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Old 08-12-08, 03:33 PM   #1
NewPiperinNY
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Default What are some obstacles switching from chanter to pipes?

I am expecting to take delivery of my first set of pipes in the next couple of weeks.... I was wondering what some of the issues going from bags to pipes are going to be.

I know there is a lot going on to get a set of pipes .. the pressure constant is probably the biggest of the issues. But is it simply being able to provide contstant air pressure to a well sealed set of pipes (of course couple with the knowledge of actually knowing how to play) that will allow me to be a successful piper.. or rather successfully play a set of pipes?

BTW... it's 16 F with a wind chill that makes it feel like 6.... and on Wed it's gonna be 60... want to take bids on if I get sick or not??? lol

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Old 08-12-08, 04:34 PM   #2
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There's only one thing that will make you be able to successfully play pipes.....PRACTICE. Lots and lots of lovely practice!
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Old 08-12-08, 05:10 PM   #3
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A lot of that going on.... trust me. Every lunch is in my car with sheet music attached to my visor.

Not looking for shortcuts, just some friendly advice for going to pipes for the first time...
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Old 08-12-08, 06:58 PM   #4
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For me, I had a tendency to blow-through.
What I mean by that is I wasn't using the bag properly and I thought I could just keep blowing, really quick breath, and blow more. I know I came close to passing out several times. LOL!
It's gonna be tough....but work through it and you'll be fine.
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Old 08-12-08, 07:11 PM   #5
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The difference between practice chanter and pipes is like the difference between watching highland dancing and performing a highland dance.

It is physically really hard. The physicality amplifies the difficulty in fingering. When you get those pipes and blow them up, even with a really easy reed it's' going to be about all you can manage to just make them sound. When I practice for 30 or 40 minutes I get all sweaty, as if I had been out doing yard work.

It's hard to manage the blowing transitions, so you end up with your pitch going all over the place. It's hard to keep the bag inflated. It's hard to keep the reed sounding. As hard as all those things are, it's even harder to do them all while keeping your left hand relaxed and supple. I thought I had a relaxed hand until I started trying to play reels. Then I realized I needed to relax a lot. Then I thought I had a relaxed hand until I started to play Strathspeys. The slightest bit of tension will make it impossible to do those d and f doublings at speed.

There's really no way to prepare for playing the bagpipes -- you just have to do it. I've been on pipes about two years, and it's really great. It takes a while, but eventually you get control of the breathing, etc, and that part all becomes somewhat automatic, and then you can really focus on playing well. The eventual goal is for it to all be somewhat automatic. As thehorseltd said, the only way to get better is by practicing. When it comes to bagpipes, it's nice to be able to play well on practice chanter, but it doesn't really count -- what matters is how well you can play on pipes, and the only way to get better at playing on pipes is to spend a ton of time doing it. I try to practice 45 minutes to an hour each morning. I have only practiced pipes once in the last two weeks though -- I did get sick. Being sick saps a lot of your strength. I tried practicing last week, but I barely had enough strength to keep the reed going through a whole tune. I think I'm ready to get back into things though.

Here's one thing that did help initially: I put some plastic wrap on my practice chanter so I could stick it in my pipe bag. When I did that initially, I was shocked at how tightly I was gripping with my upper hand. I only did it a few times though, as I was getting used to playing on pipes -- it's not part of my normal routine.

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Old 08-12-08, 07:21 PM   #6
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I remember when my brother (at age 53 or so) moved from PC to pipes, he told me that his instructor (Lynda McKay, Peel Regional Police PB) had him just trying to hold a constant note on first one drone, then two, then three for, I think, 5 minutes. Then he went to holding the drones constant and maintaining one note on the chanter for an amount of time, maybe the same.

He said it took him a long time before he was "officially" able to start playing on the chanter, but by the time he did, he hardly had to think about maintaining a constant pressure or steady drones. Of course he did sneak in a few playing sessions without official sanction.
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Old 09-12-08, 03:01 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scaryguy View Post
Disagree with this.....something as simple as learning to blow steady on the practice chanter prepares you for the pipes.
Moving to a practice goose prepares you for the pipes.
learning to play with relaxed fingers on the pc prepares you.
As mentioned, starting off with just the chanter will make the transition easier.
IMHO if an instuctor is not already being used, one should be for the move from pc to pipes.
Let me rephrase then --

Having previously done all the the things recommended (and working with my instructor) it was still a huge leap for me to move from PC to pipes. Perhaps some people find the transition easy and straightforward, but I haven't heard from them yet.

In other words, do all those things to prepare as best you can, but don't expect the transition to be easy. After playing for 2+ years, I still don't find it "easy"....
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Old 09-12-08, 03:31 PM   #8
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I agree with upstate, all the prep in the world won't make it easy! Perseverance, hard work and practice gets you used to it and builds tolerance. Takes years to develop the musculature, even then it needs to be kept in shape! First thing to train is the mind, the body will follow!
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Old 09-12-08, 08:19 PM   #9
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Default transition

The transition period from PC to pipes is an adventure unto itself. Many aspects will hit you head on. You mentioned constant "pressure", and that indeed is important....especially when tuning. I highly recommend "goosing it" at first. Take the drones off and cork off the stocks and blow the chanter only. Here you can learn the feel of "blow and squeeze" and the tension you are applying to the chanter. Pay attention to how you are gripping the chanter....learn to relax. This will take time.

Not only will you need to work on the pressure/breathing, but to tune the drones and drones to chanter then tuning the chanter. Also reed manipulation, including chanter reed and drone reeds. All of this is why it is important to have an instructor or at least be in a band for instruction. The breathing is just part of it....all aspects of playing the GHB is relative. Be patient and have fun!!
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Old 10-12-08, 12:35 AM   #10
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I never had a goose. Went from the practice chanter to the pipes.

One thing though, when I was learning to blow tone and breath...

My Father used to stand behind me and have me play for a long time and he had a yardstick in his hands.

If I wavered slightly he would smack me on the head. Not hard, but hard enough to let me know I wasn't right.

Today, my fingers might be messed up once in a while, but I play a steady pipe!
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