Jane Phillips: Honoring My Ancestors

As a child I had always had a strong, unexplainable draw to Scotland and the bagpipes. I just love listening to the pipes. I knew I must be part Scottish.

My original goals were to just be able to play the pipes for my own enjoyment. It has always been on my bucket list of things to accomplish. I wanted to play for myself and to honor my scottish ancestors.

In mid 2016 I picked up a cheap practice chanter I saw in a thrift shop. It was very cheap and I couldn’t get it to do anything. I ordered my first “real” practice chanter with the College of Piping Green book. I was off! I spent two years going through the Green Book on my own as I couldn’t find any instructors in my area. It was both fun and frustrating.

In April 2019, on my birthday, my family got together and purchased a beautiful set of pipes from Hendersons for me. I spent months trying to play them and got frustrated and put them away. I even stopped playing the practice chanter. I would pick up the chanter every now and then and play it. I would search the internet for an instructor in my area again without success.

Then I came across the DOJO and signed up. I followed the tutor to re-learn everything but frustration and life both caused me to stop again. During covid I decided to give my pipes a go again and realized that my bag had a leak in it. I got a new bag and was able to get the drones going but not the chanter. So again, I put them away.

I thought I was too old to learn. I feel like I am rhythmically challenged and lack any natural talent.

After starting and stopping so many times I had an awakening moment. In late 2021, my granddaughter was just starting to learn the violin and did not want to do the Christmas recital. I lectured her about quitting. Then she said to me, “but Grandma, you quit!” Oh boy was she right!

So we made a deal, she would do the recital if I began learning the pipes again. So right after the holidays, I sat in front of my computer and thought, I’ve been paying for this Dojo for 2 years so I might as well start getting something out of it. I clicked to join a beginner class. I was terrified! I started completely from the beginning so that I could re-learn the proper way and I am now in Chapter 4 of the Tutor.

I was a terrible student in school. ADD and dyslexia are my problems. Now, I have been diagnosed with Aged Related Macular Degeneration in both eyes and I don’t see as well. So I have had to make adjustments to my learning. After doing Andrew’s Rhythm course, I rewrite all the music in MuseScore to get it bigger for me to read and to add a rhythm line. And that has helped me so much to understand the music and the rhythm better. I have learned so much this past year and have had such a great time and have made some good friends along the way.

I have learned so much this past year and have had such a great time and have made some good friends along the way. I have finished the Transitioning to the Pipes course and am actually playing the pipes 15-20 minutes every day. I am again meeting a lot of frustration but I’m not going to quit this time!

I have a long ways to go but I have learned to embrace to journey - the good and the bad.

I have played my pipes for a few people and have connected with a fellow Dojo classmate and played some tunes with him. My granddaughter and I will both play for family this holiday season.

I am really looking forward to seeing where this next year takes me in my bagpipe journey. I have learned more in one year of Dojo than I did in 5 years on my own. I know I have found the right instruction for me. Working at my own pace and being able to watch so many different classes has been a godsend.

The Transitioning to the Pipes course has been such an eye opener. There is so much more to this instrument than I ever imagined. Now that I have a good understanding of how it works, I can focus on perfecting/mastering my maintenance, calibration, tuning, blowing skills, etc.

The pipes are much easier now. I wish I would have utilized all Dojo offered when I first signed up.

I feel like my fingerwork is improved but I have so much more to learn.

I am definitely happier and I have more confidence. I am very proud of what I have learned and what I am now able to do. My family is also proud of where I am at today. I am so excited to continue my journey.

Jane Phillips, Ohio, USA

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