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John Holcombe

John Holcombe
John began piping at the ripe old age of 55 years. Always liking the sound of the bagpipes, John grew up in Oklahoma, where he never had a chance early on to experience firsthand this amazing instrument. But after moving to Indianapolis, he had the great fortune in 2004 to begin lessons with Craig Waugh, and Open Grade piper originally from Manitoba, Canada. Through that outstanding instruction, along with annual attendance at Jack Lee’s Piping Hot Summer Drummer and being a founding and continuing premium member of Dojo University, John has continued through hard work and determination to advance his knowledge and technical skills. As a retired research physician, John now enjoys immersing himself in piping, and he is proud to have won several first place medals in Grade 4 competitions in EUSPBA-sanctioned events. John’s current goal is to achieve the Grade 3 level of competence.

Room for Improvement

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Last April, 2016, I competed in a Grade 4 Adult (EUSPBA) event at the highland games in Dunedin, Florida, a true hotbed of piping in the Southeast United States. It had been raining heavily all morning, and I was due up in a large group for the 2/4 march competition, with Rab Mathieson as the judge.

Throw Away Your Bagpipe Tuner!

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Are you like many pipers who think that using an electronic tuner is the only way to get a great sound out of their bagpipe? Have ever told yourself that you simply don’t have “an ear” that is trained well enough to tune your own pipes?

How to Approach Doublings

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Have you ever been told that your doublings are “crushed” and that you need to “open them up”? Do you have difficulty with your doublings when coming from certain notes? If you answered yes to either question, perhaps it’s time to take a step back and review some key facts about doublings.

Crossing Noises: More Than You Might Want to Know

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If you are relatively new to piping, you might be trying hard at this point to eliminate crossing noises as you transition from one note to another. But even for more experienced pipers, a pesky crossing noise may find its way into our piping. Here are some thoughts on how to analyze and get rid of crossing noises.

How to Deal with Roadblocks in Your Piping

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Many consider the Great Highland Bagpipe to be one of the most, if not the most, difficult of instruments in the world to master.

How to Thread a Drone Reed Seat

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One of the biggest fears some pipers have is that one of their drone reeds will suddenly come out of its reed seat and fall into the pipebag, leaving you with no ability to play. If this ever happens, trust me here, it will occur during one of your most important performances. But there is a way to totally eliminate the possibility of a drone reed becoming dislodged, and that is to “thread” the reed seat using a commonly found tool.

How to Use a Metronome to Learn a Strathspey

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When you play a strathspey, does anyone ever tell you that it “sounds like a march”? Is it difficult to get the correct strathspey rhythm, no matter how many times you play through the same tune? One method of learning a strathspey correctly is to use a metronome from the outset, and hear your playing improve.

The Adult Learner

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Are you an adult learner? Have you ever wondered why it takes you such a relatively long time to learn a new tune, or to get an embellishment just right?

How to Use a Metronome to Learn a Reel

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In Scottish country dancing, the reel is one of the four traditional dances, the others being the jig, the strathspey and the waltz. A reel is in 4/4 time, but when written out, reels are most often written in a 2/2 time signature, also known as "cut time".