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Old 10-05-2019, 09:03 PM   #1
RudyInfante
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Default Getting back the saddle!

Getting back into piping after a 6 year hiatus. I left mainly because I was having a very hard time maintaining the pressure necessary to keep the instrument going. I would get bad lower back pain every time I played. Come to realize, the pain is there whether I play or not. My teacher at the time used to tell me that I was playing with an easy reed. I think that it was easy to him, a professional piper of many years. He would tell me to keep going, that in the long run I would have to get used to a hard reed. I never tried an easy read and just gave up. I want to try again. Can anyone tell me if there really is a big difference between a medium/hard reed and a soft/easy reed? I am also going to be needing a teacher. I live in Miami, Florida. Thank you!!!


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Old 10-06-2019, 02:29 AM   #2
Mac an t-Sealgair
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Default Re: Getting back the saddle!

Yes, there is a considerable difference between an easy and a hard reed. But you don't have to play a hard reed. Most people will play a medium or an easy.
Ultimately, yes you do have to build up some stamina, the ghbs is a very physical instrument. It may be difficult for a period but with perseverance and time you will overcome any problem of stamina. Think of playing the ghbs to running a half marathon, you want to build up the endurance, and strength to maintain a rhythm to allow you to run a set distance efficiently and easily. Playing the ghbs is no different. That said don't do yourself an injury, a good teacher will be able to manipulate a reed to aid your development.
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Old 10-06-2019, 07:07 AM   #3
el gaitero
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Default Re: Getting back the saddle!

Itís much to do with technique...taught,learned and consciously applied until rote. An Easy or Easy-Medium reed will do.

It would helpful If you seek out a local piper ( check out some bands) with a manometer just to help you check your reed strength ...just for personal satisfaction and so you know what youíve got and recognize the diff.

If a reed is too hard..donít play it. Play reeds that you can.

Donít try to go it alone...FL is full of Pipers..many at the top Oí the world.
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Old 10-06-2019, 07:21 AM   #4
pancelticpiper
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Default Re: Getting back the saddle!

Quote:
Originally Posted by RudyInfante View Post
My teacher used to tell me I was playing an easy reed...it was easy to him, a professional piper of many years. He would tell me I would have to get used to a hard reed.
Back around 1980 I was playing in a good band and the Pipe Major gave me a strong reed to play.

I went to piping school and the head instructor, Pipe Major Evan MacRae, who had spent decades in the Army, was a reedmaker, and a Gold Medalist, tried my pipes an immediately put them down saying "nobody should be playing a reed that hard. It's not necessary. You can get a bigger tone than that from a much easier reed".

He gave me one of his reeds, far easier, and just as strong-sounding.

I've since then encountered a number of top pipers/piper-reedmakers/tonemeisters who get terrific tone out of their pipes using relatively easy reeds.

They can shave a reed to make it easier AND louder, or "free up" the reed as they say.

It's not about how hard a reed is, it's about how efficient it is.
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Old 10-06-2019, 09:01 AM   #5
RudyInfante
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Default Re: Getting back the saddle!

This is good to hear because I was told at the time that easy reeds sound like crap and that I needed to play harder reed if I wanted to have a full sound. Thank you for informing me! As far as the GHB physically demanding nature, it sounds like there is no getting around that, not even with an easy reed. I remember not being able to hold a high A for more than a minute! I would have to squeeze the bag so hard that I couldnít even finger notes!


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Old 10-06-2019, 01:46 PM   #6
el gaitero
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Default Re: Getting back the saddle!

Iím trying to recollect which tunes require a 1 minute High A....

I think playing several slow full up down scales..several times over ..and holding each note for 4 slow beats might be more benefit in appreciating how to best manipulate the instrument.
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Old 10-06-2019, 07:59 PM   #7
Klondike Waldo
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Default Re: Getting back the saddle!

If you're having lower back pains when you play, in addition to switching to easier reeds ( which I recommend- I play easy reeds because I often play long solo sets of 40 minutes to over an hour), I'd advise having someone assess your posture. A bag or blowstick of the wrong size can put your body out of form while playing, as can an off-balance posture hunched shoulders, etc.
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Old 10-06-2019, 10:37 PM   #8
RudyInfante
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Default Re: Getting back the saddle!

I agree.... I know that I have poor posture. All my life Iíve hunched over. Iím working on it, though. Especially when Iím standing at a music performance. I feel the difference. I will try that, thank you!


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Old 10-07-2019, 06:23 PM   #9
DapperDan
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Default Re: Getting back the saddle!

I got sore everything when I first started. Even got a bloody nose after blowing the pipe chanter for the first time! I had to build up very gradually. Some experienced pipers will tell you that your reed is very easy, even if it's more like a medium - a small difference will feel a lot bigger to you than to them. You might try ordering your own "very easy" or "beginner" reed. If it still feels hard, dip it in water and try again. Hold a low A for a minute or two, and try again a day or two later. You can also cork the chanter stock and play a drone to get a feel for blowing a steady tone. That's what I had to do. A few years later I'm fine playing parades, with a nice efficient set of pipes. You can get good projection and tone with a comfortable set up - just always be checking the bag and joints!

good luck, hopefully you get back into it
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Old 10-07-2019, 06:49 PM   #10
RudyInfante
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Default Re: Getting back the saddle!

Thank you for the words of encouragement!


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