Andrew Lawrence: The Pipes Sound Cool!

I saw an advertisement for free lessons with a local band and decided to take them up on their offer

My original goals were to simply play as a back rank piper. As I learned the pipes, my appreciation of the body of celtic/scottish/irish music deepened. Because the pipes sound cool!

Initial struggles were putting it all together. I could work through some parts myself, but had limited access to information. Had to rely too much on other amateurs. If you want to learn to play golf, do you take lessons from the club pro, or do you get assistance from some 20-25 handicapper you met on the driving range?

My limiting beliefs were understanding the roadmap to success. I played other instruments from childhood through college, but with piping, the educational resources have been limited.

I took 17 years off due to military service. Getting started again was a bit frustrating. Limited resources in my area.

I heard about the Dojo doing online research about bagpipes. Was looking for additional instruction and an instructor and saw it mentioned on a discussion board.

It took a long time. I am a suspicious person by nature and am careful about online subscriptions.

The Dojo is a great place to be. I enjoy the breadth of resources. My work schedule usually prevents me from attending the classes, but I enjoy the ability to watch and rewatch as needed. If I need info about a topic it is usually somewhere in the Dojo. If not, I can ask on the discussion boards.

I had the opportunity to take the intensive course last fall and that helped me restart my piping. It was the combination of tailored assignments followed by face to face (online) instruction. Meeting with Glenn Brown was invaluable.

Before the intensive course, I worked with the manometer to improve steadiness but struggled. After coming home from work, I really didn't want to practice as it was fatiguing. During the intensive course we removed everything from the pipe bag, but I still struggled. Then it dawned on me to get an easy reed. Taking everything down to bare bones with an easy reed was a GAME CHANGER. Once that happened, everything fell into place. Steadiness has improved, pipe is easy to play, and I can work on improving my playing of the music. I now look forward to practice.

Learning tunes is easier now, in the aggregate. I now play slower and more focused. I'm no longer in a rush to get through passages.

I have much more confidence in my understanding of the instrument and ability to play it (don't tell my pipe major, but I know how to move my reeds if they need to be moved!). My ear for tuning has greatly improved and my pipes sound much better than they ever have.

Andrew Lawrence, Virginia, USA

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