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When did you know that you loved the pipes?

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  • When did you know that you loved the pipes?

    Hello, fellow students!

    I've just come into a state of newly broken, lacerated F-finger situation with a hopeful recovery. And I was emotionally surprised, not having cried for at least a decade, that tears would roll down my cheeks with just the thought that I might never play the bagpipes, as has been my dream. Only now, with this unfortunate incident, do I know that I must love them.

    When did you know that you loved the bagpipes?
    “Where’s my beer?”

  • #2
    After taking evening bagpipe lessons for a few weeks at the prompting of my wife, my instructor (Jay Salter) said he would play the pipes for us. I had not heard them in adulthood and don't recall ever hearing a really well tuned set. He took us from the smaller music room where the lessons were being held at Santa Cruz High School to the larger music room. He pulled out his set of 1970s-era Hardies and tuned them up. Then he performed the ground/urlar of a piobaireachd—Duncan MacRae of Kintail's Lament, if I recall correctly. Oh, the resonance! It was like magic. It was at that moment that I said to myself, "I'm going to learn to play these!"

    That was about a quarter century ago. Little did I know I'd go on to host a gold medalist in my living room (Jimmy McColl) on two separate occasions, sit at a group dinner table with PM David and Shaunna Hilder, get introduced to Bill Livingstone by Colin MacLellan, meet Alasdair Gillies, meet Roddy MacLeod and Richard Parkes and have them already know who I was from my website, enjoy a small house concern featuring Fred Morrison, have Ken Eller ask for his photo with me—talk about backward! Serving as Executive Secretary for WUSPBA and meeting all kinds of folks, helping run an ANAPBA meeting and meeting the movers and shakers of the various North American pipe band associations.

    And, heck, been on the BDF moderator team here with a great group of people for two decades.

    It's been an amazing ride! I have no regrets taking up the pipes!!

    Andrew T. Lenz, Jr. • BDF Moderator
    BagpipeJourney.com - Reference for Bagpipers


    • #3

      Ah... Billy Boy... First!!...Wishing You the Best of Good
      Fortune!!... with the successful healing of your wounds...
      and... your careful... at first... re-entry into the playing!!

      But to your question... my Dad brought home a record
      of some Scots Regiment Pipe Band... when I was about
      four... played it in our living room that day... and I have
      been ass over tea kettle submerged... in the love... of
      those sounds... ever since!!

      The other early major emphasis... as a lad... was our
      going to the cinema... to see the military-based films...
      and in which there were pipes and pipe bands playing
      in some of the scenes.

      I was completely captivated!!... entirely enthralled!!...
      and... quite happily... hooked!!

      And alas... since that first... major downfall... it has all
      only become... the greater!!

      Ah... The Tussle... and...The Great Waltz-About... with
      The Great Beast... has been both a well-loved curse...
      and a much-loved cure... for these now many... and long
      Times since!! ("World Without End!! Amen!!")

      The places it has taken me!!... and the truly grand friends
      that I have come to know... and to cherish... are now far
      too many to number... and the glow of the Time... that I
      have spent in their company... and the many things learned
      from them there... are far too bright... for me to adequately

      Trusting that yours shall be a Happy Recovery!!... and that
      your re-entrance into the playing... shall be with both Joy...
      and... with Ease...

      And now... wishing for you... All the Best!!,


      Last edited by Pip01; 04-26-2021, 07:29 PM.
      My friends all know,
      With what a brave carouse...


      • #4
        I was about twenty when I first heard the pipes played in person. I had heard so many disparaging jokes/remarks about pipes that, when my mother who was music director of a heavily Scottish church at the time invited me to join her for a special service with dancers and a piper, I accepted in order to spend time with Mom but didn't hold high expectations of the entertainment. Was I blown away!! That music was wonderful and such a change from what I'd grown up hearing. Several years later I learned of a concert at Macalester College in the Twin Cities called Piping Hot. It was all bagpipes (12-13 different kinds!!) with no Highland pipes. Again, I was bowled over with the rich variety of sounds but all with that delicious double reed/drone combination!! I knew I was in love from that point on.
        I'm glad you have found the love of the pipes and pray that you will experience excellent healing so you can continue with your piping adventures!!


        • #5
          Late 1950's. My mother was a Scot. My two brothers and I were under foot at times. Imagine that! So in order to get us out of the kitchen, mom would put on an old LP of the Scots Guards, march us out into another part of the house, give us all little sticks, and we'd march around like little drum majors to the sounds of the regimental pipes and drums, after which time the album would be turned. I only wish she'd lived long enough to hear me play for her. Who knows, maybe she has.


          • #6
            Thank you all for sharing your love of the pipes. You've helped me through a very troubling time of my life.

            An update from the original post: my meeting with the plastic surgeon gave encoraging news. My F-finger will survive my accident, and I may attempt to play the chanter with all fingers again in two month's time. The doctor said that I was very lucky.

            Now, sadly, I'll have no good excuses for my lousy playing

            Billy Boy
            “Where’s my beer?”


            • #7
              That is great news!! I'm so glad all your digits have come through and pray that your return to piping will go well.


              • #8
                Originally posted by johnsog
                That is great news!! I'm so glad all your digits have come through and pray that your return to piping will go well.
                Billy Boy!!,

                I'll give... a strong second... to that!!

                Slow and easy... shall best... get you through... and
                while that Old Rascal Time... may seem to drag by...
                you can quite easily continue... your training... by
                listening... to records and cds... and keeping Time...
                to the Music!!

                In our case... the ear... often permeates... the heart!!...
                and informs... the fingers!!

                Just keep after it!!

                All the Best!!

                Last edited by Pip01; 05-13-2021, 07:13 AM.
                My friends all know,
                With what a brave carouse...


                • #9
                  Thanks, fellas!!

                  With six weeks remaining for full F finger recovery to go, I've embraced the opportunity to practice my bottom hand with F hole taped over. Perfect opportunity for much needed work on my D grace note scale, as well as E, GDE, D throws and birls, of course.

                  Yes, because there's so much to learn, there's (happily) always something to do. Reading this forum is a big boost in the hope department, for which I thank you all. Also, watching the videos of Allan Hamilton's 'Piper's Persuasion' is a fine introduction to the piping world, something to look forward to, spur me onwards. Thank you, sir!
                  Last edited by Billy Boy; 05-13-2021, 09:09 AM.
                  “Where’s my beer?”