Here is a performance by the Vale of Atholl Pipe Band playing “Steam Train to Mallaig,” a highlight of their 1996 concert CD release “Live n’Well.” Once upon a time, piping folk would pilgrimage to the pre-Worlds concert in Motherwell, Scotland, long before Piping Live! and the classy digs of the Royal Glasgow Concert Hall.
We’ve all had them. Memory lapses while playing. You hit the third part of your march and draw a blank. An inability to recall the start of a tune you want to play. How do you overcome those moments and what can you do to make sure they never happen?
Playing Highland bagpipes is a physical experience. To become better players, we often work to develop the the physical mechanics of playing the instrument. But how many pipers think that working out our brains can make us better players as well?
The World Pipe Band Championships is the ideal venue to hear pipe bands at their best. Bands build their performances throughout the year to peak at just the right time in August so that all things fall into place for Glasgow Green. So, how do the judges pick winners?
Do you record your bagpipe practices and/or performances? Recording is essential for the musician. Not doing so is kind of like a painter finishing a canvas and then burning it after the last brush stroke, never to see it again. Why would you do that?
“I Can’t Get My Bass Drone in Tune.”Tuning a bass drone can be troubling indeed for many new pipers. You may be at a point where you are able to “lock in” your tenor drones quite well, but you always seem to take a long time with the bass. You spend a ridiculous amount of time trying to get it “right,” making you want to toss your pipes into the fire. Don’t do that. It’s going to be OK.
The last fifteen years or so have seen an explosion of synthetic drone reed makes out on the market. The modern Highland bagpiper is not at a loss when choosing a make of reed that is suitable to personal bagpipe vintage or sound taste.