I hear a lot of funny stories from my students about practicing. Here’s one of them.
One of the hardest parts of learning to play the pipes is getting the hand position “right”. The hands need to be flat and straight and slightly angled downward almost in a 45-degree angle. I had a new student who was working on his hand position. I told him to get a “make up” mirror that he could set on the table in front of him so that he could watch his hand position as he moved up and down the scale. One day, while practicing, he was sitting on his couch with the mirror placed on the coffee table in front of him. After a while of this, he got up and went out to do some errands. When he came back, he noticed that he had a burn line on his couch. He told me that behind the couch is a window. While he was away, the sun was shining through his window. It hit the mirror and reflected on the couch. Because the mirror was magnified, the sun burned the line in the couch with it’s movement in the sky. I don’t think that he was laughing at the time, however, when he told me the story, we both thought that it was funny.
That certainly shouldn’t discourage you from using a mirror. Seeing is still better than trying to imagine good position. We want to do everything we can to make the process easier and more efficient.
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".