My father was a piper, so I grew up listening and loving the sound of the bagpipes. I'd always wanted to learn, but it wasn't until I hit 50 years old that I finally took lessons.
Originally, I wanted to play with my Dad and to play with a band. I said to my brother, "Dad always plays for everyone's funerals...who's going to play for his?" I wanted to be the piper at his funeral.
After my Dad died (and I was the piper at his funeral) I felt like I had achieved my original goal and I set the pipes down for 3 months and didn't touch them. But I'd already put so much time and money into it, so I picked them back up again with a new goal of becoming a Grade 3 piper.
I used to struggle with steady blowing, tuning, knowing how to maintain my pipes, and how to make them easier to blow.
I would get frustrated by my perceived lack of progress, but my husband would say, "Jayne, if it was easy, everyone would be doing it."
I first heard about Dojo from Lou Lanaro at the Celtic Arts Foundation's Winter School in February 2020. He had improved so much from the previous year I asked him how he did it.
"Dojo U," he replied. I signed up about 4 months later.
Dojo U has been a great community, where I have met like-minded pipers from all over the world! Everyone is very encouraging and it was a wonderful socially when everything was locked down due to Covid.
I've developed much more consistent playing, better blowing and tuning, calibrating the drone reeds and using the manometer to find the sweet spot made them easier to play. Before that I felt like I was blowing down a manhole. Also, learning to drop my left shoulder and have good posture keeps my fingers from cramping and locking up.
I didn't have trouble learning tunes before, but with the Dojo method I'm learning them correctly the first time. I am also doing much better with doublings and D-throws because of how Andy Fusco breaks down the embellishments in his classes.
I am into full Immersion with the bagpipes, having dropped my other hobbies for now. I am happier, I am confident, I am playing at a higher level, and I've met several really cool people who I consider good friends now.
Plus, I've learned more about the history of the bagpipes and their music. I look forward to every hour I spend with the Dojo.
I have a whole bunch of new friends here who share their love of bagpipes, and that makes me happy and motivated to continue to improve.
Jayne Ferlitsch, Oregon, USA