Robert Baxter: Continuing the Tradition

I inherited my grandfather's pipes, and at the age of 55, I finally got up the courage to learn how to play. I haven't looked back.

I wanted to play in parades. I watched my grandfather and uncle play, and I wanted that. I love the sound of bagpipes, and I wanted to carry on the family tradition.

I had trouble tuning. Trouble getting the drones to be even. Avoiding mental errors. I thought I'd be too embarrassed to join a band. They're all so much better than me. I'll ruin the band. Nope. Once I got going, I was in. Not quitting.

I think I was googling how to tune my drones and stumbled on the Dojo. It took about a year to join.

I'm a bit of a loner when it comes to practicing, except with the band. The Dojo has helped me focus better, and has helped me hone in on areas that I can improve. Going to the trouble to make sure my bagpipes were airtight made a big difference. I still need to work on my finger technique. My fingers don't move as quickly as they do for you youngsters!

Making my pipes easier to play has increased my confidence. I now play well enough to impress my neighbors.

My cousin, who grew up with her father playing the pipes, is a rather harsh critic, whom I thought I could never impress. I played at my mother's funeral last year, and my cousin came up to me in tears and said, "When I closed my eyes, I thought I could hear my dad playing. It was beautiful." Mission accomplished.

Robert Baxter, Utah, USA

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