So, we now know that developing objective fundamentals is a core tenet to mastery (see Commandment 7), and we also know that we should strive to develop all of these fundamentals to a state of “unconscious competence” (see Commandment 8).
Now, the next core principle of mastery is something we’ve known our whole lives. The problem is, we don’t apply this common-sense rule to our piping often enough. And that rule is this:
Don’t put the cart before the horse.
Simple, right? If you’re putting together a horse-and-cart-combo, the order matters! First things must come first in order for the next things to come next.
Let’s briefly look at the most obvious piping example of putting the cart before the horse. Here’s the great irony: most pipers spend the majority of their time working on their tunes with all of the embellishments in. But, embellishments are combinations of other fundamentals:
Embellishments align with the beat, and have steps whose timing must be controlled (i.e., embellishments require rhythmic accuracy).
Many embellishments contain note-changes (i.e. embellishments require great scale navigation).
Obviously, embellishments contain gracenotes (i.e. embellishments require great gracenote quality).
Despite the vast majority of pipers being fully aware that they have pre-existing issues with rhythm, scale navigation, and gracenote quality, they nonetheless apply the majority of their time to embellishments. Can you see how this is putting the cart before the horse?