Have you ever noticed that the best bagpipe bands and world-famous solo pipers tend to come from Scotland? Or, if they don’t come from Scotland, they tend to come from major cities in Commonwealth countries. Or, they come from a piping family where the art is passed down through generations...
Is this because their fingers are more nimble or they can read music better? The answer is NO. It is because those pipers have been immersed in a piping culture their entire lives. They have listened to pipe music since they were children, they grew up attending town ceilidhs (parties) and other celebrations where the bagpipes were a natural component. It should come as no surprise, then, that listening to pipe music over many years can put anyone into a better position to learn the bagpipe.
But what about those of us outside such a piping environment? We need to create our own immersion!
Any opportunity I get to immerse myself in pipe music I enjoy listening to is a top priority for me. I consider it to be at least as important as actually playing the pipes. Attending live piping events when possible, listening to recordings old and new, meeting great pipers when given the chance all have tremendous benefits.
Any available time before or after a practice session:
Immerse yourself in pipe music! Grab headphones and, at the very least, be listening to bagpipe music that you like and enjoy. Also, occasionally listen to your own recordings and see if you can pick up on things you'd like to improve.
I regularly immerse myself in bagpipe music and ideas:
- On the car stereo while driving
- In headphones while mowing the lawn.
- Doing dishes
- Any other housework.
I work on memorization and expression as I grocery shop, in the shower (too much information?), as I sing to my kids at night (an early form of immersion for them…), etc.
How will you integrate these activities in your day to day life?
Remember: Immersion activities are the most important thing you can do to develop in terms of how much better it will make you over time. Don’t let an hour of your day slip by without something pertaining to bagpipes happening.
Need Some Inspiration?
We regularly post great bagpipe music on our blog that inspires us! If you're in the mood to discover some new music, click here!