Dominic Mclaird: Don't pack up your pipes; pick them up!

As a child I loved hearing bagpipe tunes with my parents and wanted to share that love of pipe tunes.

My biggest problem initially was finding a teacher. 20 years ago we didn’t have technology to find teachers; we had to find someone local. But moving every few years made finding a teacher or traveling a few hours very difficult.

As an adult, I moved around too often to find a teacher and make progress. Originally I wanted to play for memorials and join a band, but now, a few years after a traumatic brain injury (TBI), memorizing tunes has become a lot harder. It took me awhile to pick up the pipes again after so much frustration.

I initially I fell into the trap that “I just don’t have the talent for this instrument”. Now, I have to remember that memorizing tunes need to have a process: a TBI isn’t a reason to pack up the pipes for good!

I did put the pipes away, for almost 7 years. I was making progress and after I couldn’t remember tunes as quickly and efficiently as before, I was frustrated; it was not fun to feel bad about my “failures”. It was almost 7 years after I packed up my pipes that I slowly made the realization that I had to change my perspective. I missed the pipes but had to change how I looked at learning to play music.

It was at the same time that I found the Dojo and realized I could find bagpipe freedom; I was all about the new way to look at learning the pipes. I was living in Japan and realized that technology was finally catching up to quality online instruction. Looked for online bagpipe teachers and signed up for month. I was hooked.

I am making progress. Real progress to make music and use the pipes to express our music. The change in perspective from just learning tunes and getting them “good enough” to really spending time to immerse myself in learning is amazing.

And the freedom to understand how to set up my own bagpipes instead of having to wait to bring them to a lesson to remember how to tune is amazing. All of the online courses made information accessible instead of looking at it as a mysterious instrument.

The pressure to memorize the whole tune is gone. The Dojo method is working; by breaking the tune apart and working on small sections I am able to focus on what I am doing in the moment.

I am much happier now. I am proud of the things that I have accomplished. I finally feel like I can share some of the bagpipe tunes with others. That is a great feeling. Instead of a chore that I have to finish I look forward to practice and it is now immersed in my daily routine.

After reading Finding Bagpipe Freedom for the second time, I realized that I incorporated some of the ideas into my normal conversations about other topics.

The basic ideas about progression and improvement are not just applicable to bagpipes.

Dominic Mclaird, United States 

Related Articles