Keydet Piper I'm thinking bagpipes

Monthly Archives: September 2010

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Piping quote of the day

Or actually the quote of yesterday, since that’s when it was posted. A beginning piper posted a thread in the Piobaireachd topic of the Bob Dunsire forums in which she asked “What is piobaireachd?”

The best response is below. I love it.

And how true. When I learned my first piobaireachd (Clan Campbell’s Gathering) I actually felt like I could call myself a piper. It’s like a rite of passage, and it does help pipers become better players. Perfect response, Roger!

In which the Keydet Piper blog becomes syndicated

I’ve recently been in communication with Andrew Douglas, the pipe major of Oran Mor Pipe Band, the sensei at The Piper’s DoJo, and the author of The Piper’s DoJo Blog.

I’m happy to announce that he’s requested that I contribute to the Piper’s Dojo blog on occasion, which I’m happy to do. At his request, I’ll start with the post I wrote a while back about the EUSPBA’s proposed rule change regarding full piobaireachd in grade 4 solo competitions.

I’m excited to be invited to contribute to another piping blog, especially that of player as accomplished as Andrew. I’ll continue to post here, and will post some of my material on his site as well. Be sure to subscribe to his blog to get his updates as well.

Tiny steps forward

“How do you get to Carnegie Hall?”

“Practice, practice, practice.”

The idea of practice is pretty well accepted in our minds as the way to get better at anything, and to stay better at it. Practice never ends either, as even those at the top of their field put in many hours to stay there. If you don’t believe me, ask one of them. Whether it’s learning new skills or tunes or drilling the fundamentals, they all do it.

As essential as it is, practice is frustrating. It seems that once you reach a certain level of proficiency, your progress is less noticeable. In the beginning you find you pick it up pretty quickly and are encouraged by this progress, but after a while the learning levels out and it takes much more work to move up the ladder. This graph shows it pretty nicely: a steep curve at the beginning, where a modest amount of time leads to significant improvement, which then levels out as time goes on. Once you get past that inflection point, your proficiency level is much closer to level, and requires significantly more time and work to attain it.

I sometimes find myself wondering if I am really a better piper than I was one or two or five years ago. My head tells me that I have to be, but my ear doesn’t really believe it, and it’s because I’m always around my playing. Like the growth of a child, the progress is in such small increments that one who is around it frequently doesn’t seem to notice the changes, but when an outside observer sees the child or hears the music after several months, the differences are as plain as day.

So if you’ve stopped seeing progress, it doesn’t mean it isn’t there. It’s just too small to see, but it’s there. Keep working hard and taking those tiny steps forward. If you don’t believe me, record yourself playing and go back to it after you’ve been practicing for six months. You’ll find that child has grown a few inches, and looks more like an adult.

Random piping video

You may have noticed an upswing of posts over the past few weeks, and that has tailed off now that classes have started. I have some ideas for some posts that I’d like to write up when I have a chance, but for now here’s a video to hold you over.

The is the Peel Regional Police’s medley performance from the North American Pipe Band Championships at Maxville, Ontario in August of this year. This was the same medley they used last year, and the first time I heard it I thought it was fantastic. I still think so, and still very much enjoy listening to it. This performance earned them 1st place in this event, which combined with their 1st place in the MSR competition won them the championship.

What a great medley. It’s probably time for them to rotate it out since they’ve been playing it for two years, but I will miss it.

A new link in the blogroll: School of Piping Blog

I’ve been following a blog for a few months now, and finally decided it’s a good to add to my bagpipes blogroll. Allow me to introduce the Brett Tidswell and the School of Piping Blog.

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Well, what did you think was going to happen?

Prepare to smack yourself in the forehead: go read this, then come back.

Done?

Good.

I’m only concerned with the first half of the article, namely the woman who lodged this complaint:

“…the event was too noisy, there were too many people playing bagpipes and the park was far too busy.”

Um, hello? Read More