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Which Comes First, The Solo Tune or The Band Set?

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Overwhelmed with many piping projects?  Are you trying to balance solo tunes, band sets, Dojo tunes, and life?  How do you prioritize what’s most important?

Carl and Andrew address this common issue with suggestions that can help all pipers get focused to work on what is most important.

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Video Transcription:

Andrew:
Lou has a large workload. Specifically, he's got Dojo classes, he's got tune of the week, he's got weekly band practice, new and old tunes, and he's learning tunes for the Dojo U Cruise and maybe he's going to learn a competition tune. Carl, how do you handle such a workload like that? Ready, set, go.

Carl:
All right. That's a great question. I don't have it with me, but maybe Andrew can hold it up. The best way to handle a big workload is to get organized, I mean, really organized. To that point, the Dojo U planner could be a good point. I'm not just trying to sell it, it really would be helpful.

Andrew:
It's hard to try to sell the planner, because it's free.

Carl:
Right. Here's the thing, Lou. You don't need to practice every tune every day, but you probably want to practice your competition tunes Monday and Wednesday and Friday and then maybe band tunes on Tuesday and Thursday, but you don't want to try to keep track of that day to day. You want to get that planned out ahead of time so that you're working consistently to make progress. Of course, one of the most important things you need to do every day is play your bagpipes for at least five minutes. That needs to be at the top of the list, right? Play your pipes every day. That's one of the best things you can do to improve.

If you get busy and everything else falls by the wayside, at least you've done five minutes on the pipes. That does a huge amount of good for your playing. I guess to summarize here, the most important thing is to get organized, I mean, highly organized. You're right, you can't work on everything you listed there in one day. You're going to burn out too quickly. We got to get better organized here and have a steady rotation of things that you work through every day, every week in a cycle until you cover all the basics.

Andrew:
I have further thoughts on that. Number one is, especially as a beginner or an intermediate, especially as somebody who has a lot of other things going on, consolidate. Consolidate would be one thing I would add. The competition tune question mark, okay, pick a band tune or a Cruise tune or a Dojo tune of the week or something like that, but pick something that will work in both spaces. All right, for example, I have a local grade three band and I tell them all the time, "Just use the band MSR in the solos." There's a big stigma about the idea that there's this big difference in style between how you're going to play tunes in the band versus how you would play them in solo competition. Maybe there's a shred of truth to that. Okay, but it's only a shred and it's worth just putting that aside so that you can actually get the work done by consolidating material, if you can.

Then, the next tip I would give is just prioritize. Of all the stuff you have to do, what is the most important? I'll give you a hint, Cruise tunes are not the most important, right? You do not have to sound like a professional piper when you get on the Cruise, having all the stuff memorized, you just don't. I know people are ignoring what I'm saying because they're all uptight and they feel the need to stress out about a Cruise, but you don't have to. Get familiar, do your best without stressing out on the Cruise tunes.

Then, the competition tune question mark, hopefully you can consolidate that with some of your band tunes and now you can just let the band tunes be the top priority, so whatever you do practice, generally speaking, you work on a little bit of the band tunes, followed by a little bit of the Dojo tunes, followed by a little bit of the Cruise tunes and then that's your priority list. The worst case scenario is on a day where we don't have much time. The worst case scenario is that you don't get to work on the Cruise tunes and maybe you don't get to work on the Dojo tune of the week, but you've still done the really important thing, you know what I mean? Something like that.

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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

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