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Old 10-11-2019, 10:50 AM   #11
Dan Bell
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Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: Columbia, MD
Posts: 857
Default Re: Getting back the saddle!

This subject makes me irrationally angry, mostly because it keeps coming up...

NOBODY SHOULD PLAY A REED THAT'S TOO HARD FOR THEM. Period. Nobody who inflicts a too-hard reed on their students should be teaching. It's anathema to learning how to play properly!

When you're teaching a beginning student, you are teaching a beginner. You're not yet teaching a competitor or a bandsman. Make the reed easy. Very easy. As easy as necessary so that they can blow it with a LITTLE effort. If you don't have the reedcraft needed to do that, you shouldn't be teaching.

It doesn't matter (at this stage) whether the sound is optimal. What matters is that the student can play without hurting themselves and isn't teaching themselves a bunch of bad habits just to keep noise coming out of the instrument. When they first transition to bagpipes, students need to learn use the bag properly and to play with correct technique while managing the instrument. Within a few weeks, that extremely-easy reed may be replaced with a SLIGHTLY harder but ONLY when the student is ready for it.

I say this as someone who's been a reasonably successful pipe major of lower-grade (4 and 3) bands for a decade, and a lifelong player. It is absurdly common to be working with people who have NEVER played a bagpipe that's actually comfortable for them. I have yet to work with anyone who can't EVENTUALLY work up to a reed strength that is suitable for band and solo competition but you MUST meet people where they are. You can't just hand them a band-strength reed and say "get there." They won't, and you'll ruin their playing as they struggle with an instrument they can't blow. Teachers need to quit doing this!

When you start out on bagpipes, you ARE going to need to make a commitment: you're going to have to play for a reasonable amount of time EVERY DAY. It takes regular, consistent practice to build up the necessary physical skills. However, if your teacher tells you "sorry, you'll just have to hurt yourself for a while," find another teacher.
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Old 10-12-2019, 06:39 AM   #12
Jeffrey B.
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Join Date: Mar 2014
Location: maine
Posts: 63
Default Re: Getting back the saddle!

Dan is spot on, I cringe every time I hear a pipe teacher say you need to build up to at least a medium reed. I would never have stayed with pipes if I had listened to them. I was getting ready to give up, I then instead decided to go over my whole set up. I adjusted everything to the lowest pressure I could, starting with the chanter reed, I sanded them down until I could at least keep it going for a few minutes. I then adjusted the drone reeds to come on right before the chanter sounds. I also got the ergonomic mouth piece and have never turned back since. The more you tinker and adjust the more you learn about pipe set up. Pipe Hacker has a good E-book with pipe set up that explains a lot.
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Old 10-12-2019, 12:55 PM   #13
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Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: Airdrie, AB Canada
Posts: 48
Default Re: Getting back the saddle!

Have you been to a chiropractor or physiotherapist recently? Ruling out any previous injuries/deficits would provide a baseline to start from. Being active and physically fit makes playing easier, and no longer a fight. Is your lower back painful only during piping? If so, look to your setup; tight shoulders, pinched nerves, etc, are the result of a poorly setup instrument. Have a professional take a look at the ergonomics of your setup; bag size, positioning under the arm, blowpipe length, and chanter position. A proper instructor can also help select an appropriate reed, and set your drone reeds so that you have an instrument that is easy to play, and produces a balanced and enjoyable tone. Best of luck!
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Old 10-12-2019, 01:04 PM   #14
Forum Member - Shy or Quiet
Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: South Florida
Posts: 25
Default Re: Getting back the saddle!

This all makes very good sense. I致e actually been looking into Uilleann pipes for that reason. I left so discouraged. At the moment, I致e got a PC that I知 working on and I知 playing snare drum with the Ft. Lauderdale Highlanders. I知 a jazz Drumset performance major at the University. I値l keep doing that until I知 ready to jump back on pipes. I知 the meantime, I値l keep going on my chanter and give the Uilleann pipes a go. Thank you all!

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Old 10-14-2019, 11:28 AM   #15
Holy smoking keyboard!
Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: North America
Posts: 3,372
Default Re: Getting back the saddle!

Greetings, RudyInfante,

Happy to have you back in the mob!! :)

Just keep after it!! It will come!! :)

A thought occurs... not even a suggestion...
as all of your needful things to get tore back
into the playing... are entirely... your call...
but rather than the uilleann pipes... have
you considered... taking up a set of small,
three-drone practice pipes... that are now
rather widely available? (And many good
used sets at a good price. :)

They being the easier to find and maintain a
good breath pressure... and they let you know
when you've lost it... and one must still balance
the drones on the shoulder... whilst practicing
the marching... either in place... or about the
room... :)

As I said... just a thought...

Wishing you the Best of Good Fortune with it!! :)



My friends all know,
With what a brave carouse...

Last edited by Pip01; 10-14-2019 at 11:33 AM.
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Old 10-14-2019, 12:17 PM   #16
Forum Member - Shy or Quiet
Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: South Florida
Posts: 25
Default Re: Getting back the saddle!

Thank you!!!

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