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Old 08-28-2016, 09:05 PM   #21
David
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Default Re: Teaching myself? What practice chanter? Need advice.

Eveyone here probably agrees that, in theory, learning to play the pipes on one's own can be done. We all know best practices and typical pitfalls. The point is that it mostly doesn't work, in the real world.

Savant syndrome is rare. As is autodidactism in theoretical physics and Highland piping.

Mentors were and are crucial in music, and many other areas.
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Old 08-29-2016, 10:52 AM   #22
Doug Walton
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Default Re: Teaching myself? What practice chanter? Need advice.

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Originally Posted by 9 note Tex View Post
Yes you can teach yourself. I did. I too am in North Texas and the closest instructor is over 100 miles away. I knew a little about Skype but decided to try teaching myself first. If you can get a good instructor, in person or via Skype, you will probably learn faster and avoid bad habits but yes you can do it. Having a musical background and being able to read music is really a must if you are going to try it. Here's what I would do. Get a good practice chanter. Don't even think about buying a set of pipes yet. I recommend Bagpipe Solutions and the College of Piping Green book. YouTube is very helpful. Start there. Pay very very careful attention to every detail and do not go on until you master a skill in the Bagpipe Solutions. Go SLOW and use a metronome. I would play an exercise at the slowest tempo until I could master it error free, then increase the tempo say 5 beats and try again. Record, record, record. Record yourself both video and audio. You can verify what you are doing and catch yourself doing something wrong. I can't emphasize enough, record yourself. If you follow the Bagpipe Solutions you will know the appropriate time to buy a set of pipes. Do not "wing it" and play by ear. It won't work. But if you take it slow and pay close attention to every detail you can do it. Know exactly where time is taken from for each embellishment. Know where each grace note of every embellishment falls in relation to the beat. Later on you can work on the physics of sound. How to adjust chanter reeds and drone reeds to get the appropriate sound. Good luck. Again, an instructor is going to be the best way to go but if you want to teach yourself, it can be done.
I'd love to see a video - previously I did not think the self-teaching thing could be done with a good outcome.
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Old 08-29-2016, 11:45 AM   #23
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Default Re: Teaching myself? What practice chanter? Need advice.

It would really depend how you judged "Good Outcome" Personally, I've only come across self taught people who were competent at best, and I'm only thinking of two people. Not Good... Competent, and only just.

Anyway, the other part of the question was, do you buy a practice chanter, and/or a sort of goose/practice pipe.

Practice chanter is all you need. Only my opinion, but those practice pipes are toys. They don't sound very good at all, and won't enhance your learning. Save your money. You could always spend the extra saved on lessons.
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Old 08-29-2016, 12:51 PM   #24
longwind
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Default Re: Teaching myself? What practice chanter? Need advice.

Teaching myself bagpipes without a teacher would have been like defending myself in court without a lawyer.
When I wanted to learn the pipes, I went to Scotland for several years to do it. There is more to the music than can be found in books. Just my opinion!
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Last edited by longwind; 08-29-2016 at 12:58 PM.
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Old 08-29-2016, 01:05 PM   #25
CelticHiker
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Default Re: Teaching myself? What practice chanter? Need advice.

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I'd love to see a video - previously I did not think the self-teaching thing could be done with a good outcome.
I also started as a self-taught player with the Bagpipes Solutions books, and although I did eventually take up Skype Lessons, I never had to go back and unlearn anything or get rid of bad habits? I did attend a piping school 11 months after I started, and after reading all of the horror stories here about "self-taught" players, I was really dreading having to unlearn things. At the end of it, the instructor told me to keep doing what I was doing as it was obviously working?

A few years later, at the same piping school, a young kid from Wyoming showed up and blew everyone away. He was entirely self taught from listening to old records, and although he did somethings a bit oddly, it sounded correct and he had great tone. He actually learned a full Piobaireachd that week and competed with it at the end of the week. He didn't win, but he didn't come in last either?

So to say that it can't be done isn't true, but all of the cautions that usually follow that warning concerning all of the things that can go wrong are very much a danger, and if you can get an instructor, you should. If nothing else, it shortens the learning process and you don't even realize all of the possible pitfalls you are bypassing since they never have a chance to take hold and you can concentrate on getting better rather than worrying that you might be doing something wrong. And when you start counting the number of people who successfully taught themselves to play compared to the vast majority who think they taught themselves to play, its easy to understand where the perception that it can't be done comes from.

As a somewhat related aside, I actually played for John Cairns in a Grade II Piobaireachd competition in Canmore, AB, a few years ago. When I was done playing, I confirmed that he was the one that wrote the Bagpipes Solutions books and then thanked him for writing them as that was what I had learned from. The look of shock on his face was fairly humorous and we then discussed that I had been taking private lessons for a few years as well.
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Old 08-29-2016, 08:25 PM   #26
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Default Re: Teaching myself? What practice chanter? Need advice.

I can promise you from experience that learning by ear will have you getting the embellishments wrong often, and yes it does make a difference. You will also likely not see when you false finger. You may not be able to hear poor technique since some of that is only recognized by trained eyes/ears and may not be obvious why you don't sound quite right.
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Old 08-29-2016, 09:25 PM   #27
Bish
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Default Re: Teaching myself? What practice chanter? Need advice.

I taught myself in the late eighties, and had to relearn all the embellishments as a result. Had fun, but wasted much time. The bagpipe is not like the guitar, which I also self-taught, just like everyone else.

PM me for my opinion on where to find tutors.
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Old 08-30-2016, 01:05 AM   #28
David
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Default Re: Teaching myself? What practice chanter? Need advice.

Quote:
Originally Posted by CelticHiker View Post
I also started as a self-taught player with the Bagpipes Solutions books, and although I did eventually take up Skype Lessons, I never had to go back and unlearn anything or get rid of bad habits? I did attend a piping school 11 months after I started, and after reading all of the horror stories here about "self-taught" players, I was really dreading having to unlearn things. At the end of it, the instructor told me to keep doing what I was doing as it was obviously working?

A few years later, at the same piping school, a young kid from Wyoming showed up and blew everyone away. He was entirely self taught from listening to old records, and although he did somethings a bit oddly, it sounded correct and he had great tone. He actually learned a full Piobaireachd that week and competed with it at the end of the week. He didn't win, but he didn't come in last either?

So to say that it can't be done isn't true, but all of the cautions that usually follow that warning concerning all of the things that can go wrong are very much a danger, and if you can get an instructor, you should. If nothing else, it shortens the learning process and you don't even realize all of the possible pitfalls you are bypassing since they never have a chance to take hold and you can concentrate on getting better rather than worrying that you might be doing something wrong. And when you start counting the number of people who successfully taught themselves to play compared to the vast majority who think they taught themselves to play, its easy to understand where the perception that it can't be done comes from.

As a somewhat related aside, I actually played for John Cairns in a Grade II Piobaireachd competition in Canmore, AB, a few years ago. When I was done playing, I confirmed that he was the one that wrote the Bagpipes Solutions books and then thanked him for writing them as that was what I had learned from. The look of shock on his face was fairly humorous and we then discussed that I had been taking private lessons for a few years as well.
You make some good points. No one says "never" about self-learning. We say ALMOST never. Most of us who have taught for and length of time have had self-learners. Nearly all requiring retraining. Quite a few had, in fact, a short course or two or an occasional lesson. But genuine 100% on one's own is not typically successful. So we all know exceptions. Very, very few though. So we are here giving best advice based on collective experience. Exceptions prove little.
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Old 08-30-2016, 01:58 AM   #29
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Default Re: Teaching myself? What practice chanter? Need advice.

Not to be confrontational, but I'd like to see (or rather, hear) non-anecdotal evidence of a self taught piper who is successful.
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Old 08-30-2016, 04:49 AM   #30
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Default Re: Teaching myself? What practice chanter? Need advice.

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Not to be confrontational, but I'd like to see (or rather, hear) non-anecdotal evidence of a self taught piper who is successful.
You'd probably need to define what is meant by "successful" (play in front of lay audience, play in front of other pipers, win prizes, etc.).
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