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Develop the Practice Habit
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Develop the Practice Habit

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What is the most difficult aspect of learning bagpipes or pipe band drumming? It’s not the music and it’s not playing or maintaining the instrument. It is practicing or, building the habits to practice.

A good practice session can take many forms. But having a good practice is different than the impulse to practice. For that, you will need to build the discipline to get you going it in the first place. Part of this requires developing the proper mindset and building habits that just happen without much thought or effort. Use the five “tricks” below to keep yourself habitually motivated for consistent practice.

  • Explore the music. Listen to recordings. Play around with tunes. Don’t be afraid to simply “make noise” every now and then. The idea is to instill (and keep) an excitement and love for making music.
  • Practice with a group. The social interaction of pipe band rehearsal is an excellent motivator for practice. If you are already familiar with the band scene, find a few piping or drumming friends and carve out some practice time together to play around.
  • Stay connected. Keep up the friendships you form with pipers and drummers from different regions. Get in touch with the piping community by learning the ins and outs of your home piping and drumming organization or become involved in organizing piping events in your area.
  • Keep the instrument handy. Piping and drumming is often jokingly referred to as an addiction. Well, this is one addiction that should be indulged at all times! Don’t store the pipes or practice chanter away after you play them. Leave your instrument and your music out and always within reach for a quick blast or toot. Before long, you won’t be able to stop yourself.
  • Don't make practice a chore. Sometimes making the time to practice can feel like making time to do laundry. When that happens, it’s time to figure out activities for yourself to make practice more fun. Yes, fun. These days there is no shortage of software and tools (much of it free) to help you record your playing and that will allow you to create a personal CD of your tunes. Put on a recital for family or friends. Run a session. All of these will give you an opportunity to practice by stretching your musical muscle and get you working toward your personal best.

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Vince Janoski Vin is a long-time piper based on the east coast of the USA. He has been on the Executive Committee of the EUSPBA and been the editor of the acclaimed Voice magazine. Recently, he has played in the Grade 1 Oran Mor Pipe Band, and the Grade 1 Stuart Highlanders pipe band. He currently produces the websites Pipehacker.com and WhiskyTunes.com.... And, needless to say, he spends way too much time than is allowed for any one person playing, writing about, and thinking about bagpiping.

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