Marina Von Tscharner: Rocking Swiss Piper

As a child we watched the Edinburgh Tattoo on TV every year. I always liked the sound of the bagpipes. When I got married, we had a band playing for us after the ceremony.

I planned to start together with my husband. It was he who wanted to learn to play the bagpipes.
So, I booked a trial lesson for both of us with a teacher in our region. My husband didn't come with me. Now, I play the bagpipes, he doesn't.

My goal was to learn something completely new. After my PhD in geology I suddenly had spare time and I love the process of learning itself. I just wanted to see if i could learn to play the bagpipes. The longterm goal was to play for my family.

When I got my pipes, I was very disappointed because I couldn’t get a sound out of them. I was clearly demotivated. At that point I became pregnant with our first daughter, and I didn’t dare to play my pipes untrained during pregnancy (at least not in the beginning). So, I stopped playing or better didn’t even start playing on my pipes. I never really had someone who could tell me about posture, maintenance and steady blowing. The occasional workshops didn't help with this either, because there is far too little time for individual support.

Sometimes I still have limiting beliefs. I often wonder why I work so hard and invest so much time. What do I achieve with it, am I really getting better?

I considered quitting when I became pregnant with my first child and still no sound coming from my whistles, I would have quit if I hadn't been able to join this new band in my area. After the birth of my daughter, there came a time when I actually now played in the band rehearsals and at workshops. Because I practiced too little, I was constantly kicking water to keep from sinking.

I think I started with the Dojo taking the Tune Building Success Plan course in July 2019, which I really enjoyed. Then I forgot about the Dojo again and it wasn't until a year later that I watched the 4 videos about the secrets of tuning. I was really interested, but it was always a bit too expensive for me with my young family. If I had known back then what the Dojo could bring me, I would not have hesitated for a second.

Another year later I ordered the book about Bagpipe Freedom, read it and tried to implement as much of it as possible. After that, it took another 1.5 years, the 11 Commandment of Mastery course and a Christmas present before I finally decided on the premium membership in February 2023.

I love the Dojo Community. Even if I don't actively participate, I can take a lot with me from the discussions. Some questions are discussed that I have never thought about before. For me, it's like a whole new universe is opening up in front of me. I also like that I can listen to other people play. I then try to find out what the person is doing well and where the weaknesses are. I can then compare that with the feedback from the teachers. This is how I learn what to watch out for in my own playing. And I really like getting feedback on my own performances. That's what I was really missing before because I was always playing for myself or for unqualified audiences. It was like living without a mirror.

The Dojo helped me to see everything in a more structured way than before and it helped me to find my weaknesses and resolve them. I was already aware of some of them, but didn't know how to tackle them.

It has also helped me a lot to make my bagpipe more comfortable since I also started with the "Make Your Bagpipes Easy" theme month. Especially working on my posture helped me a lot to feel more comfortable with my bagpipe. Also, I'm able to do proper maintenance instead of telling myself better not to touch anything.

I'm definitely a lot more competent with the tuning precess now but there is still a way to go. But at least now I know in which direction... I've never had much trouble learning melodies except at the very beginning. But the Dojo helped me to improve the process even more.

The Dojo makes me happier overall. It showed me where I could improve, but it also showed me that one or the other thing I've done so far isn't as bad as I always thought. This makes me proud of myself. The Dojo gives me a much clearer view of where I can specifically improve. This leads to success much faster than practicing blindly in all directions.

Marina Von Tscharner, Switzerland

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