Compound Interest on the Bagpipes

Just like police recruits often get tased before graduation, I've insisted that our entire Dojo U teaching team needs to personally work their way through and submit recordings to be graded as part of our Bagpipe Freedom Phases.

Not that the Freedom Phases are anything like being tased (no matter what some of our students stuck on a phase may tell you...), but I firmly believe this kind of leading by example is really important – not just so we can prove that the process works and that anyone can 'walk the walk', but also so every instructor can fully understand the entire learning process our students go through at Dojo U.

I'm no exception, so I've also been working through the process recently myself. I'm currently up to Phase 4, and have been steadily working my way through each week. Four weeks; four phase-level passes for me – and somewhat predictably, I passed on the first attempt each time and ready to progress. For context, most of our Dojo students don't pass a phase-level for several weeks (and sometimes months), despite submitting attempts every week.

Now, I'm not trying to be disparaging to our students, at all – failure is the greatest teacher, and by not passing they're actually making remarkable gains in their own piping progress. That's kind of the point, you see. The whole process is designed to help students work through skill-building and mindset shifting incrementally, enjoying the journey and not simply rushing to a destination.

However, working my way through the process has helped me crystallize an idea I've been trying to articulate for a while...

If you're doing it right, your efforts in learning to improve at the bagpipes and strive towards Bagpipe Freedom should be a lot like investing with compound interest.

I'm a world-champion-level professional piper, who's been deeply immersed in piping culture my whole life, and playing at the highest levels of competition for nearly three decades. I started learning young, and I learned well, with access to some of the best teachers in North America to point me in the right direction, plus I was obsessed with competing and improving from a young age, so I devoted hours of focused practice to getting the basics right and quickly mastering higher-level skills.

Of course I can pass a phase-level each week where many of my students struggle – I made investments decades ago that allowed me to do this, much like small amounts of money invested with compound interest can multiply into enormous wealth over a lifetime.

All of my smaller investments – time, expertise, focus, dedication – were ones I made at a young age, managed well throughout my piping career, and have resulted in what is now a significantly higher skill-level than other players who started later or didn't invest as much time or effort over the same period.

Now, if you're very early on in your piping career, or you haven't made those investments over time, you shouldn't despair or give up before you get started. While you may not be able to reach a professional standard of playing in the foreseeable future, just like in finance, in piping, any good investment can pay off enormously well if you start small, make smart choices about where to focus your attention and energy, build up a strong base of assets, and then leverage your diverse portfolio – in this case, of skills and experience – to amass enormous wealth over time.

Investing in 'bagpipe compound interest' now may not get you to the same professional standard of playing as me or others at my level (but who knows, it might!!!), but if you're a beginner or intermediate level player, any investments you make now will help to free you from the crippling debt of bad habits and poor playing, and set yourself up for a fulfilling future where you can enjoy the fruits of your labour.

It's never too late to start investing in your Bagpipe Freedom.

Next Steps:

We literally wrote the book on Bagpipe Freedom! Click here to purchase it today.

As a Dojo U Member, you can begin/continue the freedom process any time by simply following the directions on the member home page.

Dojo Members can begin the freedom process any time by simply following the directions on their member home page. Click here to purchase a membership today.

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  1. I received the training on the tazer but having only been back at work for a week or two after the first Brain surgery, I wimped out and declined the offer to get zapped. ( it may have made be a better piper)