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Mark Olson

Mark Olson
Mark Olson is a software engineer in Omaha, NE. Over the years, he has played numerous musical instruments including the bagpipes, guitar, piano, flute, and saxophone. As a young man, Mark competed as a solo piper. Due to the demands of raising a family, Mark had to forgo his musical pursuits. While he regrets the fact he gave up the bagpipes, he is proud of the fact that both of his sons have grown to be fine young men. With the nest now empty, he has picked up the pipes once again. If he gets his chops, and his groove, back, he plans to compete again as a solo piper.

Playing for an Accomplished Piper

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Your band is holding a master class with an accomplished piper. Your sitting at the table playing through your band set on your practice chanter with your bandmates. Your guest instructor invites individuals to play the tune by him or herself. What do you do?

To Be a Better Piper, Work on the Basics

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Listen to the Piper's Dojo Audio Experience, #206, Audio Lesson With Grade 3 Solo Competitor. You will note that, if we momentarily set aside the comments on tuning, Andrew's constructive criticisms revolve around the first five finger work fundamentals:
  1. Scale Navigation
  2. Basic Rhythm
  3. Gracenotes and Gracenote Quality
  4. Embellishments and Gracenote Quality
  5. Dot/Cuts (ALAP/ASAP)

"Are All Chanter Reeds the Same?"

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The short answer to the question is: "No."

"What Is ALAP? What Is ASAP?"

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ALAP and ASAP are acronyms. ASAP stands for As Long As [Musically] Possible (ALAP). ASAP stands for As Short As [Musically] Possible (ASAP). ALAP/ASAP is a method for learning and teaching “dot-cut” rhythms, dotted eighth notes followed by a sixteenth note, on the Highland Bagpipe.

How to Think, Part 2

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In Ed Boyden's ten rules on How to Think, he has two that are particularly applicable to our lives as pipers:

How to Think, Part 1

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When he applied for a job at the MIT Media Laboratory, Ed Boyden, the winner of the 2013 Brain Prize, had to write a teaching statement. One of his proposals was a class entitled “How to Think.”

Cultivate Your Work Ethic

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I work with a number if brilliant people. Many of them have an incredible understanding of theory and can posit ingenious arguments for why we should do something in a particular way. Many of them, however, could not work their way out of a paper bag if their life depended on it. While they have great intellect, the lack an important characteristic, work ethic. The really good people with whom I’ve worked are not the most brilliant. Many are not the sharpest tacks in the box. But they have one thing that separates them from the others, many of whom are far more brilliant thinkers. They have work ethic.

Preposterous: Tales to Follow - A Review

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Back in the 1970s, we thrived on basement tapes. It was a rare event when we would get to hear a great piper live in our little piping backwater.

Piping, You're Doing It All Wrong

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How did we get by before the internet was invented? With a bevy of blogs and social media sites, all manner of advice is not lacking on the internet and that advice often comes under the rather presumptuous heading, "you're doing it all wrong!" Apparently, we should feel bad about ourselves in just about everything. From tying your shoes to being a dad, the internet has no shortage of course correction for all of us. I was recently so horrified that I was applying deodorant incorrectly, that I had to hang my head in shame. You might assume, then, that I am going to admonish you that you are doing it all wrong in your approach to piping.