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learning bagpipes - help!!

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alison 27 May 02 - 04:34 AM
GUEST 27 May 02 - 04:39 AM
alison 27 May 02 - 04:46 AM
treewind 27 May 02 - 05:10 AM
treewind 27 May 02 - 05:10 AM
greg stephens 27 May 02 - 05:30 AM
GUEST,mcpiper (cookieless just now) 27 May 02 - 06:48 AM
Pied Piper 27 May 02 - 06:53 AM
GUEST,Adolfo 27 May 02 - 09:55 AM
Mad4Mud 27 May 02 - 01:10 PM
John MacKenzie 27 May 02 - 02:30 PM
GUEST 27 May 02 - 03:18 PM
GUEST,Barry T 27 May 02 - 03:24 PM
weepiper 27 May 02 - 05:33 PM
PeteBoom 27 May 02 - 10:22 PM
alison 28 May 02 - 12:25 AM
GUEST,micca at work 28 May 02 - 04:38 AM
GUEST,Calum (u38cg@hotmail**EAT*THIS.SPAMMERS**com 28 May 02 - 08:20 AM
weepiper 28 May 02 - 02:03 PM
Mary in Kentucky 28 May 02 - 03:08 PM
PeteBoom 28 May 02 - 03:11 PM
John MacKenzie 28 May 02 - 03:37 PM
michaelr 29 May 02 - 01:32 AM
michaelr 29 May 02 - 01:40 AM
alison 29 May 02 - 01:55 AM
Pied Piper 29 May 02 - 09:19 AM
PeteBoom 29 May 02 - 09:55 AM
Pied Piper 30 May 02 - 09:02 AM
GUEST,yum yum 30 May 02 - 11:37 AM
GUEST,yum yum 30 May 02 - 11:54 AM
alison 30 May 02 - 09:29 PM
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Subject: learning bagpipes - help!!
From: alison
Date: 27 May 02 - 04:34 AM

OK... I am fully expecting smart arse comments.... but........ here goes anyway....

I am learning the bagpipes after picking up a set last time I was home....

I am happily playing my practice chanter..... BUT.... I can only do it sitting down..... if I stand up and try to blow, I get so dizzy that it feels like I am about to faint ('Spaw you can shut up right now.. I can already hear your brain clicking over!!... *grin*).... and this is only on a practice chanter the real thing will take more air.....

as a whistler / flautist I am used to breath control... but on a much smaller scale......

does your lung capacity get better? or am I doomed to be a sitting down piper?

any pipers out there have any advice?

slainte

alison


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Subject: RE: learning bagpipes - help!!
From: GUEST
Date: 27 May 02 - 04:39 AM

You could learn the Northumbrian Smallpipes instead...


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Subject: RE: learning bagpipes - help!!
From: alison
Date: 27 May 02 - 04:46 AM

I have uilleann pipes..... and I'm still wrestling with them... although I think I'm starting to win.....

slainte

alison


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Subject: RE: learning bagpipes - help!!
From: treewind
Date: 27 May 02 - 05:10 AM

What sort of pipes? I assume Scottish Highland, since you talk about a practice chanter.

I'm suprised that you get dizzy, since my experience of dizziness has only been with instruments that use a lot of air (my first lesson on Bulgarian kaval was the most spectacular) and I thought the pipes needed lots of pressure but not much airflow. For instance during the same trip to Bulgaria I also started on gaida and that didn't make me dizzy.

I play Leicestershire smallpipes and while there are plenty of problems to overcome, especially as I'm not a wind player, dizziness wasn't one of them.
My kaval experience suggests that you get used to it.
The fact thet you already play flute, on the other hand, suggests that this is a slightly different type of problem. Maybe there's a difference between the practice chanter and the real chanter + bag that helps with the dizziniess problem, but not while you're practicing...????

I'll be following this thread with interest...

Anahata


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Subject: RE: learning bagpipes - help!!
From: treewind
Date: 27 May 02 - 05:10 AM

What sort of pipes? I assume Scottish Highland, since you talk about a practice chanter.

I'm suprised that you get dizzy, since my experience of dizziness has only been with instruments that use a lot of air (my first lesson on Bulgarian kaval was the most spectacular) and I thought the pipes needed lots of pressure but not much airflow. For instance during the same trip to Bulgaria I also started on gaida and that didn't make me dizzy.

I play Leicestershire smallpipes and while there are plenty of problems to overcome, especially as I'm not a wind player, dizziness wasn't one of them.
My kaval experience suggests that you get used to it.
The fact thet you already play flute, on the other hand, suggests that this is a slightly different type of problem. Maybe there's a difference between the practice chanter and the real chanter + bag that helps with the dizziniess problem, but not while you're practicing...????

I'll be following this thread with interest...

Anahata


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Subject: RE: learning bagpipes - help!!
From: greg stephens
Date: 27 May 02 - 05:30 AM

I fainted once playing a bagpipe chanter with which I was unfamiliar. It is precisely the lackof airflow that makes you dizzy: you are maintaininng a high pressure in your lungs, but not blowing out much air. Accordingly your lungs are using up the oxygen in the normal way, and replacing it with CO2, but you aren't lowering the pressure in your lungs so the breathing reflex isnt being triggered. hence you go dizzy from lack of oxygen in your blood. That's how itweas explained to me anyway, when I got up offthe floor! The remedy is not to concentrate on the music too much, and remember consciously to breathe, till you get used to it.


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Subject: RE: learning bagpipes - help!!
From: GUEST,mcpiper (cookieless just now)
Date: 27 May 02 - 06:48 AM

Hi, I have played the Highland pipes since I was ten years old, and can remember becoming dizzy when I first started, especially when I started on tunes on the practice chanter, and tried to play for a complete part. Maybe if you just play the chanter for a shorter time, ie, stop for breaths more often, until you build up the technique or capacity for longer blows.Even now I find a long session on the practice chanter harder work than a session on the pipes. A couple of points to remember. To make it easier for yourself later on, do not allow your cheeks to blow out, I have seen more problems through players not getting a seal around the mouthpiece because of this, than possibly any other single cause. When the cheeks expand it seems to detract from the lips gripping the blowpipe. Having said that, I have seen a few pipers play with puffed out cheeks, but not many. Another helpfull idea may be to go to pipe band contests or recitals and watch how pipers blow. Top bands have a complete lack of movement amongst the pipers, they stand stock still and play. Basically if your pipes are set up right,and you are comfortable with them, there is no need for any movement of shoulders, or huge arm movements. One last thing, try to blow from your diaphragm, not from your chest. I find blowing a really hard set of pipes gives me a dull ache around the lower back , just below the ribcage. If your shoulders are pumping up and down as you play, you may need to improve your technique. Much of this is in the future for you, but I believe that correct blowing is as important as any other technique you have to learn. Without this you will not blow tone, or keep a constant sound.
Keep it up, I hope you get as much enjoyment from the instrument as I have had for the last 38 years.
Cheers, mcpiper


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Subject: RE: learning bagpipes - help!!
From: Pied Piper
Date: 27 May 02 - 06:53 AM

I've always had difficulty playing the practice chanter on its own. The problem for me is that unlike the full pipes when you take a breath the music stops, and as the amount of air you've exhaled is small you have to breath out before you can breath in again. All this takes time, makes the music disjointed, and means you have to learn a skill useless on the full Pipes. One answer is to attach your practice chanter to a bag (called for some reason a goose) these are readily available in shops that sell Piping stuff. Now you can take a breath when you like without the music stopping just like on the full Pipes. Another problem with practice chanters, is that even some quite expensive ones are badly out of tune. I now use an electronic chanter (Deger) that sound just like the full pipes and always plays in tune. Hope this is helpful PP


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Subject: RE: learning bagpipes - help!!
From: GUEST,Adolfo
Date: 27 May 02 - 09:55 AM

You could also try the Galician pipe (that's the one I play, anyway). But, whatever you do, part (and not the least)of the fun of being a piper is you can march up an down your garden (nearest public park, seashore...). Good luck.


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Subject: RE: learning bagpipes - help!!
From: Mad4Mud
Date: 27 May 02 - 01:10 PM

It could be that you are using too strong a reed and are forced to blow harder. Try substituting a weaker one and see if you have the same problem.


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Subject: RE: learning bagpipes - help!!
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 27 May 02 - 02:30 PM

Alison if I remember aright you don't live too far from where my son lives in Quechee VT, he used to play the pipes when he was younger, perhaps he could help. PM me if interested.....Giok


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Subject: RE: learning bagpipes - help!!
From: GUEST
Date: 27 May 02 - 03:18 PM

Giok, Alison lives in Australia...


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Subject: RE: learning bagpipes - help!!
From: GUEST,Barry T
Date: 27 May 02 - 03:24 PM

Many learners try to extend (maintain sound) too long before taking a breath. As your capacity increases you will be able to play a part without taking a breath, but it's not critical that you do at this stage.

If you have reached the stage where you're 'chantering' on the march, the suggestion above with respect to getting a goose adaptor for your GHP is a good one. Just cork off all the drones (actually I prefer to leave the bass drone operating), and enjoy periods of extended playing without the hyper-/hypo- ventilating issue.

On the practice chanter, whether seated or 'on the trot' it's a good technique to learn to take your breaths in or around the third measure of the lines, so that you are 'playing through' the ends of lines and ends of parts. That will pay off bigtime when you switch to the pipes.


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Subject: RE: learning bagpipes - help!!
From: weepiper
Date: 27 May 02 - 05:33 PM

Alison, it's ok to get dizzy... I think everyone does at first. I'm not sure why it only happens when you're standing up though (note to self: try playing pc standing up later!). What everyone's said about taking a breath sooner than you think you need to is good advice.

I found the main problem I had at first with the pc was sore/numb lips and cheeks from maintaining a good seal round the mouthpiece. This is something that gets much better with time though. I wish someone had told me when I first started that biting the mouthpiece makes it harder to seal. Eventually I worked out that the most comfortable position (for me!) is with the mouthpiece sort of resting on the front of my teeth and lips "kissing" the end of it.

Here's a really good piping forum where I have learnt many useful things. :-)


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Subject: RE: learning bagpipes - help!!
From: PeteBoom
Date: 27 May 02 - 10:22 PM

Alison - A post above said you were in Australia. If so, where in Australia (or anywhere else) are you? The easiest way to learn the GHBP is to find a teacher. My guess is you would not really be interested in playing with a pipe band and simply would like to become a competent player. There are piles of solo teachers around - many of them quite good. The "learn to play the bagpipe" videos and whatnot that are out are a start - but don't rely exlusively on them.

As far as learning to care for pipes, the "Pipes Ready!" video by Jim MacGillivary is very good. His "Pipes Up!" video is also very good and deals with tuning, etc.

Cheers -

Pete


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Subject: RE: learning bagpipes - help!!
From: alison
Date: 28 May 02 - 12:25 AM

I'm in Sydney and I do have a teacher from one of the top pipe bands in the area.......... I was just looking for some extra advice.....
and thanks for the advice ... its great and keep it coming.... I'm just glad I'm not the only one who gets dizzy....

it does happen sitting down too... but not as noticeable as when standing.....

and to whoever asked away back up this thread.. yes they are highland pipes.....

slainte

alison


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Subject: RE: learning bagpipes - help!!
From: GUEST,micca at work
Date: 28 May 02 - 04:38 AM

Hi Ali,as a Bodhran player and accordionist already and now the bagpipes, all you need is to take up the Banjo and you can be the butt of all the jokes!!!,( ou must Hate your neighbours!!!) Good luck, ,


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Subject: RE: learning bagpipes - help!!
From: GUEST,Calum (u38cg@hotmail**EAT*THIS.SPAMMERS**com
Date: 28 May 02 - 08:20 AM

From your original post it sounds like you've stood up and started blowing straight away. This can be a bad plan - when you stand up suddenly after sitting down for a while your blood pressure drops for a few seconds until your circulatory system evens it all out. If you're standing up and immediately playing, you probably are denying your brain oxygen quite suddenly, which it won't like.

In any case, there is absolutely no need to be standing up when playing your PC anyway. Sit down, concentrate on technique, and worry about big pipes when you get round to it. Practice chanter playing is in many ways harder work than blowing a properly set up GHB, but you will find it useful training. The dizziness is nothing more or less than a cardio-vascular fitness question, and it doesn't matter how fit you are in an athletic sense. You are now putting quite different demands on yourself from normal athletic requirements. Daily playing will sort you out in the long run. When you come to pipes, you will find that this dizziness is not a problem, because on the pipes you breathe at a more or less normal rate and oxygen deprivation will not be a problem.

I wouldn't worry overmuch about geese or other training aids. You're aiming to play the bagpipe, not the goose or anything else. A good maxim is "Lots of practice chantering makes you a good practice chanterer". It will bring only diminishing returns to your pipe playing. As soon as you can hack through a tune, get the pipes up and going. Use the PC only for

(a) Learning tunes. (b) Practicing specific techniques that you are having trouble playing on the pipes. (c) Traffic jams

Play everything else on pipes. Too many pipers effectively play bagpipes as their second instrument, focussing on their PCs. It's an easy trap to fall into.

And finally, there is a superb bagpipe forums site at http://www.bobdunsire.com/cgi-bin/ultimatebb.cgi

which is moderated by some of the world's finest pipers and read by some more as well. You will find a lot of knowledgable help and support there (and me, from time to time).

Hope some of this rambling is of some use. Feel free to email me with questions or whatever.

Cheers, Calum


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Subject: RE: learning bagpipes - help!!
From: weepiper
Date: 28 May 02 - 02:03 PM

The site Calum posted above is the same as my blueclicky a few posts back, there you will also find me under my real name, Holly Taylor. It is a really good site


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Subject: RE: learning bagpipes - help!!
From: Mary in Kentucky
Date: 28 May 02 - 03:08 PM

...just another random thought here...

Chorus teachers have long realized that students faint during concerts because they lock their knees when standing (nervously during a concert). Are you moving about when standing?


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Subject: RE: learning bagpipes - help!!
From: PeteBoom
Date: 28 May 02 - 03:11 PM

Ah, Sydney - throw a stone and hit a piper.

Calum's comments above give part of the clue. One piper I know calls himself "a very in-shape piper in a very out-of-shape body." He could not run 50 feet if he had to, but can play pipes like he's... well, a professional (open) solo competitor capable of playing with any band he fancied - good thing he is and does.

The point is, the PC will get your fingers used to making the moves and learning the ornaments. There is much heated debate about "blowing tone" on the PC and transfering it to pipes. At the same time, learning the tune on the PC is one thing, remembering the bloody thing when you pick up the pipes is another story. For that reason, the above referenced piper has his students memorize the tune completely before moving it to pipes.

Most bands rush learners onto pipes long before they are ready - this is a tremendous dis-service to the learner and does nothing to foster the actual playing of the pipes. Remember - take your time, it is not quite like any other instrument.

Cheers - fondly remembering the Grade 1 Vic Police and drinking many beers with players in Western Australia Police Pipe Band a year or so ago...

Pete


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Subject: RE: learning bagpipes - help!!
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 28 May 02 - 03:37 PM

Sorry Alison, got you mixed up with a mudcatter who is also called Alison, but posts under a different name. As they are saying in another thread, it's my age you know... Giok


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Subject: RE: learning bagpipes - help!!
From: michaelr
Date: 29 May 02 - 01:32 AM

I'm not a piper, but what Calum said makes sense to me: You're learning to play the bagpipes - moving the air and trying to control the flow by mouth can only be a distraction!

Oh, and you say you have uileann pipes? I say concentrate on them and be done with blowing altogether... and they sound so much nicer.

Cheers,
Michael


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Subject: RE: learning bagpipes - help!!
From: michaelr
Date: 29 May 02 - 01:40 AM

oh, and happy birthday!


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Subject: RE: learning bagpipes - help!!
From: alison
Date: 29 May 02 - 01:55 AM

hahaha... thanks

bagpipes CANNOT be as difficult as the uilleann pipes....... hence the desire to try the highland pipes

slainte

alison


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Subject: RE: learning bagpipes - help!!
From: Pied Piper
Date: 29 May 02 - 09:19 AM

Hi Alison good luck with learning, lots of good advice here. When your up and playing your full set, why not try using different drone tunings. I made myself an F drone from the bottom and top sections of Pakistani Bass drone, and it really makes tunes from the Northumbrian tradition come alive. I've even been known to slide my Bass drone rite up to C to play some tunes (gives a great eastern scale with the chanter C natural (actual Db/C#); but don't tell any "traditional" pipers, as they tend to get wound up by things like that. All the best PP


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Subject: RE: learning bagpipes - help!!
From: PeteBoom
Date: 29 May 02 - 09:55 AM

HERESY! Drones are tuned to A!

(Just no one tell my Pipe Major that 475 is not A - B flat pushing toward B...)

;-)

Polkemet had a hornpipe or somesuch one one of their albums some time ago - featuring C natural. They never played it in competition as far as I know... don't know why... (hee hee hee hee)

Pete


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Subject: RE: learning bagpipes - help!!
From: Pied Piper
Date: 30 May 02 - 09:02 AM

Hi Pete have you tried the Deger electronic chanter? I've used it a lot in sessions and my ceilidh band its great. All the best PP.


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Subject: RE: learning bagpipes - help!!
From: GUEST,yum yum
Date: 30 May 02 - 11:37 AM

Alison, Why not try playing a 'goose'. (no funny comments --please) it's a practice set of pipes for the Highland Bagpipes. They consist of bag, practice chanter and blowstick. When the bag is full it's easier to keep the chanter going and it's the first step to getting the full set up and running. I've mad dozens of set for folk over the yers and they said it helped. (I'm not trying to sell you a set - I live in N.Ireland) Tere are lots of pipebag makers about who could put a set together for you. It's only a suggestion. Good luck!

slan

Yum yum


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Subject: RE: learning bagpipes - help!!
From: GUEST,yum yum
Date: 30 May 02 - 11:54 AM

Sorry for the spelling errors --trying to type too fast.


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Subject: RE: learning bagpipes - help!!
From: alison
Date: 30 May 02 - 09:29 PM

hi Yum Yum... are you the pipemaker from Comber?...

slainte

alison


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