View Full Version : Taking the pipes to the parents....

12-19-2005, 12:57 PM
I had to take the pipes home this Christmas as I am in the critical lip/wind building part and have a performance to prep for in a month. I knew, just knew, it was going to be the subject of the entire visit, but.......I was willing to risk it.

My dad is the quintessential dad with a camera intent on embarrassing his kids. I am 43, and these things still happen......

Day 1: I arrived late last night, and need to get my 25 minutes of droning in before we get going on the whirlwind day. My parents say they don't need to leave the house, go ahead and drone in the back room. I close the door, strike up, carefully tune, and drone away. My lips don't last long, so this exercise takes full concentration --- shut eyes, gently walk in a circle, concentrate on bag pressure, breath control, steady drones.......spitting, working on holding lips together, really working hard.....I hear a noise, open my eyes, dad has opened the door and is filming me with the video camera, laughing. I try to yell at him to leave me alone, drones start falling off, I start laughing, cannot recover, bagpipe collapses into cacophany, and it is all on video. Sigh.

I go to the front room, mom, attempting to soothe the situation says, "That isn't nearly as loud or obnoxious as I thought it would be --- its kind of soothing, sounds like those leafblowers they use outside to clean off the sidewalks."

Day 2: I lock the bedroom door. Same setup. I hear a noise, open eyes, dad has PICKED THE LOCK and is filming........I run over (pipes a waving) and try to slam the door shut, but he blocks it with his foot, pipes collapse, cacophany, all on tape.

Day 3: I catch dad playing with my practice chanter, but he is tonguing it and fingering it like a recorder. I figure here is my chance to get him. I try to explain that you don't tongue ("WHY NOT????). He won't hear it, of course you tongue, you always tongue woodwind instruments. He proceeds to play some tunes by ear, and it "sounds just fine." He is doing the bent fingers on the holes like playing a recorder, and I try to at least show him proper finger position and a "real" scale. He's not having it --- "It sounds perfectly fine the way I am playing it, and no one in their right mind would hold a woodwind instrument that way.....you always play on the pads, like clarinets and flutes....." Did I mention my dad was in the USMC band as a saxaphone player during the Korean War. SO -- I can show him nothing on the PC, so I plot as to how I am going to get him to try the pipes.....

Day 3: My nieces, 3 and 5, show up as I am trying to drone. They run into the bedroom screaming, run out, run in, scream, cover their ears, want to try, etc. I give up, put pipe away on top shelf of closet, and hand them each a practice chanter. They are interested in the concepts of fingering, but mostly blowing them loudly, vaguely to the rhythm of jingle bells. Dad films us --- them honking a Jingle Bells rhythm, me singing Amazing Grace and directing them......they turning red in the face and getting dizzy as I keep telling them to "blow it hard now". This video, I keep. It is too cute.

Day 4: Dad leaves computer unattended, I get to it and erase previous video sessions of my droning in my pajams before breakfast. I inform dad that his material is gone, but that he can film it over now that I am showered, tuned, and ready to perform a tune. I manage to gasp out Amazing Grace.......so my first tune with all three drones and a real cane reed is recorded for posterity. In reviewing the film, I note veins in my neck that I never knew I had.

Day 5: I am practicing the PC on the back porch, when nieces come over. I am finishing up my College of Piping scales, when I hear my 5 year old say in hushed awe: "Daddy, Aunt Terri is singing to the geese." Laughing, practice time is done for the day.

Later in the day, it finally happens......a HORRIFIC noise from my bedroom.....sounds like my pipes got run over by a car.....Dad has given it a shot, and by golly, "it just isn't nearly as easy as it looks..." He looks like he is wrassling an octopus and sounds like he is killing a cat. No one can breathe from laughing. He hands them to me and says, "Well, YOU play them." I get through Amazing Grace and start Scotland.....and he says, "Wow, how do you do that?" VICTORY!!!!!!!!!!!

As I write this, my dad catches me online, reads it, and with a twinkle in his eye says, "A prophet is always without honor in his own land," and cryptically leaves the room. I think I get what he means....


12-19-2005, 01:03 PM
That is such a great story! You should publish it someplace!

Les Matheson
12-19-2005, 01:40 PM
If you sent that to Readers Digest, I bet they'd pay you for it.

12-19-2005, 07:13 PM
What would be worth money are the video clips. OMG.

12-20-2005, 11:35 AM
That is pure hilarity. Wish I could see some of those clips. My family is always heckling my practices too. Can't wait to get my pipes and let them see what they can manage

12-20-2005, 11:53 AM
Oh, Terri -- I am indeed sympathetic. I have told my parents that I will never be famous because there are never photos of famous people doing idiotic things (until after they are famous). My father was a professional photographer so every moment of my life, from Day 1 until the day I left for college, is recorded for posterity. NO ONE will want all these ridiculous photos. What they tell me is that I have been well-loved.

GREAT story. You are well-loved as well, I can see. Your Mom and mine went to the same School of Mom: well, it's not as awful as I thought it would be. My Mom: can't you STOP that annoying banging and tapping? YOU ARE GETTING ON MY NERVES. (That was when I was about a week old.)

12-21-2005, 06:41 AM
THAT was beautiful! I would like to keep that to peek at when I get fed up with my practise schedule that includes 3 kids...

Some of my zanier practise sessions have included playing "pipe band", with means marching in a line, myself in front with kids trailing behind with toy drums or practise chanters. This always ends with the drummer behind me poking me in the rear with a drum stick to march faster. Great for the concentration; if you can keep on a tune while being poked with a drum stick!!

After you get a few tunes under your belt...you get requests...as in..."play the hi g tune"...???..( I suppose I should be impressed that they know the notes!!)

The best was the day I relegated all kids to the couch because I kept tripping over them in my efforts to concentrate on my tunes (eyes closed of course)...after playing for a bit I looked over, not having been interupted for a few tunes...and they were all asleep. Bored? or Lulled? I choose lulled.

Thanks for the pick-me-up!!

12-21-2005, 11:16 AM
That is absolutely the best story!!!
Thanks for posting it!!!

slowair player
12-21-2005, 03:01 PM
Sounds like a cut from a future movie...or maybe a scene from the next "Father of the bride"..I agree though, Readers Digest!! :thumb:

12-22-2005, 01:30 AM
STUART the kilt-fetching-elf is winging his way to Scotland as I write. He will be back on Jan. 7th and Terri will have her kilt soon so that when she plays for Mom and Pop next time, she can do it in a dress. Terri, your mom will positively faint!

That was a TERRIfic story. And it's going to get better.

We're just taking my drum and two grand-dogs to the parents.

12-22-2005, 03:18 PM
I am still laughing at Sassy's creative innovation and energy at playing "pipe band" with the kids in order to squeak out more practice --- yep, playing while being prodded in the nether quarters with a drumstick will DEFINATELY improve your concentration.

I don't have kids, and enjoy the fact that my cat no longer stares at me with huge eyes and runs and hides when I grab the pipes. (Now she just looks at me in exhasperated patience, and only runs when I am working on the High a and g things.....)

You moms who pipe and drum --- hats off!!!!!

And Catherine, my mom is STILL telling people that I bought a skirt from Scotland that a guy I met on the internet is bringing home to me......

Richard Strayer
12-22-2005, 03:53 PM
Originally posted by windsaloft:
And Catherine, my mom is STILL telling people that I bought a skirt from Scotland that a guy I met on the internet is bringing home to me...... Yah, joining the piping community comes with its share of embarrasing moments, that's for sure. As a middle-aged man, one discussion I never in my life imagined having with my mother was how to enter and exit a car gracefully while wearing a pleated skirt. (she also advised me never to let the girls talk me into climbing a telephone pole, ladder, monkey bars, etc., while wearing my kilt)

12-22-2005, 06:06 PM
Your mother sounds like a wise being (and most helpful resource whose advice I could use on that topic!). Of course, I gotta know --- did she ask anything about what was worn under, or was that "just not proper" (shudder....). My mom, very uncomfortably, did ask me I was going to be properly attired when wearing my new skirt........

I said, "sure mom, I'll have a sporran on and everything......" (was that mean?)

Richard Strayer
12-22-2005, 09:46 PM
Well, she said not to let the girls look up my kilt 'cause they just wanted to see my panties; so I told her not to worry, I would keep them safely locked in my drawer where no one could see them.

12-23-2005, 02:16 PM
Richard, you obviuosly paid attention to the jokes that circulated your elementary school - and remembered them!

12-28-2005, 03:31 PM
Well, I was sent out to the back 20 while practicing my drum. My mother walked past me on the patio with her ears covered and making a scrunching horrible face. It seems to soothe the dogs, however. When they start freaking about being in a different place, I just whip out the practice pad or better yet, my drum, and they calm right down.

I do hope I manage to learn the pipes before my mother dies. :rolleyes:

12-30-2005, 10:29 PM
Windsaloft - I laughed and cried as I read your story. It was almost exactly the same with my father and I when I started piping.
I would start up and then take a short break about a minute or so after starting. If I dashed to the bedroom door really quickly I could catch my father before he caught me :)

Great story, thanks.