I kinda started learning to play in 1984 in Santa Rosa, CA, but was transferred (Coast Guard). After many starts and stops, in 1996 decided to really start on the pipes in Billings, MT.
I always liked hearing the bagpipes, and with 1/4 Scottish ancestry, I thought it would be fun to be a piper.
With free learning with a pipe band, you get some good and some not so good instructors. One tried to have me try to blow a very hard reed on the pipes and wanted us to play everything too fast for our skill level. Others were really good. Slow and easy, don't forget low G on low hand embellishments, etc.. Was always told I play too fast. Found out I always put the note on the beat. Finally was told put the grace notes and doublings on the beat. Bought Rhythmic Fingerwork. Big help.
I always heard, well, you started when you were 40, so you'll be limited. I also met a couple of others that started in their 40s and became Grade 1 pipers. So I know if I was dedicated enough, I could be more successful.
I think I first heard about the Dojo when I heard about the $7 cane reed course, plus $2 more for a free month of Dojo. I had started on cane reeds, so I thought it would be fun. And it was. I would get the emails from Dojo and downloaded a PDFs which I thought were good.
It was a while before I joined. Long hours at work, grandkids, and a couple of other hobbies. Just not enough time for Dojo. As retirement neared, I thought it would be good to get me learning and getting better on the pipes.
I like the courses and the weekly review of new tunes. Pushes me to focus on my weak points.
I was in very good band in Virginia which really improved my playing. Now, I'm one of the better pipers in a parade band and I feel I've been getting sloppy. Being in Dojo is helping me focus on getting rid of some bad habits.
I've been piping for over 20 years and learned a long time ago, you need comfortable pipes that are well maintained. I have learned in Dojo how to improve on what I had been doing, like compression hemping and how to use your manometer to help adjust your drone bridles. I've usually used simple setups except when I tried hybrid bags with zippers. I used tube and a rag in a bottle for moisture control. Before joining Dojo, I've gone back to leather bags and no moisture control, just a moose value.
I am piping more now so that's a plus. And getting back to where I was (better focus and playing) a decade ago. Now it's time for improvements.
John Anevski, Montana, USA