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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.

The "Sweet Spot" Explained

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Has your Pipe Major or instructor ever told you to “blow tone” or “blow steady” but never really explained what those terms mean or how to make them happen?

Why You Should Care about the "Pitch-Time" Continuum

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Do you know pipers who take their pipes out of the bag, put the drones together, and start playing without taking any time to “warm” them up? Unfortunately, the resulting sound is enough to make anyone dislike the sound of the pipes. But even if we play the pipes for a few minutes before tuning, how many of us have a deep understanding of reasons behind warming up?

How to Hemp a Joint That Will Last for Years

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Do you find yourself constantly adjusting the snugness of the joints of your drones’ tuning pins, or the joints where the drones enter the stocks, or your chanter joint? Wouldn’t it be nice to have joints and tuning pins so well hemped that little time at all is needed to make needed minor adjustments?

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.