Paul Harrison: Loud and Proud

I joined the Aladdin Shrine and they had a bagpipe unit performing. I liked the sound and went up to talk to them and they invited me to join. They promised to teach me everything. I really just wanted to play in the band and have fun but also the Shriner band raises money for Shriner's Children hospitals. One of the drummers told me that the music was calling to me. Then he looked at my sur name and said it was of Scottish descent. So what the hay!

I am not your typical beginner. I have been piping for 20 years. I did not realize what I did not know or what not to do. I decided I wanted to play solo and started taking lessons. That is when I realized how much I did not know and how much I did wrong. For example, no one tunes in our band, we take a tuner around and set drones up while cold and no chanter and that was tuned. We don't touch our drone reeds. We never tap rhythm because that would be distracting. And if you don't know the tune, just sound your drones!

I was told never to compete because only kids under 19 score, that ear tuning is a myth and I was too old of a learner to progress! I did consider quitting at the time as we were only playing parades and charity events and it was same old routine and same horrible playing.

I joined several online chat groups and Dojo came up in conversation so I gave it a shot. The more you participate, the better the Dojo is. That was the difficult part to me. The Dojo does requires the student to take the initiative. At first it is difficult to understand how to get maximum benefit from the Dojo but once I figured it out and got in to a routine, I really started to enjoy it.

For first time in my life, I can look at a new tune, and start clapping it out in my head to hear it. Previously, I would find someone playing it online or transcribe the tune on my computer to hear it. I understand tempo, I just never used a metronome before.

The band has noticed I have some of the loudest pipes AND I am least winded when playing. Also, amazingly, the pipe major went to tune my drones and the pipe sergeants both stopped him and said listen to Paul's pipes. The are locked in and loud... they decided I was better tuned than the band!

The wife and some of my closer friends, tell me that when I play the sound is much more musically than the band. I believe they are hearing the grace notes. Before the Dojo, I realized how bad I sounded and I was going to get rid of my pipes if I could not improve.

I have been piping outside to practice since COVID and I now the neighbors tell me they like the free concerts!

Paul H from Newark, Ohio

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