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Bagpipes Are Not For The Faint of Heart


Why do you play bagpipes?  Is it because they draw a crowd?  Is it for the mental challenge?

What do two professional pipers think about this? Andrew and Carl discuss what draws them to play bagpipes.

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Video Transcription:

Scott says, just he's rambling here, "The bagpipes are not for the faint of heart. They challenge the person to let go of any fear or timidness. It's a challenge that you have to face head on and let go. Thoughts?"

I think that's why we do it.

Sure. I mean, I think certainly.  For the faint of heart, for my perspective anyway, we're talking more about the fact that this is just really a freaking loud instrument and it draws attention really easily. It shouldn't be that the bagpipes are a harder instrument than anything else. I don't think either of us believe that. It's as hard as any other instrument, you have to practice. That's about it, you have to practice. From the aspect of, yeah, if you're a little timid or you have a fear of going out and playing in front of people, the bagpipes is going to be a challenge that way, because everyone is drawn to it. It carries, it travels. It's an amazing instrument for that reason. Yeah, I agree, that's why we do it. That's why I do it.

Yeah. To me, this question points to the philosophical qualities of trying to play the bagpipes and, as Bert was saying in the chat here, the mental game of playing the pipes. The pipes have a great way of just smacking you down just right out of nowhere. Really, you do have to really be able to be stoic about this. It's like, sometimes the conditions are just not right for playing the pipes. People ask me that all the time, "How do I keep my pipes from getting wet in the cold?" You don't, man.

Just stop, you can't. There is no way to do it. There is no way to do it that's good. Even if you can do it, your hands are going to be freezing cold, so it'll be impossible to produce your best fingerwork in the cold. It's just not a thing. One day, you wake up and your bagpipe has a giant hole in it. Your pipes might be going great and then suddenly your stock pipes pops out of your bag. It really forces you to take an all-in approach and you have to be able to take the good with the bad. It's an amazing thing like that. It makes a guys like Callum Beaumont and Jack Lee, it makes you really appreciate the fact that they're playing at that level and they do that so regularly. It's not just magic. They go through countless epic failures constantly in order to get to that level.

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Andrew Douglas Andrew is a prolific practitioner of the bagpipe, having been active at the highest level of pipe bands, solo competition, teaching, and creative endeavors for the past 20 years. He's also the founder and creator of Dojo U and of PipersDojo.com