I grew up in a Scottish household and pipe music was a part of that. I had a Great Uncle who was a PM in the Black Watch and I thought it would be good to carry on the tradition.
Originally, I just wanted to be able to play a few tunes and have some fun with it. I really didn't have any specific goals. Like so many people that take to the pipes, I was really drawn to the sound: it's such an amazing and unique instrument.
I'm always amazed at how hard it is to play the pipes and how many things can go wrong. I think my biggest struggle has always been that the pipes have felt hard to play, even with an easy reed.
Often I've had thoughts that maybe I wasn't really cut out for this. I see so many young people just pick it up and not seem to have trouble playing at all and I wonder why I have so many problems. Quite a few times I've thought about just quitting piping and going back to playing guitar. I could do that just fine, why were the pipes so hard?!
I don't really remember about the first time I've heard about the Dojo. I'd looked at the Dojo a few times over several years and tried the 30 day trial a couple of times but figured I didn't really have the time to commit to it.
The community is very constructive and supportive. Whether you're in a band, solo, or just piping on your own, it's great to have a community of like-minded people to relate to.
I've only been doing the Dojo for a few months now, but it's really helped me focus on fundamentals and building those out one at a time. Already I've seen an improvement in my piping and in a recent contest, took two 1st places in my grade.
The Dojo has helped me realize where I had my pipes set up in a way that was not comfortable and didn't allow me to play in a relaxed way. Learning tunes with the tune builder process is a much faster, better way to learn. Also, having a new tune every 2 weeks has helped train my brain to learn tunes faster.
I'm actually shocked and how much more relaxed my finger technique has become and how much smaller my grace notes are getting.
Working with the Dojo, I feel like my music practice is much more focused which has made it much more enjoyable. Now, my hard work is taking me forward, which has made me feel good about my piping for the first time in my life.
John Buchanan, British Columbia, Canada