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Old 02-10-2014, 10:31 PM   #30
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Join Date: Dec 2001
Location: Haifa, ISRAEL
Posts: 4,393
Default Re: Adult learners who can play straths, reels, jigs and h'pipes.

This topic is, to an extent, frustrating for me. The corpus of tunes for the Highland pipes is vast. There are many simple jigs and reels and hornpipes. A very open tune without any complex phrases or technique can still be very melodic or delightfully rhythmic, despite being easier.

I never understand how even adult pipers can go years without having been given appropriate jigs, reels, hornpipes, strathspeys, and given guidance about building up both dexterity and speed in a clean manner. In that way, many, maybe not all, but many can indeed build-up to some very solid big tunes. Yes, many will have limitations in both technique and speed. But many jigs and reels don't need ripping speed if they are played with great expression--cleanness enhances the positive effect. Can't play them unmusically slow, indeed, but no need for mach 6 either. I have heard Itchy Fingers, Clumsy Lover, etc. played faster by eager adult learners than by pipers who can handle high speed cleanly.

I question how many teachers are setting-up the better adult learners with clear instruction in the various genre of tunes, and beginning with the simpler ones and slowling moving forward. I once heard a street band that turned semi-competitive in grade IV, at Santa Rosa, USA, maybe 35-38 years ago, play The High Level amazingly well. A little slow, but still musical. They had to leave out a few of the old-timers who couldn't hack it, but an experienced new p/m pushed and got results. He put everyone back to rudiments, and insisted on consistent, directed home practicing. Somehow he inspired, and proved a musical point. They also did Glasgow Police Pipers Jig, which many slash and burn at that level, but few play well.

The p/m pushed, got maybe 60-70% inspired, and seriously improved the playing ability and sound of a band almost completely made of adult learners.

So often bad rudiments and inconsistent practice is the problem, the reason why the fuller, longer jigs, reels, HPs, don't every go well.

Big strathspeys are a whole level above, and an adult player will have to seriously attack his strathspey rudiments, and work with a solid strathspey player. I also advise anyone wanting to conquer strathspeys to observe good Highland dancers as they learn to play the bigger tunes.

Hard, directed practice with a good teacher, and a lot of repetition, can bring up the more motivated adult learners for sure. Sadly, not all, but that's true for many things picked up late in life.

Last edited by David; 02-10-2014 at 10:35 PM.
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