Arla Ridley: Drinking In The Soul Music

I have always had a little voice in my head when I heard bagpipes playing that said "I want to learn to play the bagpipes someday." I have always wanted to learn how to pipe and how I have the opportunity to set my soul free when I play. I was born to play the pipes and am so happy that I finally took the step to start.

My goal as a piper is to play the music that calls to my soul. I want to play the pipes and enjoy my own music. And if others enjoy it as well, that is a bonus.

When I hear bagpipes, either live or recorded, it lifts my spirits, I feel my soul drink in the music and I become happy with the experience.

My key struggle has been finding enough time to practice as much as I want. Transitioning to the pipes was challenging at first, but I took the month long course to help me through that process.

I am an older beginner, and my hands are needing to learn the finger positions and how to get faster. And my biggest challenge has been the birl!

My heart sings when I practice; I was born to play the pipes. I wish I had started earlier in life, but that doesn't matter, I will make the most of the time I have to learn, improve and enjoy this.

I think the Dojo community is a great place. I have met other pipers who are so supporting, the teachers are amazing and interested in my piping progress. Several of the teachers commented when I was gone from classes for about two months. I felt like I was part of a family of pipers.

I have been encouraged, taken the bagpipe makeover intensive course, which really increased my confidence and interacting with other pipers who don't think I am crazy for wanting to learn to play the pipes. (probably because they are crazy like me!)

I started the process of transitioning to play the pipes about a year ago. My pipe teacher helped as much as possible, but we have not been able to have in person lessons. When I took the Bagpipe Makeover course, I realized I was further along in the process that I had realized and it gave me the confidence to play and practice more on the pipes.

I love playing on the pipes, even though I still have so much to learn and practice.

I am so proud of my progress in playing the bagpipes. I started learning August 2020 and I bought my pipes in October 2020. Last October I took the Bagpipe Makeover course and felt confident enough to play Christmas tunes for my family for our Christmas gathering.

Dojo University has supported my piping journey from the beginning! I entered the Summer Online competition as part of team Dojo in the beginner practice chanter category. I had been practicing the practice chanter for just one year. I took 2nd place in the Slow Air event, 3rd place in the 2/4 March event, 3rd place in the 3/4 March, and 1st place in the 6/8 March.

I attribute my success to three things: My bagpipe teacher, my commitment to practicing my pipes regularly and my participation at the Dojo University.

I was super happy with those results and when I looked over the overall placement for everyone in the competition, I placed 15th overall in the world. I just about fell out of my chair when I saw my name.

Arla Ridley, Washington, USA

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