Michael Bangs: Recapturing the Feeling

I had always wanted to play the bagpipes, but never had time with career and family. My daughters headed out to college, so I decided to take up the bagpipes with little to no musical experience.

I really did not know what my goal was going to be - I guess I wanted to be able to learn some tunes and play the bagpipe with some degree of quality. Maybe I would solo compete, but maybe not.

My grandmother loved the bagpipes and would take me to parades and always encouraged me to play. My best memories date back to going with her to parades and seeing the bagpipers. I guess I wanted to recapture that feeling from when I was a kid.

Having no prior musical experience, I had a lot to learn. Trying to juggle a busy career and family, prevented me from going all in on the bagpipes.

I decided to move slowly and patiently to learn the bagpipes, but my progress was almost nonexistent. I was easily distracted and not focused. My bagpipe instructor liked to say I learned things to the 80% level and moved on. By not going to 100% on any one topic, I slowed the learning process significantly.

I did consider dropping the pipes at one stage. I had been working very slowly toward actually playing the pipes and not ever really being able to play the pipes. I sort of felt like a false bagpiper...I had been building up to playing and never really achieving my goal.

I saw my bagpipe instructor had the Dojo planner and I got curious. I really thought that having a bagpipe planner might help, so I went to the website. I signed up for the free membership right away to get the planner.

The Dojo community is awesome. As a newbie bagpiper not attached to a band, I felt pretty alone. Just me and weekly visits with my instructor. The Dojo immediately gave me a whole world to explore.

My bagpipe instructor was giving me all the right coaching, but i needed a broader perspective and more structured input - more goals along the way. Dojo provided the structure and additional perspectives that I needed to enrich my bagpipe learning.

The transitioning to the bagpipe had a huge impact on my transition to playing the bagpipe. Because I do not have much of a musical background, breaking down the process into components and addressing tune learning in a structured manner as been a significant help. I have also significantly leveraged the Dojo drill and technique training to improve my fingerwork.

For a long time, my friends and family knew I was learning the bagpipes, but ironically I really did not play the pipes. I really felt like a poser.

Using the Dojo method, while I am still a novice bagpiper, I can honestly say I am bagpiper and no longer a poser. That feels great.

Michael Bangs, Georgia, USA

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