The Tune Pyramid

  In addition to being musical, playing the bagpipe is all about precision. There’s no denying that our instrument is very loud. Because of that, it not only needs to be tuned to precision, but it needs to be played to precision. In most cases, we memorize all...

The Truth About Gigging

Are you ready to “gig”?  I mean, are you really READY to gig? I have taught many students during these last few decades. A lot of those students have been intrigued by the thought of playing for money. I don’t discourage them, for sure, but I do want to make sure...

The Power of Hemp

Throughout the last month, I have found myself sitting on my studio floor on numerous occasions, re-hemping pipes for my students. I hope they were watching. The Great Highland Bagpipe is almost a living, breathing life form! It needs care to work properly. Often, my...

The Power of Belief

A while ago, I wrote an article called “Are You a Bagpiper or a Wannabe?”. At the time I wrote this piece, the main component of the article was focused on making the decision to “do it”. I had recently turned 55 and in doing that I realized that even...

15 Minutes Daily Is Just the Start!

I tell my students that they need to practice every day, even if it’s only for 15 minutes. The purpose of that statement is to simply get them to practice every day. As they become more experienced, they will have more to practice and the time will automatically...

The only thing perfect in life is an egg . . . .

In teaching people to play this great instrument, I deal with a lot of “perfectionists”. I used to be one myself, but it made my stomach hurt, messed up my digestion and gave me a headache. I decided a while back that I would do the best I could. I tell...

The Maintenance Kit

A good maintenance kit is essential to maintaining a set of bagpipes. Forty years ago when I started playing the pipes, we played it the same way they did for hundreds of years. We played elk-hide or sheepskin bags that were sealed with “seasoning” that usually...

The Blowing & Squeezing Pendulum

I seem to be working with a lot of people right now on “blowing and squeezing”. The Great Highland Bagpipe of Scotland is one of the few wind instruments in the world where “the breath” has nothing to do with the musical line. The job of the breath on our instrument...

The Affect of a Personal Project

One of my students came to his lesson feeling a little discouraged because he couldn’t yet keep up with my teaching CD. He was talking about bailing. The truth is that he is doing reasonably well on his bagpipe project. The problem, as I see it, is that people...