Home Media News & Blog Perfect Piping Begins by Making Your Bed—Part 1
Perfect Piping Begins by Making Your Bed—Part 1

Perfect Piping Begins by Making Your Bed—Part 1



Easy to talk about; hard to attain.

A piece of music can be executed perfectly when played slowly. The doublings can be rhythmically correct, the tempo steady, and not one noted is missed. A piece of music doesn’t need to be executed at a tempo that pushes the right edge of the metronome. Perfection can be attained as you work up the ladder.

Perfection, executing a piece of music correctly, can be attained through attitude and effort.

Consider retired Admiral, and current University of Texas Chancellor, William McRaven. McRaven started his career in the Navy by training with the Sea, Air, and Land (SEAL) Team. The SEALs are notorious for their pursuit of perfection and set incredibly high standards for themselves.

Admiral McRaven illustrated this pursuit of perfection in an address to the University of Texas graduating class. “Every morning in basic SEAL training, my instructors,” he stated, “would inspect…your bed. If you did it right, the corners would be square, the covers pulled tight, the pillow centered just under the headboard and the extra blanket folded neatly at the foot of the rack.”

“It was a simple task — mundane at best. But every morning we were required to make our bed to perfection. It seemed a little ridiculous at the time, particularly in light of the fact that were aspiring to be real warriors, tough battle-hardened SEALs, but the wisdom of this simple act has been proven to me many times over.”

McRaven stated that “if you make your bed every morning you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride, and it will encourage you to do another task and another and another.”

McRaven put this into context by stating, “if you want to change the world, start off by making your bed.”

If you put this into bagpiping terms, if you seek perfection in the first task of the day, then you will seek perfection in every task of the day. If you execute your first exercise in a practice session to perfection, then you will seek perfection in every exercise that you execute.

If your first exercise is G-D-E triplets from Low G to C, strive to start the exercise with a completely closed chanter. Execute each gracenote in an open and rhythmically correct manner. Make each transition clean and without any crossing noises.

And, if you don’t achieve perfection, “toss the mattress.” Correct the mistakes as you make them, make your gracenotes rhythmically correct, make the transition from note to note clean.

While perfection is a difficult ideal, it is attainable, especially when you play at slower tempos. But, achieving perfection is a mindset and you don't need to be a SEAL to attain it. If you approach your first task of the day and attempt to do it perfectly, whether it is making your bed or brushing your teeth, the you will, as Admiral McRaven observes, have a small sense of pride. If you, then, approach your first exercise in your practice session with the same zeal, attempting to play it perfectly, you will be encouraged to execute the next exercise, and the one after that, perfectly as well.

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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.