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Uilleann, Northumbrian, Smallpipes + For all types of (non GH) Bagpiping discussions.

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Old 11-30-2016, 02:15 PM   #1
MichaelMontcombroux
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Default Northumbrian Pipes

If you are an experienced nsp player, what three pieces of advice would you give to someone transitioning to that instrument (but not from other pipes, I'm sorry to say) to point them in the right direction?

"Don't" is not an option, as my set is on order.
Thanks
Michael
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Old 11-30-2016, 05:34 PM   #2
daveboling
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Default Re: Northumbrian Pipes

The same as for many other instruments:
Set aside time to practice.
Get tuition (in person or Skype).
Be patient.

Good luck,

dave boling
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Old 11-30-2016, 07:21 PM   #3
Klondike Waldo
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Default Re: Northumbrian Pipes

I'd add some others-
1. don't muck with your reeds without proper guidance. NSP reeds aren't cheap- at least good ones aren't.

2. practice and listen to good pipers when you can't practice.

3. Look into the Northumbrian Pipers Society and the Bagpipe Society
for links to Northumbrian pipers in your area.
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Old 12-01-2016, 04:26 AM   #4
Rob_Say
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Default Re: Northumbrian Pipes

Quote:
Originally Posted by MichaelMontcombroux View Post
If you are an experienced nsp player, what three pieces of advice would you give to someone transitioning to that instrument (but not from other pipes, I'm sorry to say) to point them in the right direction?
An interesting question - I would normally tailor the advice to the person however there are some general principles that always apply and that I always emphasise as people start out on the NSP:
  1. Know (or Learn) what you're aiming for
  2. Get Comfortable
  3. One clean note is infinitely better than any number of fuzzy notes
That's a very simplistic list ... here's the sort of thing I mean:
1) There is a specific sound & feel that is the core of playing the NSP; different people have different inspirations - I would recommend listening to recordings including; Tom Clough, Joe Hutton, Cut & Dry, Chris Ormston, Andy May - something in one of those becomes your target. There are lots of other targets; some are less accessible / understandable but anyone who comes to me and says 'I heard this and I want to ..' based on that list is generally going to make progress.

2) Getting comfortable; good posture & positioning is essential to progress but it will take time. Bag positioning is critical and affects both wrists and fingers. Bellows technique has a similar impact on the right hand. Play in front of a mirror; think about how (public/pro) NSP-ers look, now treat the person looking back at you as a 'different' person to yourself; ... do you think that other person looks like a piper ... or have they more in common with a gargoyle perched under the eaves of a cathedral?

3) Clean notes - a lifetime of disappointment can be avoided by focusing on getting each note to start strongly, sound evenly and finish cleanly - all with relaxed hands. It establishes control and confidence and is the foundation of playing the instrument.

There are lots of tips and techniques to practice all of these things and lots of markers for progress in each. 'Knowing what your trying to get to' includes understanding of technique, repetoire, style & complexity - and it will change over time. 'Getting comfortable' is continous refinement and over time your develop a sense of awareness of how your set responds ... change chanter or reed (or weather) and the instrument changes. 'Clean Notes' is, whilst entirely true, a massive simplification of how to play each note on the chanter but also the keys, combinations of notes and a whole slew of available gracings.

Good luck with your NSP journey - I hope the wait list is not too long!

cheers

Rob
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Old 12-01-2016, 08:22 AM   #5
MichaelMontcombroux
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Default Re: Northumbrian Pipes

Thanks, friends, for the excellent advice. I have much to mull over while I wait. April is the promised date.
I appreciate your help. I have sneaky feeling that nsp players in these parts are thin on the ground, because people are thin on the ground, but one never knows.
Michael
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Old 12-03-2016, 12:28 PM   #6
Rob MacDonald
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Default Re: Northumbrian Pipes

I wouldn't worry about not having played other pipes before because you'll have less to 'un-learn'!

I have a wealth of articles and other resources to pass on to you if you would like.
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Old 12-03-2016, 03:06 PM   #7
Ian Lawther
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Default Re: Northumbrian Pipes

Check your private messages. There is a Northumbrian Pipers Society member in Winnipeg.
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Old 12-04-2016, 07:20 PM   #8
daj
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Default Re: Northumbrian Pipes

might be worth while investing in a plastic sopranino (octave above an alto or treble) recorder, the seven finger note is an F, the finger spacing will not be identical to your NSP but will give you an idea just how close it is, fingering is different too, but will get you used to putting your fingers close together, and they are ever so cheap...can also get high G whistles but they only have six holes, no back hole...and can be dreadfully shrill.....
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Old 12-05-2016, 01:43 AM   #9
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Default Re: Northumbrian Pipes

Quote:
Originally Posted by daj View Post
might be worth while investing in a ... recorder ... whistle ...
Morning - Whilst it's worthwhile practising NSP repertoire on any instrument you already play, I would disagree with deliberately choosing recorders and whistles (especially if you currently play any wind instruments). There are two issues I have encountered with this approach:
  1. Closed Fingering - NSP fingering is a completely different paradigm to blow-y things and many people have to unlearn open fingering.
  2. Breathing - blow-y things use breath for articulation. None of these techniques apply to bellows blown NSP - in fact whistle players often have work on decoupling the 'winding' from the fingering. (Bellows stroke on the beat is not a good thing)

The counter argument is of course that there are many good NSP / Recorder players - the late Neil Smith comes to mind.

cheers

Rob
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Old 12-05-2016, 01:33 PM   #10
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Default Re: Northumbrian Pipes

a) Learn to work the bag and bellows first. Close all but one drone, pick a note on the chanter, and practice until you can keep a steady note coming out of it. Then learn to do it with two drones going. Only then should you start working on fingering. (BTW, when you get your new pipes, this advice will be impossible to follow, because you just can't wait to actually play them. We know!)
b) Start learning to play the chanter with at most one drone going. Many of us still practice or learn new tunes this way; it's not cheating. When you get more comfortable with a tune, then you can add another drone or two.
c) Good single-malt scotch.

Alec
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