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How to deal with noise?

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  • How to deal with noise?

    I've just started competing again and my most recent attempt went badly. One of the issues was that I was surrounded by other competitions in progress as well as pipe bands that were practicing. It was hard to hear and although I thought I had the pipes in tune, apparently the bass was sharp. Any suggestions other than experience to tune out the environment and tune in to your own instrument?

  • #2
    Re: How to deal with noise?

    One handy way of learning to perform with distractions is busking, where you never know what's going to happen.



    At home, put on the TV and radio, turn them up so you can hear them when you play, and get on with it (use hearing protection, please...). If you have small children around, ask them to shoot nerf guns or throw tennis balls at you while you play.



    A tuner is a very useful sanity check.
    http://www.callingthetune.co.uk
    -- Formerly known as CalumII

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    • #3
      Re: How to deal with noise?

      Ironically, wearing earplugs can help. Sometimes, reducing the decibel levels at your ear makes things that are farther away than your own instrument harder to hear (which is what you want).

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      • #4
        Re: How to deal with noise?

        Before you queue up for the judge, and are doing your warmup/tuneup, try to get away so you can accurately tune. If that's not possible, go tune by a reflective surface such as a wall, tent, or large panel truck/SUV.

        In the time you wait for your turn to play for the judge, keep blowing air gently into your pipes.

        Then, play an air/piob or whatever you play for tuning/warmup in front of the judge listening carefully for the set to come back into tune (or as close as you can expect them to). It wouldn't hurt to occasionally fake moving a drone, but don't.

        When the set comes into tune, play. If they only come close, that may be as good as you'll get in the environment you describe.
        "What we play is life." - Louis Armstrong

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        • #5
          Re: How to deal with noise?

          All good suggestions here. You will get used to it, within reason and in time. That said, everyone has good days and bad days. People often tell me that I do well with drone tuning, but some days, I just CAN'T get satisfied ... sometimes other players are nearby, sometimes not.

          Like anything though, improvement comes with practice. If you play with a pipe band, then utilize the individual warm up time when other pipers are playing on top of each other. Maybe even see if you can arrange to test this sort of thing with your instructor? Have your instructor or a fellow student tuning at the same time?

          If not, you might also try getting a recording of other piping (solo or band) playing in headphones while you attempt to tune your own drones. Then, you can also "check" yourself when you think you're done by stopping the recording.

          Dan's spot on ... the earplug trick has worked for me in the past ... and John's comment is also said. Against a wall is a powerful trick, and if you second guess yourself too much in front of the judge before starting, it's unlikely to go well.

          Keep at it!

          Cheers,
          ~Nate

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          • #6
            Re: How to deal with noise?

            What Dan Bell said...


            -J David Hester, PhD
            Alt Pibroch Club
            www.altpibroch.com

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            • #7
              Re: How to deal with noise?

              One word....’ focus’..... we’re there to compete and do our best...not listen to everybody else, blame anybody else, watch a girlfriend on the sidelines, think about how many min left on my data plan,...yada.

              Get ‘er done.... “ don’t think...it hurts the ballgame” ..Yogi.

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              • #8
                Re: How to deal with noise?

                All good suggestions. I always use earplugs, even outside. I like the idea of practising with a pipe band CD on in the background. I also like the idea of tuning them up in a relatively quiet place/wall and then just going for it. Talking to a judge a while back, he often feels people's tuning was better BEFORE they stepped up the boards, and they make it worse. Yes, it prolly needs practise. I was watching the Piping Live! Masters event and even the pros seem to take long time to tune, even in quiet conditions. But like Ppp tuning just doesn't want to take sometimes.

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                • #9
                  Re: How to deal with noise?

                  Originally posted by Dan Bell View Post
                  Ironically, wearing earplugs can help. Sometimes, reducing the decibel levels at your ear makes things that are farther away than your own instrument harder to hear (which is what you want).
                  Originally posted by John McCain View Post
                  ...try to get away so you can accurately tune. If that's not possible, go tune by a reflective surface such as a wall, tent, or large panel truck/SUV.

                  In the time you wait for your turn to play for the judge, keep blowing air gently into your pipes.

                  Then, play an air/piob or whatever you play for tuning/warmup in front of the judge listening carefully for the set to come back into tune (or as close as you can expect them to). It wouldn't hurt to occasionally fake moving a drone, but don't.

                  When the set comes into tune, play. If they only come close, that may be as good as you'll get in the environment you describe.
                  Both of these. I've just reentered competition this year as well, and struggled with that the first half of the year - particularly with my bass drone. My solution ended up being (1) rough tuning away from the fray before playing, (2) blowing warm air through my pipes while waiting to go up, (3) playing with decent musicians' earplugs in to deaden the ambient noise, and (4) taking a minute to play a slow air that hits all notes on the scale to settle in / not being afraid to take a some time to get my drones as close to dead in as I can get them. Seems to be working so far.
                  -Steve

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                  • #10
                    Re: How to deal with noise?

                    I always try to practice with noise around while im tunning. Its nice to practice in the quite where I can hear everything very well, but that is rarely the case on the day of a contest.
                    The better you can replicate the conditions on the day of while you're practicing the more consistent and comfortable you will be on the day of your contests.

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                    • #11
                      Re: How to deal with noise?







                      Piping Potential,

                      Good to have you back.

                      And as you've said... it's a tough go...

                      And... and as with all else... in The Piping Game...
                      it's just a matter of becoming able... to get "settled in"...
                      and then letting the music... carry you along... and quite
                      irrespective... of what ever else... may be afoot...

                      Wishing for you the very Best of Good Fortune with it!!

                      Pip01






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

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