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Monthly Archives: November 2010

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It’s the Monday Survey: Volume 9!

For the Monday Survey question this week, I’m going to change things up a bit and ask

What is your favorite piping video that you’ve found recently?

It doesn’t have to be your favorite necessarily, but something great you’ve found on YouTube or elsewhere around the interwebs. This is open to any kind of bagpipes, solo or band, performance or practice. Here’s mine:

This is a performance by Fred Morrison recorded a few years ago. Fred won gold medals at Oban and Inverness and is now known for branching out to the border pipes, which he is playing here. This video is a great example of his innovative arrangements, amazing fingers, and excellent hair, and it’s just good for a few minutes of foot stomping.

It’s the Monday Survey: Volume 8

I had some great responses on the Monday Survey question last week about the MLRPBA (My Living Room Pipe Band Association), so thanks for your input.

This week, I’ll move to the more practical side of things. The end of the piping season arrived a few weeks ago, and my competitions at least are done until April. When you get to the end of the season,

Do you have any end of the season routines?

Do you disassemble your pipes? Plan out new music? Think about next year’s schedule?

As always, leave your comments below. Thanks for participating!

How did you start on the pipes?

This is one of the questions most frequently asked of me, and it’s one that you don’t often hear asked of the top players.

I was informed of a website called Pipers’ Persuasion, which back in the early part of 2010 started sitting down with well known pipers for interviews.

I’ve embedded here the first video from the interview with Jim Wark, in which he answers the question of how he started on the pipes.

Jim is best known as a band piper, acting as pipe major of the Strathclyde Police for many years until he retired from the police force. He’s now a judge and a heck of a nice guy.

It’s the Monday Survey: Volume 7

I attended the annual meeting of the EUSPBA this weekend, and that’s gotten me thinking about the process involved with running a pipe band association. That inspired the question this week: Read More

Monday Survey Commentary

In last week’s Monday Survey question, I asked about those great advances in technology:

What bagpipe gadgets do you have that you cannot live without?


Read More

Yet another truism

A great quote that describes my thoughts on the EUSPBA AGM:

If you had to identify, in one word, the reason why the human race has not achieved, and never will achieve, its full potential, that word would be “meetings.”

From Dave Barry’s 16 Things It Took Me 50 Years To Learn.

EUSPBA AGM Approaches

Just a reminder that the Annual General Meeting of the Eastern United States Pipe Band Association takes place today. Follow live updates from the event on Facebook and Twitter (@keydetpiper).

2010 EUSPBA Annual General Meeting

I’ll be attending the Eastern United States Pipe Band Association annual general meeting in Baltimore this Saturday, November 13. I’ve been to the AGM in 2007 and 2009, and while I wouldn’t describe the time as the most thrilling way to spend the daylight hours of a Saturday, it is interesting to see how the organization runs, and to hear from the people who run it. Read More

It’s the Monday Survey: Volume 6

Last week I asked for your input regarding useless bagpipe gadgets, and this week I’ll turn it around a bit:

What bagpipe gadgets do you have that you cannot live without?

Read More

Monday Survey commentary

In the most recent Monday Survey question, I asked about bagpipe gadgets:

What products, devices, gadgets, or accessories have you seen that you think go too far?

There’s a ton of new bagpipe toys on the market these days, and as with any gadget-swamped market there’s bound to be a few that aren’t really necessary.

Personally, there are three gadgets that I think are a bit unnecessary:

  1. Bagpipe Harness. Seriously?
  2. Piper’s Third Hand. It takes more time to wrestle this doohickey on the chanter than it does to move your hand back to the chanter.
  3. Tone Enhancers. Also known as “Drone Quieteners.”

In general, I think that a good gadget is one that eliminates or reduces the need for some hassle or other, but doesn’t try to eliminate the need for some skill. In the comments section, Vince said basically the same thing: “I think the best gadgets are ones that enhance what a player is already doing.”

Vince went on to suggest that the bagpipe harness could be detrimental to beginning pipers, possibly interfering with the development of blowing skills. He also suggested that drone valves are more trouble than they’re worth, and from my limited experience with them I’d agree. It goes back to being able to control the instrument, and good stops and starts is something that every piper should be able to do.

Jeremy said that synthetic drone reeds and bags have really changed the game, and those drone valves actually increase the maintenance required to keep the pipes functioning.

Adam suggested that most of the gadgets are actually fairly useful, with his personal favorites being the synthetic drone reeds and electric tuners. He hadn’t heard of the bagpipe harness though and laughed when he saw it.

My favorite suggestion was from Dave, who had played with a pipe major who wanted to have single use chanter and reed combinations ready to play out of the bag, to be installed in the pipes just prior to stepping on to the competition field.

Thanks again for your comments. Watch for the next survey question, to be posted tomorrow morning.