Brett Radcliff: Man, I Want To Do That

I have always loved the sound of the bagpipes. When I did some genealogical research for my family, I found that we have a huge amount of Scottish heritage. So, I decided to give my dream a try.

Being a former police officer, playing memorials at services was my goal, as well as playing with a pipe and drum band. Seeing a piper in full-dress military regalia playing started my heart racing. I thought "Man I want to do that."

Understanding rhythm has been difficult for me to get solid. Playing melodies correctly at the full tempo is a great challenge. I would say all the time "I can't get it right", and " Man I suck at this".

I knew it was going to be hard. Initially, I found an ad for a bagpipe planner to track your process. After receiving the planner, I was trying to learn it on my own for about two months with books and videos, but then I tried a free month membership at the Dojo.

The Dojo is a great community, the support from the staff and the members is why it works so well. The Dojo has helped with all aspects of my piping journey. My understanding of rhythm is much better, understanding of sheet music and melody's is much better.

When I started out with a band the reed was too hard for me to blow. My pipes were difficult to play for more than two or three tunes. Now I use the correct strength of reed and have set my drone reeds to the proper calibration. My pipes are easier to play now, and tuning is much easier now. I understand what is happening with my pipes. The more I tune my pipes the more I done better and faster. I use the tune building technique on all the tunes I am learning now. My scale navigation, hole coverage has improved, and my crossing noises have lessened greatly.

I feel very proud of what I've accomplished on my bagpipe journey. My friends and family love what I've done.

Recently a young lady at my work, was leaving to go off to college. She asked me to bring in my pipes and play for her on her last day. So, I did and she and everyone else loved it. I played several times during the day and one of these times a customer was listening to me and when I stopped, the customer approached me and asked me how long I had been playing the pipes. I told her I had started two years ago. She stated that she was an orchestra trained musician and played four instruments. She was amazed that I played what she called "the hardest instrument to learn" that well in only two years. I told her that I take lessons online almost every day and I had only three in person lessons with my Pipe Major in that time. She simply stated that whatever I was doing was working WELL and to KEEP doing it. That felt very good to get some educated praise. The Dojo did that for me.

Brett Radcliff, Kansas, USA

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