A bagpipe intensive weekend is often a great way to jump start your season. There are weekend workshops offered across the US in the first quarter of the year. Typically, the workshop will give you up to six sessions. You’ll go over a march in one, a strathspey and a reel in another, and one will surely cover a piobaireachd. Add a few sessions on maintenance and competition tips and you’ve got one productive weekend.
On the downside, you won’t be picking the tunes you’ll go over. And they may or may not be appropriate for your skill level. Also, you’ll be with a mixed skill group, so the teacher will need to slow down to the lowest level in the group. If you’re at the lowest level in the group, the instructor may not slow it down quite enough for you to keep up. You’ll probably feel guilty for holding the rest of the group back, too. The cost will usually be fairly steep as well, including hotel room, travel, and meals.
Here’s an idea for an alternative solution: A DIY Dojo Virtual Weekend Workshop. Choose a weekend where you can devote a full day and a half, just like you would spend while attending one of those other workshops. Choose up to six courses—two each for Saturday morning, Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning. Choose across idioms (MSR playing; piobaireachd). This time, you get to pick the tunes you’ll be reviewing in your sessions. And if you don’t get it the first time, you can rewind and go over it again! Add a session on maintenance and another on tuning and you’ve got a super productive weekend planned. The cost for all of this? A maximum of $30 (monthly membership). Hotel cost, $0 (you get to sleep in your own bed). Travel, $0 (no lost time away from home). As an added bonus, you have full access to repeat your classes as needed, or schedule another, similar workshop down the road.
Then, take all that money saved from that weekend workshop away, and meet with your piping buddies on Saturday night for a ceilidh. Or more sensibly, take your significant other out to a nice dinner as a thanks for allowing you the time to follow your passion!