Stop, drop and roll is what we teach people to do if they are ever on fire.  We need to have something like that when it comes to practicing.  Practicing isn’t about playing something over and over again until something happens.  What we need to do is practice using SID.  SID stands for stop, isolate and drill.  As you are learning a new tune you might come across a passage that you’re having a problem executing.  At that point you should stop, isolate it by circling it with a pencil, and then take it apart and drill it.  My job as a teacher is to teach you how to practice during the week following your lesson.  That includes teaching you how to take things apart and drill them.  When you come back to this particular sheet of music the next day, you should start with the items that you circled.  Drill those and then go back and play it from the beginning.

The other thing you should do when you practice, especially on the practice chanter, is to play, “big, slow and open”.  You need to play slow enough so that you play every single note.  As you do this, you learn to control what you play.  When you get your pipes, you should make an agreement with yourself that, whenever you play the practice chanter, you are going to play “big, slow and open”.  When you play the pipes, in most cases you will be playing at “parade speed”.

I’ve seen many new bagpiper’s technique go right down the toilet when they graduate from the chanter only and get their pipes and a kilt.  At that point, a lot of them think they have made it into the big leagues.  The also feel that they are ready to play at your family’s special event, but that’s a subject for another day.

The point is that if you practice “SID” and “BSO” you will become a piper that people want to hear NOW.