Derek Travers: Climbing the Huge Cliff

I come from a military family so bagpipes have always been the background soundtrack of my life. I decided I wanted to do more than just listen to them.

I always thought it would be cool to play in a band. I also wanted to be available for memorials and celebrations.

I can remember watching my brother on parade in his regiment. The pipes skirling, the drums rolling... magical! That made me want to make people feel the way I did while watching and listening.

I live quite far north in Canada. Getting consistent instruction on the chanter was hard, never mind the new struggles you get when you move to the full pipes.

I started at age 49 and everyone told me I was too old for this. I heard it so often, I almost started believing them.

The learning curve for pipes seemed like a huge cliff that I was having trouble climbing. I almost quit before I'd even truly started.

I did an online search for piping instructors and the Dojo was on the first results page. I signed up for some of their free material and was intrigued. I signed on as a student after about 6 more months of struggling on my own.

I find the community to be one of my favourite aspects of the Dojo. Being able to drop into a live class and chat with different instructors and students is FANTASTIC, especially during this COVID pandemic and the subsequent stay-at-home orders. The new chat server also allows me to feel connected and get instant answers or feedback to my questions.

Without the Dojo, I'd have quit trying to learn the pipes. Simple as that. Being able to grab a class now and then, get feedback and feel connected to a community has helped me a ton.

I was gifted a beautiful set of pipes but I may as well have been trying to make music from a stone. Nothing seemed to work. Using the Dojo methodology, I found I had a leaky bag and my drones were taking too much air. Now, they sound amazing and strong.

I didn't know how to tune my drones or chanter before I joined. Getting feedback in classes and using the Dojo system has helped me get a good, true sound from my pipes.

I have music experience from prior instruments like Irish whistles and drums but always had trouble memorizing tunes. Learning how to properly break the tunes down into manageable chunks and how to practice them effectively has helped immensely.

My fingerwork has become faster and more accurate.

I love that my family is now ASKING me to practice! They like the sound the chanter and pipes are making now waaaay better than the sounds I choked from them before. It has become a positive feedback loop!

Since joining the Dojo with no piping knowledge, I am now in a pipe band. One of my dreams has happened and I'm very stoked to do some parades next year!

Derek Travers, British Columbia, Canada

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