Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Life lessons from learning the bagpipes

I recently sent a note to the parents of one of my young piping students describing some of the many life lessons a person can learn from learning the pipes.

1. the ability to learn to perform under pressure (defined as any situation where your actions can directly affect the outcome)
2. the ability to take criticism without taking it personally (despite our focus on the positives, much of learning music is about what not working so well)
3. learning to meet deadlines, so you have to work hard even when you don't feel like it
4. learning to take disappointments in stride (when the outcome is determined by stranger, i.e., competition judge, you learn that some things in life are arbitrary)
5. learning to get back up once you've feel knocked down, instead of letting it keep you down.
6. learning to set long term goals and managing your practice schedule to meet those goals by finding more immediate short term goals.
7. learning to focus on many different things at one time (there's so many things involved in playing an instrument: timing, hand position, expression, unison, dynamics).
8. learning that positive thinking often leads to positive results; negative thoughts can have a self-fulfilling element to them.
9. learning that progress is not linear; sometimes you learn a lot of things quickly, othertimes you go through plateaus where things feel stagnant.
10. you learn to be good at something!

I've added to this list over the years, some are my own ideas, some are gathered from others. A great book to help stay motivated to practice is Not Until You've Done Your Practice by Philip Johnston. It's geared toward kids, but there are great tips for pipers of any age.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

New Album Coming Soon!

As you might already know, I've been working hard on my first solo studio album. It has been a tremendous experience and we are in the final stages. The music has been recorded, the tracks have been mixed, and the album has been mastered. There are a few details to be worked out with the cover art and package design and the album will be off to the printer.

Here are a few photos from the studio.

Friday, January 18, 2008

2007: What a great year!

I'm a few days late, but I wanted to wish everyone a Happy New Year! May it be filled with lots of exciting travels, great new tunes, and fun experiences.

I've updated my list of prizes from the past year. There were some real highlights.

Check them out.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Double Gold!

Over the weekend I was in Kansas City for the annual Winter Storm piping festival and U.S. Gold Medal piping competitions. I'm thrilled that I won the Gold Medal for Piobaireachd for the second time. I won the first Gold Medal back in 2004 and now I'm the first piper to win it twice.

You can watch my winning performance thanks to the modern day miracle of YouTube.

Part 1:

Part 2: