"Passive" Practice via Immersion

We regularly post great bagpipe music on our blog that inspires us! If need some immersion inspiration, click here!

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!

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  1. What is available in Hong Kong is listening to YouTube only.
    We do not have any Piping Events...Piping Festivals...Highland Games..., and even worse today, the political environment is hindering the existence, not to mention the growth, of Piping in HK as Bag-Pipes & Scottish Tartans are sometimes treated as a foreign substance which should be prohibited in HKSAR of the China government.
    Anyway, the above is only what I feel. Music-wise speaking, there should be no territories, it is a world-wide arts which should be enjoyed by all of us in this planet.

    1. How about Spotify or another music steaming services? The reality is unless you live in Scotland, it's very difficult to be immersed without using Youtube, Spotify, other music services, and/ or Podcasts. But the beauty of it is that we DO have these today and so we can still immerse ourselves in piping and piping culture no matter where we live!

      1. Hi Carl,
        Thanks for feedback.
        We can always name a hundred reasons on NOT doing a thing.
        There shouldn't be any barrier if one is committed to Piping. My friend told me : "You need not to possess a gift from God before starting playing bagpipes, what you need is to start & continue practicing before you can play like you have a gift from God."
        I am listening to YouTube everyday during the journey to & from work, and I find that it is a good way to learn new tunes. I am so stupid that I need to hear the tunes for hundreds of times before I can enjoy & remember them. In fact, during the course of listening, I am telling myself that I have to love this tune before I can learn it. I do not know if the grace-notes / beats / pipe-sound / ... are correct or not, I just everyday listen to YouTube, play the practice chanter. If time and circumstances allow, I will go out to play the full Pipes, but this will only be once a week the most.
        This is the way how I self-learn Piping in Hong Kong.

  2. I have been exposed to bagpipe music for a long time but didn't really appreciate the rhythm and embellishments until I began playing bagpipes. Since "newly immersed", I've started listening more carefully/ mindfully and have a newfound love of the complexities.