Recently I had the pleasure of speaking to a pipe band colleague who has been involved with the same pipe band for the last 30 some years. I asked him how his band was doing and he told me that they were burning out. He said that attendance and membership were down. He also said that people were tired of playing the same tunes that they had been playing for 30 years. I asked him why they weren't learning new music. He told me that the process took too long and was too tedious.
If you read any of my blog posts, you’ll know that I am an advocate for rhythm training. As a classically trained musician who also plays the bagpipes, I teach rhythm. The Great Highland Bagpipe is a folk instrument that in most cases is taught like a folk instrument - by rote and imitation. The problem with that is that individual players who don’t read rhythm are unable to learn music on their own. The solution is simple: teach everyone to read rhythm. The priniciples are simple and can be taught in less than an hour.
My job is to teach my students how to practice this week and every week. If you learned the principles of rhythm and added them to your practicing, you could learn to be a good sight reader. If you are a good sight reader and can read any bagpipe music, neither you nor your band would suffer from tune burnout and boredom.
I have been playing this instrument for more than 40 years. I never became bored with it as the only thing I needed to do was to learn the next tune. A bagpiper is a person that can play a list of tunes on the bagpipe. How long is your list? How long is your band’s list?
I have free videos on You Tube to teach you these principles. Sometimes it takes more than that to get someone going. What if your band was capable of learning a new tune every week? What if they were capable of learning any tune regardless of the meter? Would it be worth getting help?
New tunes could pump new life into a dying organization. It could be the best investment your band will ever make. Let me know if I can help you and your band.
Gary Guth is a professional bagpiper with over 45 years of playing experience and has been teaching bagpipes full time for the last 20 years. He has written "Bagpipes For Beginners", "the Bagpipe Hymnal", and " A Piper's Christmas".