Freedom Phase 1 can be a jarring experience for many learners.
"I signed up to learn bagpipes, and these crazy Dojo people are making me clap my hands until they're sore, and THEN telling me NO THAT WASN'T RIGHT."
This frustration is normal. You wouldn't be the first person to turn caps-lock on and say "I WILL BE PURSUING OTHER OPTIONS."
But, I've been in the game a while now, and, while you may still be able to make a buck playing some funerals for the general public, and you may be able to take a third prize at your entry level solo competition, you'll never be able to set out on a permanent "upward" trajectory with your piping without the basics of rhythm.
Sometimes, the truth hurts.
Here's the other stinger: in the entirety of the Dojo U Freedom Phase process, there will never be an easier assignment than Phase 1. All future assignments build on this.
In Phase 1, we're just trying to clap our hands to the rhythm of the tune of the week, accurately to the click of the metronome. By Phase 2, we'll need to do that AND THEN also play the correct notes WITH excellent gracenote quality as well.
No one, and I mean NO ONE, has had more ego bruising moments than me - especially in the world of piping. I get how much it can hurt for your weaknesses to be exposed.
But, I want you to understand that the pain is temporary, and that, if you can muster up the conviction to dig deep and start to learn these core skills, joy (yes, really - JOY) can be the result.
Examples of Phase 1 "Passes"
Ok, so you've experienced your first stunning failure and you're going back to the drawing board.
Or, you're scared this will be the case, so you've found yourself reading this article.
Congrats - this is a good place to begin.
Let's start with this:
What are we trying to do here?
And the answer is very simple. Write this down and stick it where you practice:
- Tap or Clap the correct rhythms from this week's Tune of the Week.
- Be accurate (precise) to the click of the metronome.
Tip: There are NO RULES about tempo. Play as slow as you need to to get it right.
Tip: RELAX! Nothing causes rushing more than out of control anxiety.
Tip: This isn't a competition. Our team that grades your submission WANTS you to do well!
Tip: With our previous tip in mind, a tiny error won't cause you to fail. If you make a small error, keep going, focusing on correct rhythms, played accurately to the click of the metronome.
Let's now listen to some successful performances together.
Weird Echo, but Well-Clapped!
Here is an example of a hornpipe, well clapped.
Not perfect, and a weird echo, but it gets the job done.
PS - I would have done this considerably slower. There are no rules about tempo.
Here were Andy's comments from this performance:
Metronome clearly audible? - Yes Tempo set to best tempo? - Yes Rhythms clapped correctly? (Strathspeys may be vocalized) - Yes Rhythms accurate to click? - Yes - some small instances of leading --- Comments: Interesting echo! Great job! Leading the beat just a hair on occasion but nothing to get in a twist over. Good job! --- Assignment Approved! Great Job!
This is All You Have To Do
Here is an example of a competition style reel, clapped well!
I personally love the nice, easy tempo, and her accuracy is right on the money. As Cam notes in her feedback, she does "get off the beat" slightly in one or two spots, but adjusts well and gets right back in the middle of the lane.
Metronome clearly audible? - Yes Tempo set to best tempo? - Yes Rhythms clapped correctly? (Strathspeys may be vocalized) - Yes Rhythms accurate to click? - Yes --- Comments: A great effort Caroline, a tiny bit ahead of the click at the beginning of the bar. Just relax, fill the space and take your time. The rhythm was excellent generally, just make sure when this moves onto chanter you take your time in every bar. All the best, Cameron --- Assignment Approved! Great Job!
In Strathspeys, We Prefer to Vocalize
As we lay out in the Rhythm Course, we encourage players to vocalize strathspey rhythms, because there are often many short notes in a row that are physically a bit difficult to clap.
Check out this great vocalized submission:
Metronome clearly audible? - Yes Tempo set to best tempo? - Yes Rhythms clapped correctly? (Strathspeys may be vocalized) - Yes - Excellent - I tiny touch large on one of the 16th notes before a run... that happens when playing this tune, something to listen out for. Rhythms accurate to click? - Yes - 99-100% ! --- Comments: Excellent! One slightly large 16th note but other than that..... spot on. --- Assignment Approved! Great Job!
A Second Strathspey Rhythm Vocalization Example (For Phase 1 Recordings)
Here's how that might sound: