I find that a lot of my students have had a tough time with blowing and squeezing. I teach a lot of older students. They work very hard to get to the point where they have pipes and get totally frustrated with blowing, squeezing and playing the chanter all at the same time.
Recently, prompted by frustration on the part of both one particular student and myself, I removed the chanter from his pipes and replaced it with a rubber plug. He blew up his pipes, I tuned his drones and had him blow and squeeze for a couple of minutes. Then something hit me. I wonder if he could write a letter while blowing and squeezing. I took out a piece of paper and a pen and sat him down at my desk and told him to write a letter to someone. At that point, we had a transformational moment.
He realized when he completed the letter what blowing and squeezing on the Great Highland Bagpipe was truly about. Our instrument is one of few in the world where the breath has absolutely nothing to do with the music. It’s almost like rubbing your belly and patting your head at the same time.
If blowing and squeezing is a problem for you, you should go back and read my first article called “blowing and squeezing” to make sure that you are doing it right and then apply this technique or any other activity that you can do with one hand while blowing and squeezing. Just keep it clean!