As I work with people learning our great instrument, I find that sometimes we forget that the bagpipes are indeed a “musical” instrument. My goal as a teacher is to develop not only bagpipers, but bagpipe musicians. Along the way, we develop not only fingering skills but also rhythmic skills. I’ve talked a lot about this in the past – about active techniques to develop your ability to read and produce rhythm.
Specifically, as a musician, I find that I am constantly in motion while any music is playing. It’s like Pavlov and his dogs. Hence, I think that you should condition yourself to be in motion whenever you’re playing the pipes. You can do this while listening to music or playing music.
With technology being what it is today, we definitely can’t say we don’t have any opportunity to listen to music. So, you’ve been playing the pipes for a while; how many CD’s do you own?
If you don’t have any, you can buy some from me. I have recently updated my list at: . After you have them, here is what you need to do:
Play them in the car while you are commuting.
Tap along with the music, even if it’s with your thumbs, as you want to become an active listener of music
Tap one thumb first then practice alternating them. You’ll be surprised at how easy it will be to change your thumbs to your feet.
Tapping your feet, alternating between left and right while playing, simulates marching. And since the bagpipe is a marching instrument, it’s a great idea to get used to marching while playing.
So, don’t sit still! It’s time to get moving!