I have always been fascinated with the sound of the pipes. When I was younger, two girls I knew played the pipes and lived up the road from me. I would walk up when they were practicing just to listen. That carried on throughout my life and I thought I was too old to learn. I was in John Walsh's shop one day just looking around and asking questions and he lent me a chanter and a beginner's tutor to see if I liked it. I found someone to teach me closer to home and that is how I got started.
Originally I just wanted to play for myself. I never thought I would be good enough to play in a band. In the beginning, my instructor would have to leave the room while I played or I couldn't get a sound out of the chanter!
When I first got my pipes, I could get tunes up to speed for the most part but the embellishments sounded "mushy" to me and my birls were not great. I have thought I was too old and that I am not talented enough to do it. I wondered if it was worth the frustration and I thought everyone was much better than I was and that led to anxiety when I had to play in front of anyone. I thought of quitting many times. I even went so far as to take my pipes out to my pipe major's house and give them to him to get rid of. I felt I was getting worse instead of better. I became frustrated and stopped practicing on pipes which made them harder to play.
A friend who I met at a workshop by James McHattie friended me on Facebook and mentioned she was taking lessons online at Dojo and said I should join as it would be a good addition to my other lessons. The Dojo community is a wonderful place to be... not only for the instruction but for the support from instructors and students alike. You can depend on their good and practical feedback and no question is too stupid.
I was recently told by my P.M. that I am one of the better pipers in my band! The Dojo has helped me with timing, rhythm and also helped to improve my embellishments and the size of my gracenotes. Learning tunes is much easier using the method taught at Dojo. My gracenotes are smaller. embellishments are cleaner but still need some work and my D throws are better than they ever were. I am happier and no longer want to quit piping. Well not every day...LOL!
One of the coolest things the Dojo does is the piping cruises. The fact that we get to have in person classes with some of the finest pipers and meet like minded people from all over the world is amazing! The connections made stay with us and even though we live in different places we remain friends!
Mary C. from Haliburton Nova Scotia