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Old 01-11-2015, 12:34 AM   #1
Bish
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Default Getting boys onto the pipes from chanter

Any advice on moving boys aged between 12 and 15 onto the pipes? Any comments on building strength and stamina? How do school bands do it?
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Old 01-11-2015, 01:12 AM   #2
PHXpiper
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Default Re: Getting boys onto the pipes from chanter

I'm still pretty new to piping, so take this with a grain of salt, but my instructor's method is to cork the chanter stock and have students blow drones as long as they can. When you have the endurance to go for ~30 minutes, you get to add the chanter.
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Old 01-11-2015, 02:28 AM   #3
donmacn
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Default Re: Getting boys onto the pipes from chanter

just for what it might be worth.

My son seemed to struggle a little at just that stage. I took the view that it was both the strength of the chanter reed, and the mechanics of introducing a bag.

I happened to have a "practice pipe" or whatever it's called, from bagpipes galore in Edinburgh.

I put him to work on that for just a day or so. Because it's so much easier to blow, it took the "strength" thing out of the equation temporarily and allowed him to focus on keeping the bag rythm going. Once he had a better idea of that, he quite quickly moved onto the pipe with corked drones.

Basically, I was following the instructing principle of trying to introduce new challenges and skills progressively.

This happened just as he was starting to play with a school band, but one where the instructor had little time on practice night for one on one support. Most of the kids in the band were getting instruction from him in school through the week. Through a personality quirk in my son's school, he wasn't but I was able to help him through that.

I get the impression the usual thing is just a weak chanter reed, and corked/stopped drones.

the other thing I've observed from watching the school band is how often it appears that kids are physically struggling (or seem to be) with a pipe that looks uncomfortable - bag too big, blowpipe too long or whatever. When he got to the pipes I also got my son one of the telescopic/adjustable blowpipes, and a smaller bag. I don't like the look of those blowpipes myself personally, but they served a purpose for him, allowing him to stand and play in a more comfortable stance.

Just my personal experience fwiw.
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Old 01-11-2015, 05:20 AM   #4
el gaitero
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Default Re: Getting boys onto the pipes from chanter

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bish View Post
Any advice on moving boys aged between 12 and 15 onto the pipes? Any comments on building strength and stamina? How do school bands do it?
I use a fully reeded set up from the git go; cork (any) two drones initially; make certain they are correctly seated and efficient. Add another drone when 1 is 'mastered'.
Don't swallow the blowstick or 'chase' it to the left... keep head erect, keep looking straight ahead, mouthpiece centered.

Impress on each kid ...it's up to them to do this... it's what they said they wanted to do;...and you'll help/show them all the way ;
..but pay attention (...dammit!)
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Old 01-11-2015, 08:51 AM   #5
12cmgc
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Default Re: Getting boys onto the pipes from chanter

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I use a fully reeded set up from the git go; cork (any) two drones initially
In my beginner phase, that's what my instructor/band did at the time.
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Old 01-11-2015, 09:53 AM   #6
el gaitero
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Default Re: Getting boys onto the pipes from chanter

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Originally Posted by 12cmgc View Post
In my beginner phase, that's what my instructor/band did at the time.
sure...it (should) usually only take a few hours at most to get the the hang of it and have all three drones going and look quasi-like they enjoy playing.
Drone valves help newbies. It's all uphill progress from there,.. getting steadier blowing, etc.

Something I do try to impress on the kids is...ALWAYS...upon taking the pipe out of the case...BE CERTAIN to immediately set the tenors and bass approx. where they need to be so right off the bat they sound nearly like they should when they start to play. Not a bad time right off to start embedding fine tuning pointers.
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Old 01-11-2015, 07:58 PM   #7
Jim Fogelman
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Default Re: Getting boys onto the pipes from chanter

When I was teaching a school pipe band, I would get the kids going on pipes as quickly as possible.

They went with just chanter and blocked drones for a while; sometimes for the entire first year. I was more concerned with getting them playing tunes and keeping them interested in playing.
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Old 02-10-2015, 12:34 PM   #8
Bish
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Default Re: Getting boys onto the pipes from chanter

Update: The boys are playing four tunes on the pipes now, chanter only, no drones. (They also spend time every now and then on drones only for steadiness). Fingers have suddenly improved a whole lot, as well as stamina, and two boys can play three tunes on the trot on pipes with chanter only. Time to open up a drone.

The boy who was lagging behind has had a burst of improvement caused I think by excitement at learning the Glasgow City Police Pipers, and his stamina if anything has overtaken the two others.
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Old 02-20-2015, 04:19 AM   #9
classicbagpipes
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Default Re: Getting boys onto the pipes from chanter

Jim F.,
I know the late Sandy Keith in Dunedin, FL. used the same basic technique of getting the new pipers onto the pipes asap, after they had learned a few tunes. And for the same reasons, develop them quickly and keep the interest level up with the newbies. So it was with corked drones and chanters so they could get a grasp of the basics.
I have always said that aside from getting ones fingers to wiggle properly and in the right order, the next biggest step is moving onto the full pipe itself.
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