Friday, July 27, 2007

Selecting a Practice Chanter

Terrific blog and website! I too am trying to get started learning to play. As you said, the first thing to get is a practice chanter. It seems there are many kinds. Would you recommend any certain kinds or manufacturer?

There are many practice chanters out there. You need to select whether you want a blackwood chanter or plastic (polypenco). Personally, I prefer the plastic chanters because they are more durable and inexpensive. There's no difference in sound quality between the two types of materials. You need to select between standard length or extended (long) length. The longer chanters are longer but the hole spacing is exactly the same as the standard length -- the extra length is added to the end of the chanter. There's no real difference in the tone between the two lengths. There are many makers out there. Any should be good. Here's a good place to start looking.

A practice chanter will come with a reed, but it's a good idea to have a couple spares. For several years I've been playing reeds by John Walsh. They have a great tone and are very consistent.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Buying new pipes

I played for several years and then put my pipes down for about 10 years. Now I'm starting to play again and - wow - has the world of piping changed. I would like to buy a new set, but don't know what is really out there. I like the recent Krons and Naills that I have heard. When I stopped playing a few years back I was playing at Grade I and would like an instrument suitable for competition at that level. What new pipe makers would you recommend looking into?

It's a great to time to get into (or get back into) piping. There are many good makers out there. I play Naills and recommend them to my students of all levels, but there are other makers that are good too.

In addition to the many new makes of pipes these days, there are so many options for drone reeds, chanter reeds, bags, moisture control systems, etc. I think the days of one-size-fits-all are gone. The goal is to get a great sounding bagpipe that is comfortable to play -- and now there are many combinations that will work.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Lesson Rates

I liked your website and credentials. Could you send me your rates for lessons? I do live here in your area, so I would be interested in in-person and Webcam lessons. Is there a difference in price depending on the format?

Drop me an email more info on my current rates. Thanks!

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Getting Started

I'm interested in starting lessons. I'm starting from scratch. Are you taking new students? What do I need to get started?

Great! I'd be happy to teach you, it's just a matter of finding a time that will work for both of us. If you live near or can travel to my home teaching studio in Seattle, we can do in-person lessons. Otherwise we can try some of my long distance learning options such as webcam lessons or lessons by tape.

The good news is that you won't need pipes to get started. Pipers start learning on an instrument called the practice chanter. It looks sort of like a recorder. It allows you to learn the fingering for the bagpipes while you learn the basics of reading music and keeping rhythm, etc. After 6 month or so we can talk about getting some bagpipes. A practice chanter is inexpensive -- under $100.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Moving to No-Man's Land

I'm wondering about your webcam lessons, and how appropriate they are for non-beginner pipers. I will be moving to piping no-man's-land later this summer. I'd like to keep my piping up, but there will be no one around to teach me. I haven't had many lessons in recent years, relying instead on a combination of band practices and band tutoring.

Yes! My long distance learning opportunities are perfect for someone like you. You can start with some of my Tune Lesson Downloads to get started learning some fun, new material. If you have a webcam and a good internet connection, we can do some webcam lessons -- they work just like real in-person lessons but we meet using free video chat software on your computer. We could also do lessons by tape (or mp3 or CD), just send me a recording of the tunes you are working on and I'll listen to them and record a custome lesson for you including tips for improvement, learning strategies, and demonstrations on the practice chanter. It's never been easier to learn the pipes -- no matter where you live!

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Working on Technique

I am a beginner piper, only been playing 1 year. I have an instructor that I see once a week. I practice about an hour every other day. I am currently working on Scotland The Brave. I am having trouble with the Taorluath, and C doublings. Have you recorded any drills to cover some of these embellishments that might help a beginner?

I'm working on some Lesson Downloads for the basics. In the mean time, check out Rhythmic Fingerwork by Jim McGillivray, the book includes a CD.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Piobaireachd Lessons

I'm not sure how else to do this so I guess I'm enquiring about your method of teaching over the internet. I'm looking to take piobaireachd lessons because they've never regionally been available to me before and figure it's better late than never.

Piobaireachd lessons work great across the internet. I'd be happy to teach you! Lessons are as frequent as you would like. I recommend lessons every other week or weekly.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Starting from Scratch

I am seeking help about playing the bagpipe. I want to purchase the right one in a respectable price range but I don't have a clue. I am a complete novice but eager to learn. Any and all help that you can give me will be much appreciated.

I would start looking at a good retailer. Tartantown is a nice place to start. Good brands include Naill, McCallum, Walsh, Kron, and Strathmore. You are looking at spending at least $1,000 and probably around $1,500 when you get all the accessories.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Bought new pipes on eBay

I just bought my first set of bagpipes and dont' want to screw anyhting up. I am not sure how to even put them together, so now i turn to you, hoping you can help, and point me in the direction of how I can learn to play.....there are books and dvds but how do i know what's crap and what's good...

Well, I'm sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but you have bought yourself a set of Pakistani-made decorative bagpipes. They are not intended to be played as musical instrument, they are designed for decoration (hanging on a wall, etc.). Real bagpipes are never made of rosewood, never made in Pakistan, and cost around $1000 for a new set.

More info here:

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Piping Performances

I'm looking for a piper to play at my wedding, are you available for such a performance?

YES! I've piped at many weddings/funerals/birthday parties, etc. Just let me know what you need.
Read some testimonials from past satisfied clients. Visit my Performances page for more info.