. Over the last several years, I have come across a number of experienced pipers who … Continue reading Correct finger positioning on a chanter
Why does one piper sound dull and boring while another sounds so interesting and musical? As pipers (and drummers) we are taught techniques of playing bagpipe music. “Hold that low A”. “Your tune needs some more phrasing”. “That note’s a dotted quaver”. These are good things to think about when you’re learning how a tune … Continue reading Dare to play with expression
How Brett Tidswell tuned his drones on-stage for a hornpipe and jig contest.
Today I had a critique sheet I had written fed back to me from nearly two years ago. I remembered the particular performance, because it involved an uncharacteristic “train wreck” on the part of the performing band in their final tune. It reminded me that people often don’t realise that judging is a skill of … Continue reading Great piper ≠ great teacher ≠ great judge ≠ great Pipe Major