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TOPIC: Top tips for novices

Re: Top tips for novices 2 years 7 months ago #244

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DrBlow wrote:
I found also that one of the best decisions I made was to have a drone switch put on the pipes. With the drones off it was easy to listen to the tone quality of the chanter and realise how shockingly poor my pressure control was whenever I tried to play a tune.

Also it took a while for the penny to drop that these are NOT GHBs -
- different finger spacing )

Oh I hear you loud and clear on these! I'm 6 weeks into my first bellow pipe and yup that pressure control is a headache still.

I also decided to have a couple of keys fitted to my chanter to extend the top range, these have so far mostly served to hinder my high A doublings and manouvers to the point that I am back to running scales with high A doubling and buggering them up nicely in the process. Still with my pressure control as is they sound more like G sharp manouvers on a cats tail. Hey ho...
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Re: Top tips for novices 2 years 4 months ago #278

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There seems to be an ever increasing amount of online resources for would be pipers. Here's my latest find the excellent tutorial site of Pipe Major Bill Robertson
www.bagpipe-tutorials.com/index.html
yeah I know it's not border pipe or small pipe orientated and you won't hear a rubbish english hornpipe or medieval goat strangler any where on it. What you will get however is some fantastic practical online tuition, for free, by a piper who is obviously used to teaching and knows exactly what to emphasise when doing so. Bite size chunks of solid technique and some pretty reasonable tunes to add to the repetoire too.
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Re: Top tips for novices 1 year 3 weeks ago #518

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I'm now 20 months or so into my border pipes experience and there is barely a day that goes by without a neighbour wanting to throw something at me! I thought I'd resurrect this thread and add a few more thoughts aimed at those just starting out.

Get a lesson or two however you are able. Yep there are not many tutors around even in the UK let alone some of the more distant "borders" but even so. I was lucky to have had GHB tuition which has helped, the LBPS teaching weekend I went to was also very useful. I don't know how people manage without some tuition whether on Skype or in person. If you are a complete beginner I'd say you'll need the patience of a saint if you're going it alone with no previous musical training.

If you haven't got timing your technique needs improving! A simple observation really that when the going gets tough the tempo gets going and it will go any where it wants to. Keep playing away without addressing the root problem and all you'll be doing is reinforcing all that bad habit into your playing. We all love and aspire to playing those flash and fancy tunes but be honest. You're going to have to be some kind of prodigy to knock one off just a couple of years into playing pipes. Do the ground work first.

I struggled with my border pipes for a good year before I bit the bullet and did what I'd have done in an instant on my GHB, shut the reed down a little. For what ever the reason my chanter reed was using too much air, closing it down made all the difference and my piping came on a leap and a bound. I don't recommend this for a novice piper at all but to an experienced GHB player I definitely say don't be afraid of your reeds like I was. To a novice I'd say get in touch with your pipe maker if you think you have a reed problem or seek out an experienced player for advice.

When you are learning to tune your pipe try and find the best acoustic room in your place to do it or go outside. Its going to take practice and sound like a cat being strangled but you've just got to get on with it so help yourself by find a space to play where you can hear the harmonics. If you are a border piper with a small gaff you might find that attenuated ear plugs help. They cut down a lot of the excessive vibration that can mess your hearing and actually make it easier to hear the harmonics.

While we're on the subject of tuning get that Korg gizmo out of your box and chuck it as far away as you possibly can. Learn to tune the pipe to itself before worrying about being a few cents from concert pitch, especially while you're still pumping away at the damn thing like the vicar's dog on the verger's new suit. Learn to hear it not see it.

Develop some thick skin and always keep your eyes peeled for angry neighbours... :whistle:
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