Sally Jones: From Dog Gate to Heirloom

My father learned to play the bagpipes as an adult.  He started at age 51, when I was a teenager. When he passed away at age 87, he left his pipes to my twin sister. Over the next few years, my poor sister lost both her eldest son and her husband, and no one in her immediate family wanted to learn the bagpipes. They were left in their original case, and we're being used for a time as a gate to keep the dog out of the kitchen! On one of my many visits, I asked my sister if I could have the pipes and she agreed. I had them refurbished at Henderson's and began to learn to play with our local band. I was 51, just like my Dad.

Both my mother and I loved to hear my father practicing the pipes. We were very proud of him, and he became an excellent amateur player. He once performed at a Rod Stewart concert! Growing up, it was never considered "proper" for a girl to play in my family but I was determined to learn to play them as well as he had... to honor him.

My original teacher, a band mate, was wonderful. But we got to the point where I needed more guidance. Another band mate started teaching me more intensively, and last year I started competing solo. My biggest hurdle has always been confidence!!!

Limiting beliefs have been significant! I grew up being told that "women do not play pipes, they do highland dancing..." I am a very curvy, short middle aged woman and always feel awkward in my uniform. My band never showed me how to calibrate my pipes, and the pipe major is always picking out our reeds for us... too hard usually... so it was a real struggle to sound decent. My second teacher has helped me understand my pipes and now the Dojo is helping even more.

I tried to get going on the Dojo several times, and gave up because I'm just awful with computers. I heard of you from a friend in band and I attended an excellent Dojo tuning workshop in Troy, New York, several years ago. Still uncomfortable with the computer, I didn't seek the online community until the PANDEMIC kept me home and isolated.

I was an on/off member for a couple of years before the pandemic and isolation focused my attention on the real possibilities of the Dojo. It's a community of pipers and teachers right in my home! I'm finding it wonderful and supportive and friendly. I just tried the manometer calibrations and WOW! No one in my band does these things.

I'm learning how to tune properly and efficiently, how to really play, and what things are important. I like seeing folks who are going through the same struggles that I am experiencing. I like the excellent and continuous instruction and I like that I can go back and review a class if I have to miss one due to my other commitments.

It was always been really tough for me to memorize tunes but using the Dojo tune building method is helping greatly! Too bad I can't get a new and better working brain! ? My bandmate can't figure out what's happened to me! She's completely wowed and I've only just started Dojo. I'm even surprising myself!

Sally J from Stockton Springs, Maine

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