Jason Michel: No More Eye Rolls

I started my bagpiping journey in November 2020. I wanted to learn to play after hearing a song at church that I thought would sound great with bagpipes. Unfortunately I cannot remember the name of the song.

I had always enjoyed pipe music and after hearing a couple of violins play at church I kept thinking that song would sound great on bag pipes. It kept in mind for about a month so I decided I should pursue the idea of learning the pipes.

It has been a fun adventure for me so far. Not sure my family has found it as much fun as I have.

I started with taking weekly classes with a teacher via Skype. I started with a practice chanter a couple weeks over a year ago and have been playing the full set of pipes since about May.

Rhythm I think is biggest problem. Then I have trouble getting clean note changes, which keeps me from getting my tunes up to speed. I knew this was new to me and would take time to learn. I kept at it and my instructor was patient with me. It can be frustrating at times, but never thought about quitting.

I think I heard about the Dojo from a couple of Facebook pages. I poked around the site but that was about it until more recently. It took maybe 8 months to sign up. I wanted to get a foundation and I was concerned that when I first starting out I didn't want to get pulled in a bunch different directions.

Now that I have some foundational knowledge I thought Dojo U would help me as a piper to get more input from several different directions to help me grow. It has given me the chance to go back and work on some fundamentals. The immersion I think has helped a lot. The community also is welcoming.

I am still working on mainly chanter aspects and working on rhythm, but I am looking forward to the Transitioning to the Bagpipe lessons. I think getting my drone reeds efficient has made it easier to maintain even pressure to allow for better, consistent tuning. I think my finger technique has improved too – I don't notice as many crossing noises.

I feel proud to have started playing and improving. My family have mentioned that they have noticed a difference and that means a lot, I think, since I used to mainly get eye rolls when I would go to practice.

I am hoping to start making some stories and memories.

Jason Michel, Texas, USA

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