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Maeve
01-22-2002, 10:05 PM
I'm putting this one here since I am assuming that the Pipe Majors do most of the teaching of new students in a band (or at least supervise the teaching). I've picked up 5 new students this week ... some will be taught at my home (since band night is out of the question for them at the moment) but the majority will be at the band hall. Now ... one of the pipers (right hand person) told me that I should be teaching them only the BARE BONES of piping ... no embellishments, a few gracenotes, etc. and if I try to go deeper, I'll lose them as pipers for the band because technical piping will run them off, scare them away and be too discouraging.

Now I have some real feelings about this. I am a purist .. and believe that piping should be taught with not only ALL embellishments but having the embellishments played correctly. Yes, I do water down the band tunes so that they are easier to play. But I am not sure that I could live with myself if I were to teach in such a manner. I teach new students as if they were going to go into solo competition .... and I'm being asked not to do this for band potentials. I don't think it is worth sacrificing GOOD piping and technique for warm bodies in the band. So I guess you know what my question is, right?
Love and Light,
Maeve

AWPIPER
01-22-2002, 10:40 PM
Maeve,
Sounds like you got your hands full there.....One thing I know has worked with my students is to record any problem areas they are having....Correctly....so they can listen and practice the movements on there own at home.If the student practices on their own.....should be able to increase the tempo they play at with the movements properly done.
The student does not feel "Pushed" and is better for the instructor in the long run.Saves going over the same movements week after week with the same students,while neglecting others.They also have a sense of accomplishment and progress faster.

Just something I have found that works......For my students at least.

Cheers,
Mark :D

michael gunn
01-23-2002, 12:53 PM
maeve--
i guess the only question i have is this : just how desperate are you for warm bodies???
i've taught in both "band learner" and individual situations, and i could not countenance the idea of teaching piping the way your "right-hand person" is suggesting.
first of all--it devalues our art. what do you say to the piper who has learned all of his technique, worked through the transition to pipes, and finally been accepted as a playing asset in the band, who suddenly finds himself marching next to another player who has been told to "just play the big notes, it'll be okay..."
i can see editing scores for pipers who are otherwise competent but not quite up to speed on certain movements due to age, for instance. i can see accepting up-and-coming novices who have gotten through gracing, doublings, throws, birls, etc., and are still working on more advanced movements or to perfect their technique on any of the above, but are capable of making a good rendition of simpler band tunes, (while buried somewhere inobtrusive in the ranks);
but to dress and equip someone who can't be bothered or is liable to be scared off by those things which are the veryessence of the art of piping can only encourage proliferation in the breed of charlatans who have been decried in other threads in these fora, dressed to the nines, hiring out as pipers, and unable to play themselves out of the proverbial paper bag.
second--and perhaps more importantly for you--what do you say to the person who endures a "performance" by one of these bozos, and is told by said clown, off-handedly, that you were his/her teacher?
think of the reputation of your band, think of your own, but think of what you are actually trying to pass on in your teaching. i think we have an obligation to pass on the best we can.
there really is no other question.

Lori Wilson-Gaudet
01-23-2002, 01:09 PM
Originally posted by Maeve:
I'm putting this one here since I am assuming that the Pipe Majors do most of the teaching of new students in a band (or at least supervise the teaching). I've picked up 5 new students this week ... some will be taught at my home (since band night is out of the question for them at the moment) but the majority will be at the band hall. Now ... one of the pipers (right hand person) told me that I should be teaching them only the BARE BONES of piping ... no embellishments, a few gracenotes, etc. and if I try to go deeper, I'll lose them as pipers for the band because technical piping will run them off, scare them away and be too discouraging.

Now I have some real feelings about this. I am a purist .. and believe that piping should be taught with not only ALL embellishments but having the embellishments played correctly. Yes, I do water down the band tunes so that they are easier to play. But I am not sure that I could live with myself if I were to teach in such a manner. I teach new students as if they were going to go into solo competition .... and I'm being asked not to do this for band potentials. I don't think it is worth sacrificing GOOD piping and technique for warm bodies in the band. So I guess you know what my question is, right?
Love and Light,
Maeve

Maeve,
If this is the best you can do for a "right hand person"
you may be in trouble!
As Pipe Major I do hope you will tell her that in your experience and that of the advice of others with many years of experience you will teach piping "properly"
If you want to make things interesting to hold people's interest and supplement lessons with easy scaled down tunes while they are learning the exercises...so be it........but to actually teach them only to play certain movements to get them on pipes earlier and into uniforms earlier is absurd!!!
There are lots of creative ways to motivate new learners and teaching them half of the embellishments of the GHB is not one of them in my opinion!
Try teaching them to blow pipes at the same time as they are learning their exercises.....this parallel teaching is perfectly acceptable, especially because one has nothing to do with the.
I'm sorry if I seem as though I am rambling but as a judge.........the worst thing you can do in front of me is play a watered downed version of ANYTHING .........if it's too hard....DON'T PLAY IT!!!
I'd rather hear you play an easier tune played well with ALLLLLLLLLLLLL the embellishments!
My thoughts only Maeve
Lori

:mad:

Rick James
01-23-2002, 01:24 PM
Considering all the previous replies, I have to think, too, of the student, who after thinking they are learning to play the bagpipes will someday learn they are playing a "Reader's Digest" version of the instrument. I would have to think they would be embarrassed if not angry. I wouldn't do it.

Mitch Man
01-23-2002, 05:37 PM
Originally posted by Maeve:
I'll lose them as pipers for the band because technical piping will run them off, scare them away and be too discouraging.

Don't forget to collect their chanter from them on the way out the door! (Show no murcey!)


Again your problem Maeve is getting a commitment from people "before" they start or get involved in the organization. Before they even pick up a chanter, find out why they are there, what is their interest in the bagpipe? Spell out to them exactly what is involved and what to expect in terms of time and money.
Try to even persuade them not to start if it's just a passing interest or their reasons are flimsy.
Don't let anyone put you in the embarrasing position of having to fire their ass or cause you alot of grief down the road. Pipe Bands should be a source of fun, not aggrivation!


If they know the expectations up front and the consequences of not holding up their part, then you'll have a better chance of filtering the lazy ones out or having an easier job of getting rid of the slackers. Draft up a detailed sheet of the practice sessions, Gigs and what's involved in terms of learning and the amount of time it takes! If they "really" want to do this, they will appreciate the work schedule you have layed out for them.


I also had a guy that asked if he could get a cheap set of pipes to start out with, I just told him straight up
front that pipes cost $1,200 bucks and you don't get involved in this game to save money!
Save $500 dollars cash in 6 months and put the rest on the card! This will tell you their level of commitment
right of the bat! It's not a cute thing for them anymore to play the bagpipes!


A true pipe band is 6 pipers and 2 drummers, you need people that are dedicated and commited to learning the instrument and are willing to do what it takes to excell, you don't need a crowd of dummies wearing
kilts for a weekend. If you create an environment of excellence and accept nothing but people's best effort, when we shouldn't see anymore of these problems you have been posting for the past 3 years.


If people want to play in the band, make them earn it!

Don't try to row a leaky boat, it's a losing battle!

It's not luck that makes a band, it's work!
Now smarten up girl and do what you know what you have to do!

You're no Dummy, that's for sure!

cheers

John

Maeve
01-23-2002, 09:44 PM
Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!!!! You have ALL confirmed what I have felt about this .... it would be a sacriledge to teach piping any other way than the way I am doing it at the moment. Since I had not had a chance to read these responses before pratice tonight, I went in with some instinctive actions. I put someone else in charge of the band chanter practice and went to my beginners. Over the past few weeks, I had given the beginner practice to another person while I worked with the band. And I listened to the beginners tonight... and heard what they were doing ... and listened to them playing ON THE BEAT .... and mavelled at how well they were all playing their D throws. It was then that I realized that what I have been doing all along was right and that I would not change a thing.

And I did a few things that I have never done before tonight too. I listened to the silence at the other table and the talking/laughing that was going on. I got up, went over and YELLED at them all for goofing off and not practicing! I have NEVER yelled like that before but they all started to practice when I left again. I guess I've had it. If there is no committment, then what is the point??

Then I went back and posed the question to three of the beginners that have been diligent learners. I asked them if they would rather me teach them to pipe correctly or to just get them on pipes with a few gracenotes and tunes. Two of them said that they would be insulted if I were to ease up on them and not make them work CORRECTLY. The third one was on the fence ... and just wanted to be able to play the pipes regardless of how and preferred to have shortcuts on the way there. I was pleased with what I heard from them. Then one of the students took me aside later and told me that she had quit all other outside activities in order to pursue piping to it's fullest! She told me that when I was angry a few weeks ago and turned the beginners over to someone else that she was afraid that she had lost me as a teacher. That was her incentive to work harder! I almost cried to think that piping meant that much to her.

Then I was questioned by my D/S as to why I was not working with the band ... "Where is our future?" he asked ... and I simply responded that right now, our future is in the beginners. I have worked my tail off with the band members and have gotten no where. Freud's definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over while expecting different results. Right now I have beginners playing perfect throws, playing on the beat, no crossing noises, etc. and this is more than I can EVER get from the band members.

And THEN it REALLY happend! Everyone warmed up the pipes, we circled and started to play the SIMPLEST of sets ... and it sounded HORRIBLE!!! About three bars into the tune I stepped into the circle SCREAMING at them all ... and told them that this was competely unacceptable, I would not tolerate this kind of playing, could we all play the same tune at the same time please!!!!!!! Honest ... I am not a Screaming Mimi ..... but I've had enough with this group and if they had all walked out tonight, it would have been fine with me. We started again and it sounded better. I should add that a week ago I put together a mandatory tune list and told everyone that if they couldn't play these tunes, they would not play in the circle. When we were playing another set, I realized that one of the pipers was just following my fingers ... and didn't really know the tunes! Ya'll know what that does! I turned my back on the band while we finished the set and found out that only one piper other than myself was playing in the end!!!!!!!! So for the rest of the night, only this piper and I played in the circle. I'm not tolerating this any longer ... either they will commit to the band, learn the tunes and play well or leave ... or I will leave. And at this point, I don't care which way it goes.

There was one other thing that I did tonight that REALLY worked well with the beginners. I had each one of them play the same tune individually while I took their tune book. I marked (in blue ink) what they were doing wrong as they were playing... wrong gracenotes, extra gracenotes, crossing noises, etc. They LOVED it! One actually said, "She doesn't have as much blue on her page as I do!" ... and I just said ... "so want does that mean to you for this week?!?!?" :) Then I gave them all exercises to do to work through their individual problems.

Sooooooooo ... I thank you all again for confirming MY feelings about this .... and I'll continue to do as I have been doing. I could never live with myself if I turned out indecent hack pipers. Some might be anyway .. but it won't be because I didn't try!!! More suggestions are welcome. And Lori and John .. neither of you said a word that I wasn't already feeling :) :) That's why I didn't say a whole lot in my original post. There is a pride in teaching. And a serious responsibility in doing it right.
Love and Light,
Maeve

Matt Buckley_dup1
01-24-2002, 05:11 AM
Originally posted by Maeve:

moment)Now ... one of the pipers (right hand person) told me that I should be teaching them only the BARE BONES of piping ... no embellishments, a few gracenotes, etc

Your piper friend needs to be informed that those embellishments and gracenotes ARE the bare bones of piping!!!

Cheers. Matt

michael gunn
01-24-2002, 11:52 AM
maeve--
i just read your most recent post.
congratulations, lady, you have arrived! :D
i have to say that, from your accounts of conversations with your "right-hand" and your d/s (if they are not in fact the same person) suggests that this has had to be a long time coming, as well as that they are badly in need of "re-education", if not a good quick kick in the ass. if they have so little ambition, so little pride in their performance, that they would so bridle at the idea of something more being required of them, they are certainly not worth matyring your ideals to their lack of commitment. the response of your learners should tell you you are absolutely on track.
the only other advice i could add is that, while it may sideline the band for a time, stick to your guns on this--any compromise has got to be by your lights (you are the p/m). the end result is worth much more than ensuring the "comfort zone" of a bunch of non-achievers.
or--in the immortal words of john belushi--"my advice is to start drinking...heavily...now..."

carry on! :cool:

Dain Forsythe
01-24-2002, 07:15 PM
Whew!
Maeve and all: I know this forum is for P/Ms, but I just got finished reading the "motivation" thread and this thread.

I think I just relived some of my previous pipe band expereince.

Check my index card -- I'm not in a band, but I was. I could choose between two, right now.

I was one of those who: needed better private lessons, and needed constructive criticism - don't single me out in front of everyone -- I won't respect you, and I might even pull you aside after practice, one-on-one and let you know, in a civil manner, that I just lost all respect for you.

Please, pull me aside or give me a call on the phone and just mention it to me one-on-one. I have a very difficult time following anyone for whom I have little or no respect. Well -- I'm not in that band, so there ya have it.

I wanted to be challenged. Often times I was, but I began to resent the fact that others were just showing up without having practiced, and because of the politics, they never seemed to improve.

The final stroke was when I learned from the PM, himself (!), that he rarely got any opportunity to practice outside of band practice! I was gone!

I saw the band six months later at a gathering. I was playing a solo piece. From talking to one of the drummers, I learned that they were all surprised that I was still piping. As if I couldn't play pipes unless I was in a pipe band!

Don't lose those beginners who have the commitment! Who want to be challenged! Don't let them slip between the cracks. I have a particular tenacity about my personality, but not everyone has this trait. Some really need the leadership! Sounds like you have it! Though it may not be all that fun.

Not learning the proper embellishments: A) When in the band, I had learned numerous tunes with watered down embellishments, but I was given the impression (overtly mind you) that they were settings that were the norm. Once I started spending money on sheet music -- boy was I surprised and resentful. I felt like I'd been kept in a cave and fed white bread with the intention that I would never know about the wheat bread. B) I found that I had learned some embellishments incorrectly, but I had to travel to an out of state workshop to find this out. When I mentioned it to my then current instructor, I got a blank look. :mad:
OUTA THERE! FIRED!

I just wanted to give you a view from the other side! I haven't started teaching, yet. But when I do. The student better be ready to work! I'll be working to teach well, they should work to learn well!

Cheers,

Dain --'kind of wish I lived in Florida right now --Forsythe

:)

[ January 24, 2002: Message edited by: Dain Forsythe ]

Maeve
01-24-2002, 09:51 PM
Originally posted by dain:
Whew!
The final stroke was when I learned from the PM, himself (!), that he rarely got any opportunity to practice outside of band practice! I was gone! <snip>

Don't lose those beginners who have the commitment! Who want to be challenged! [ January 24, 2002: Message edited by: Dain Forsythe ]

Well, Dain ... your story sounds all to familiar to me. This evening I was speaking to one of the band members on the phone and he relayed something to me that happened at "the other table" last night. Apparently one of the pipers was looking at the music in the band tune book and asked "What the heck kind of embellishment is this? I've never seen one before" .... and upon looking at it, it was revealed to this fellow that it was a half-doubling. He said he had never heard of a half-doubling before and wanted to know if it was really a mistake or not. This fellow is not new to piping .... he's been playing for 15 years. I'm still shaking my head in disbelief!! And I'm REALLY rethinking what needs to be done with this band. Lots of thoughts are entering my head as I think this event through tonight. Thoughts like ... Page 1 of the COP pop into my mind.

As far as the P/M (moi!)practicing during the week, well, I play for 2 1/2 hours a day twice a week with one of the band members ... and these sessions are open to ALL members... and the two of us work very hard :) That is how the secondary tune list came about for the band. Those who can play these tunes can do so. Those who cannot will stand at attention in the circle while the ones of us who can, will.

One of my students (who is my "shining star") does want to get together for a private lesson during the week. She lives 2 hours from me ... so I told her to pick a day and I would drive half way, meet her in a park and work with her. There is nothing that I WON'T do for a student who is serious about piping. I'm just at a loss as to what to do with the rest ....

Yep ... it was 82 degrees today ... bright, sunny .... great piping weather .... nice beaches .... any takers?? :)
Love and Light,
Maeve

Mitch Man
01-24-2002, 11:25 PM
Ok Maeve, I can see and here the frustrasion, Time to step back and take a breath and get a plan together!

Ok, so your regular players can't play the tunes up to standard and most just muck about for their own pleasure!

Here's what you do!

Announce that the Playing Standard is unacceptable and
make a list of the tunes that will need to worked on and
a schedule to do this! You will need to produce a tape
for them to all rehearse to at home.

Pick the tunes apart like it was the first time anyone has ever seem them. If you do this phrase by phrase and one on one around the practice table, you will embarrass them into
playing an acceptable standard!

If you show them exactly what you want, then there's no excuse to play anything different!

Hope this helps!

cheers

John

Dain Forsythe
01-25-2002, 09:39 PM
Wow! Maeve. If you're willing to extend yourself as far as driving that far to meet with a student/band member, I'm not sure what you should do with the rest who do not want to meet you half way in any form of effort.

I don't envy your situation. Keep the tough stuff up! Sounds like you very well may need to let a few fall to the side to get things rolling. Don't give up, though. You may find that some will respond over time, and may already be doing so.

Much if not all of the advice given from the other PM's sound like good strategies for improvement. Be kind but firm. Soft voice, hard rules!

Those who rise to the challenge will get their rewards in good time and in good music.

Enough from me here.

Good luck! :)

Cheers,

Dain

Rojellio
01-26-2002, 07:03 AM
I might hope that the Right Hand Person is not also acting in the capacity of "Tuning Boy". IF its enough to play the big notes only, where does this "high gravity road" come to an end?? Would it also be ok to be in tune on low A, and kind of OK on High A, and a bit out of whack everywhere else threoughout the scale?? Would waivering drones be acceptable, so long as they arent too far out??

Indeed, there is nothing wrong with playing easier tunes without quite as much meat. OR trimmed down Tunes that get fattened up later. Get the basics down, melody, coming down on the beat, unison etc. Then fatten the Tunes back up. What one Piper can stand there and do by themself, and what a dozen can do together as a group are two different things.The Band tunes should reflect what the band can do together as a cohesive unit.

Each and every Piper as an individual should know the backbone basics. Whether or not they play Band Tunes as meaty as they would a Solo Tune is another matter, but they should know and be capable of producing the meat.

Indeed, It seems like quite a lot when learning or teaching. How much is there in the way of meat? Each note has a Doubling, and half doubling. Tachums, birl, runs & the "Din" movement. A couple of Toarluaths, and the Lemluath can be played from any note to any note. IF this is the big bad beefy meat you are being advised to cut out, forget it. Indeed, selectivly a little can be cut out, and filled back in later in the Band scores. As Pipers however, you owe it to them to teach the backbone basics.

Piping Bear
01-30-2002, 09:30 AM
Maeve- I encountered a situation where students were taught only melody notes and to use a g-gracenote instead of those "hard embellishments". The students weren't happy because it didn't sound right, timing was off and no one felt challenged.

When I picked up their training, we dropped back a bit and started working on the doublings and throws. I found that some were pattern-learners and it took longer to get the old habits un-learned and re-patterned(something to consider.)

Now- they're playing on-beat and feeling pride in their music and advancement. I think my situation will affirm you're making the right choice.

Yours,Aye,
Evan

mccrimmon
02-01-2002, 06:45 AM
Let me first admit to "trespass': I am a novice in terms of piping but the thread on teaching the pipes has touched upon my professional area as a trainer and teacher so I hope the views expressed below will be taken in context.

Current wisdom is that a teacher's function is to provide a rich environment for learning and that current educational practise focuses very much on student centred learning- developing the learning process around the needs and style of the learner. So how much of your teaching is about the music, how much your own needs for perfection or about preserving the process by which you were taught?

There has been a great deal of research into learning and the factors that enhance or obstruct it and whilst much is concerned with formal education it remains valid in terms of any learning we undertake. So what does research tell us?

Learners and the process
We are all predisposed to learn in certain domains but we are different

Learners are most successful if they are mindful of themselves as learners- they need sensible targets and feedback to monitor progress.

The expert is able to see patterns and structures in their area of expertise and this is what the novice needs to develop. The novice needs conceptual knowledge to help build patterns for themselves.

Learning is better when it has a social context – how many times have I tried to learn the pipes on my own and failed?

Learning requires skills and knowledge to extended the learner beyond the context in which they are learned

"Wrote' learning is rarely transferred into action

Learners bring "old' learning with them to a new situation and it may help or hinder the new learning.

I learn best when I can identify links between new learning and the old.

Learning is ongoing and dynamic- I don't have to learn everything at once (I can't!)

Above all, learning requires motivation- damage my motivation and you damage my learning. Does the tutor understand the motivators? Why am I learning the pipes- to play in a Grade 1 band, to entertain others, to play a simple tune at a relative's wedding, for social interaction or just to explore the instrument out of curiosity? How do I react to being made to feel stupid or slow? Will it really be a year of practice chanter duty before I can "have a go' on a real bagpipe- I was trusted with a real car from the moment I started learning to drive!

Tutors
Few learners in my experience understand how to learn and they will depend on the tutor to identify strategies that will help. What range of strategies does the tutor have to offer?

How often does the tutor review his/her own learning in the role of teacher?

Has the tutor acknowledge his/her values? Is the tutor concerned more with performance or learning outcomes?

What are the tutor's motives in teaching? To what degree do they complement the student's motives for learning?

Expertise is required of the good tutor but that doesn't mean experts always make the best tutors.


Maeve in her original posting identified that she was out to train potential members of the band and being a purist expected all the embellishments to be learned. I see nothing wrong with this, providing the hopefuls commencing the training understand and see it as a reasonable goal. What happens to those who don't make the grade- are they thrown out of the band to become those angry souls who snipe on newgroups or busk their two or three poorly played tunes in city centres? At my advanced age I don't know if I'll ever make the ranks of the band but if I advance my learning and retain my love of the instrument I will certainly remain an active and useful member of the "club'. Above all I hope my learning gives me new insights into the instrument and the music, and I shall try my hardest to learn and use correct embellishments- not because it's demanded of me by my tutor but because I want to learn.

My heartfelt thanks to all of you who give up your time and have your ears assailed by squawking chanters in your efforts to teach the GHB.

Tom
A determined novice

Hank Delison
02-01-2002, 06:22 PM
I confess, when I first got into my last band, I was is such a hurry to play all the tunes up to speed that I dropped a lot of embellishments. Sure, I was able to play with the band, but guess what happened?? My my own count I have ruined at least 6 tunes. Tunes that now I should be able to play right, but because of the shortcuts I took, I can't play them, except simpled out. Well, when the band got some new tunes, really nice ones that I really wanted to play, I had to face the fact that I would not be able to play them right, not at that speed. So here I am , my wife and I (she was in the same boat) in a different band. A band that has a beginners level and a more advanced level of players. We both are determined to work our way into the advanced level, but the right way this time. All the embellishments, played right , at the proper speed. All you P/Ms out there, don't let you players simple the tunes down, If we can't play'em right, we can sit outside the circle.
Hank----Been there, done that, wish I hadn't.

Maeve
02-01-2002, 09:34 PM
Originally posted by mccrimmon:
Let me first admit to "trespass': I am a novice in terms of piping but the thread on teaching the pipes has touched upon my professional area as a trainer and teacher so I hope the views expressed below will be taken in context.<Big Snip>
My heartfelt thanks to all of you who give up your time and have your ears assailed by squawking chanters in your efforts to teach the GHB.

Tom
A determined novice

Fantastic response, Tom! Thank you! I have given so much thought to every one of your points over the last few weeks. There is such a conflict of interest going on here. First, without trying to sound like I'm blowing my own horn, I have been told by a great piper/teacher that I might not become one of the greatest pipers in the world but I have the potential to be a great teacher (his words, not mine! I'd prefer to be a great piper :wink: !). That is good since teaching is the one thing that I probably do better than most anything else :) :) And I love it! So all of your thoughts here are things that I ponder constantly.

The first conflict comes from my devotion to proper and good piping and developing "warm bodies" for the band. There are times when I am really pressured to "push" the beginners and get them playing. To do this, I would have to compromise my own values, which I will not do. It is more important for me (and most of my beginners) to not rush the process and for them to learn how to do it RIGHT. It would be WAY different if I were producing pipers for the sake of their own piping. But it always feels like I'm under a time-frame with the band ....

I truly recognize the learning differences in the students and try to work with the needs of each one ... and BOY are they different!!!!! I have the opposite ends of the spectrum! :lol:! But that is the challenge in being a good teacher. The one thing that I NEVER want to feel is that humiliation when one of my students tells an accomplished piper that *I* am the one teaching them! You know what I mean here. As I have said, I know that some of them are never going to be great ... some might not even be good pipers ... but I try with each one to make sure that they are doing the best that they are capable of doing.

The other night, we (the beginners) had the chance to shine and I was SOOOOOO proud of them! They had been learning Coulter's Candy ... a tune that the band knows as well. They were doing so well that I stopped the other pratice table and the drummer practice and had the beginners play for them... and they were dead on the beat and every gracing played properly. The band table took it as a challenge .. and proceeded to play it right after the beginners ... and it wasn't a pretty picture!!!!!!!! While I laughed with joy, the drummers voted the beginners as the winner!!!! It did the beginners a world of good in their confidence and showed the band that they (the band) really had their work cut out for them!!! :) And I'm still smiling :)

We also had another P/M come into the band last week (the father of one of the pipers who is here from Scotland for a while). He told me that he would help and get the pipers playing well. Hmmmmmm .... seems to have caused a real rebellion within the piping unit. Loyalty and devotion seem to be involved there. I told him to knock himself out but it looks as though the pipers are not going to work AT ALL for him. Will have to get out another "hat" to work through that problem.

As far as the "motivation" part of this ... I started a post on this exact subject a few weeks ago. In a "past life", I was a substance abuse counselor .... with court ordered drunks. The only motivation that they had was to get their driver's licenses back ... and it was difficult to work with them under those conditions. They "complied" with the courts demands ... and that was it. I only mention this because I found that there was no way to motivate these people into WANTING to recover from their addictions ... and this is much the same as I'm finding with the pipers. Unless I "raise the bar", there is really no motivation. Since the band members love to perform, if you want to perform, wear a kilt and attend functions then you must be able to play X, Y, and Z to a set standard. This seems to be the only motivating factor here. I would never NOT allow a person in the band because of their playing abilities. I have one fellow who is in his 80's ... and we work around what he can and can't do. A number of the band members have told me that I'm wasting time working with one of the beginners. Again .. this is a community .... and I have to go with the program in some respects. But I've fought to keep this person in the band and give him a fair shake. He's finally learning .. after a year and a half. And he's still not on the pipes ... but getting closer! So when DO you throw in the towel??

IF I were teaching individuals in my home for "whatever" reasons they wanted to learn, this would be a totally different story. However ... because these people chose to come into a band environment to learn, because none of them will come to the house to take additional private tuition, and because I have to think of the good of the band as well as the other things, the story changes tremendously. What a juggling act!

And Hank ... the students in our band don't slide by with improper embellishments :) :) Good for you that you are trying to undo the bad habits. It's difficult at best. Good luck with it!

Love and Light,
Maeve .... juggling the best way I know how!

AWPIPER
02-01-2002, 09:47 PM
Maeve,
To give you a little insight into some of my students,One of my students is in the early 50's bracket.Has been with the band for almost 5 years.Played 4 tunes.....One correctly.Since I have started working with the group (just under a year now)I have them playing Scotland the Brave....Correctly.It is not the only tune (Thank God)
As long as you show the proper way to do the embellishments,work on the timing.....over and over again.Eventually it will ingrain itself and show thru in the playing.I am proud of them and the accomplishments they have made.

Don't give up hope......It just takes TIME.

Cheers, :D
Mark

Mitch Man
02-01-2002, 10:45 PM
4 tunes in 5 years??? They must be rather huge Chunes! :lol:

Since we started this past November, the group has learned about 12 tunes and is working hard to prepare to compete
for the very first time.

They have learned a 4 tune March Medley and are now
just playing it on pipes. The plan is to play another
6 tune Medley they are working on and have that on the
the pipes by the end of February too.

On top of that, they are learning another 4 parted Jig to
fit into a smaller medley for a variety of entertaining tunes.

For some of the members, it is their first time playing other time signatures other than the standard marches.

Moral is high and attendance at practices is running
at neary 100%. With a little planning and some old fashioned
work, much can be accomplished in a short time.

This will be interesting!

cheers

JM

AWPIPER
02-01-2002, 10:57 PM
Actually Mitch Man.....Unfortunately they are not "Huge Chunes"......I did preface my post by saying this student was playing ONE correctly.That was a major hurdle to overcome.Breaking a student of bad habits is more troublesome then most can imagine.
It does sound like your group has gotten it together though.I wish you the best of luck.
Cheers,
Mark :D

mccrimmon
02-04-2002, 08:08 AM
Maeve,

A brief admission here: I have toyed with a chanter on and off for years but a career/family/other adventures always seemed to get in the way- that and the fact I could never find a local teacher. A while back I spotted one of your postings on the Newsgroup re your trip to Skye and the buzz you got from playing at the MacCrimmon Memorial cairn. I was stirred by the joy you shared with the group in making that link with the past. Despite my previous failures I wanted that buzz for myself. I resolved there and then to play at the memorial and know that whoever was listening would find little fault with the outcome (it really is tough having the name and the genes but not the skill!). Probably sounds a bit 'slushy' but emotion never did piping any harm did it? So now I have a goal I'm working towards and whereas ten years ago I might have given up with frustration with some embellishments- now I put the chanter aside for an hour and return to the fingering eager for more.

I have also built up a library on piping and this is improving my understanding of not just pipe music but of music in a broader sense: another great motivator. Finally I have a growing collection of CDs from piobaireachd to traditional band music and some weird pipe stuff I've found on the Internet. The more I listen the more I want to play to a good standard but best of all is listening and watching the band playing live. Motivation, motivation, motivation.

What ever happened to Victoria Murgatroyd's tutor book?

Thanks all for giving me the space to share my thoughts..now back to the beginners forum.... :rolleyes:

Tom

Connie B
02-04-2002, 11:27 AM
About letting players slide by...

Maeve, I'm also an ahem, learning player who's a P/M and I can tell you one approach our band tried that didn't work very well.

We had spent about 3 years with beginner tunes and working on proper movements with the whole band. It was going pretty well. but then some players, and our audiences, were starting to get bored to death and needed variety - in idiom as well as different tunes in each idiom.

So we decided to increase the kinds of tunes, with the expectation that people come to band ready to do "ensemble" and that they would continue to work on the basics as individual players by taking lessons, going to schools, doing Macgillivray's exercises, etcetera.

So then we had a repertoire of beginning tunes and not-so-beginning tunes. Players who could play up to speed and players who couldn't.

So then what did we do with various skill levels at a single practice? We have band values of "everybody plays" and "do the best you can", hoping that with time and repetition, everybody improves. We did not cut for skill level for any tune, and practices did not separate out into "beginner" and "advanced" halves or whatever. Seems like a good idea in hindsight...

Well this is not good for beginning players. Beginners like the attention to individual skills at practice, which we weren't providing. (Oh did I mention there is a lack of teachers in our town for weekly or even monthly lessons for adults). They like to play plenty of tunes with plenty of others at their skill level, and not feel constantly pushed beyond what is good for their own long-term well-being, quite right too.

So now we have more of the higher grade 4s and very few beginners and must start from scratch with a beginner program just like before.

I guess the moral of the story is, your balancing act is as good as it gets. From what I see.

Maeve
02-04-2002, 12:19 PM
Originally posted by Connie B:
About letting players slide by...

Maeve, I'm also an ahem, learning player who's a P/M and I can tell you one approach our band tried that didn't work very well.

We had spent about 3 years with beginner tunes and working on proper movements with the whole band. It was going pretty well. but then some players, and our audiences, were starting to get bored to death and needed variety - in idiom as well as different tunes in each idiom. <SNIP>
So then we had a repertoire of beginning tunes and not-so-beginning tunes. Players who could play up to speed and players who couldn't.

So then what did we do with various skill levels at a single practice? We have band values of "everybody plays" and "do the best you can.Hi Connie,
That is EXACTLY what I did a few weeks ago .... and made the announcement that "If you can't run with the big dogs, stay on the porch" ... well, not in those words but close :wink: And I had typed out a tune list that had the core tunes (mandatory tune list), an optional tune list, and then an advanced tune list (that only two of us could play at that moment). During practice, I ran through the core tunes (with lots of stops and starts for corrections ... STILL!), and then went to the Advanced tune list that had some MSR's and things. I called the tune set and all of a sudden .. I was SCREAMED at by one of the other pipers ..... "IT'S NOT FAIR for you to play tunes that the rest of us don't know!!!" Well .. if there is one thing that you don't do ... it's scream at Maeve! She has red hair! :lol:! :) I simply replied that it was MORE than fair ... that everyone has access to the tunes, everyone can learn the tunes, and those who do learn them are welcome to join it. We'll see what Wed. night brings this week! :lol:! The new "assistant" P/M should be there to work with the band while I continue with my beginners. I'm still standing by my belief that these folks are my future.
Love and Light,
Maeve

Connie B
02-04-2002, 03:42 PM
You go girl! I'm laughing over here at the thought of a "Jerry Springer" style band practice.

At least that would get the energy level up there!

Connie

Mitch Man
02-04-2002, 07:23 PM
Connie, did you get my message on the private messages board? Look in the "MY PROFILE" section
at the top of this page!

I have a solution for the specific frustrations
you talked about.

Let me know what you think!

cheers

JM