My father was pipe major of one of the local bands and thus became my first tutor. He was Australian Champion at the time.
Initially I wanted just to be able to play well. I was too young to worry about bands or competitions at the time. Maybe it was in my blood. Since I have aged, I have come to realise that bagpiping is a part of who I am.
Where do I start? As my father was my tutor, I became his 'test pilot' for all things bagpipes. From "blowing in" hard reeds to fear of failure at competitions (something I am still to overcome at age 67!). I was always told you WILL do this; even if you have to stay out in the rain until you do!!!
I stepped away from piping many times. I joined the Navy at age 16 and very quickly found that discovering that you played the pipes was a good way to get keel-hauled. There was a hiatus for 30-40yrs (until I left the Navy). When I was first getting back into piping, my father had passed and I was looking for professional help. I saw an ad for Dojo U on the internet and joined.
It is a community of like-minded players who have had the same struggles as me. Also, the advice given by the Dojo has answered many questions already (such as fear of public performance).
I have only just started with the Dojo and already I have found answers to two questions; fighting with an instrument that is too hard (I realized that my bag was too big) and bagpipe captivity (fear of public performance).
I have two sets of pipes. My McCallums are physically too demanding (the bag is too large, so I am downsizing) and an older set of Hardies were leaking but I didn't know from where (it turned out to be the reed seats).
Am I happier? Certainly a lot more happier that before. Do I have more confidence? That's a work in progress. Am I proud? Well, that's a work in progress too.
Rod Gillies, Australia