• The Bagpipe Happiness Principle

    Friday, September 26, 2014

    Time is money, they say. If that is true, then what are you spending your money (time) on? “They” also say money can’t buy happiness. But I disagree….

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  • john-coltrane

    On Being a Great Bagpiper

    Monday, September 22, 2014

    As pipers and drummers, it is easy to get so wrapped up in the “Highland” arts that we forget that the experience of making music is mostly the same for players of any instrument.

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  • P1020731

    Pipehacker Project: The Chanter Cap Reed Dryer

    Monday, September 15, 2014

    The chanter cap has become as ubiquitous a part of the pipe box as a roll of black tape. But moisture left on the reed after playing can…

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  • pipehacker_smalltunes_2014

    Small Tunes Podcast: “The Red Coat”

    Friday, September 5, 2014

    “The Red Coat” is tune that evokes the image of pressing red-coated English infantryman—something that has been forever burned into the American cultural consciousness. The “strathspey” is also something forever burned into the musical consciousness of all pipers. Download the score and listen to the podcast for more background and a rendition of the tune on the bagpipe.

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  • pipehacker_smalltunes_2014

    Small Tunes Podcast: “Jack Ashore”

    Friday, August 22, 2014

    In this episode we travel to Victorian England and get a taste of life on the docks of London with “Jack Ashore,” a tune composed by Harry B. Murray in 1909. The term “Jack ashore” was a common reference to a sailor or sailors, or a Jack Tar, who had come into port with the carousing and antics one would expect after being at sea for many months. Download the score and listen to the podcast for more background and a rendition of the tune on the bagpipe.

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  • pipehacker_smalltunes_2014

    Small Tunes Podcast: “He’s O’e...

    Friday, March 28, 2014

    We open this episode with an old joke that slags bagpipers but is connected to the very old melody “Over the Hills and Far Away.” Listen to the podcast for more background and a rendition of the tune on the bagpipe.

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  • pipehacker_smalltunes_2014

    Small Tunes Podcast: “Deirdre’s Lament”

    Friday, March 14, 2014

    St. Patrick’s Day is but a few days away, so why not bring out a little something from the emerald isle. This episode’s tune is a very old…

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  • pipehacker_reedtech18

    Pipehacker Project: The Reed-Hack Survival Pack

    Thursday, March 6, 2014

    The Highland bagpipers need to be versed in all the skills to sound their best. In the true Pipehacker tradition, here is a sporran-sized, exquisitely portable survival kit for reedsmithing and manipulation. Make your own pipe-hacked, miniaturized versions of the tools you need for reed-hacking while practicing or fine tuning before performance time.

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Sep
26

Author:

1 Comment

The Bagpipe Happiness Principle

Time is money, they say. If that is true, then what are you spending your money (time) on? “They” also say money can’t buy happiness. But I disagree. If you spend smartly, you can use your hard-earned cash on things that will improve and/or add value to, your life—the things that will bring you closer to happiness. The same applies to bagpiping (or any music making for that matter). Your precious and scarce bagpiping time (money) should be spent practicing the things that will truly add value and improve your bagpiping. Why would you spend your time any other way? If you take a close look at all of your own piping activity, you might be surprised by the amount of time you spend on things that do not bring improvement or progress.

Time, like money, is something we always want more of. But spending what you have wisely can “buy” you the things that will bring bagpiping happiness. This will not be the same for everyone but, if you are identifying what will bring you value, it is sure to produce the happiness you seek. Therefore, let me offer the Bagpipe Happiness Principle: Spend your time on the things that will actually improve your piping.

Sep
22

Author:

Comment

On Being a Great Bagpiper

john-coltrane

As pipers and drummers, it is easy to get so wrapped up in the “Highland” arts that we forget that the experience of making music is mostly the same for players of any instrument. And like pipers and drummers, most players of any instrument love to opine on their art! It doesn’t take a whole’lot of research to dig for inspiration from the thoughts of the great ones. As the bagpipe competition season winds down, and we set our plans goals for next year, it behooves us to spend time reflecting on advice from other musicians in our never-ending quest for musical enlightenment.

One tip that packs a simple punch comes from the great sax player John Coltrane:

“If you want to be a better musician, be a better person.”

That could mean a lot of different things to a different people. But the essence of the meaning to me boils down to basic things that grandpa taught me: be true and authentic. Be true to your ideals and values. Be compassionate, be caring, be gracious. Create and nurture relationships. Develop the capacity to forgive yourself and others. Be courageous. Be impeccable. Be open to learning, growth, and change. Make the world a better place.

What does it mean to you?

Projects

P1020731

Pipehacker Project: The Chanter Cap Reed Dryer

Monday, September 15, 2014

The chanter cap has become as ubiquitous a part of the pipe box as a roll of black tape. But moisture left on the reed after playing can…

pipehacker_reedtech18

Pipehacker Project: The Reed-Hack Survival Pack

Thursday, March 6, 2014

The Highland bagpipers need to be versed in all the skills to sound their best. In the true Pipehacker tradition, here is a sporran-sized, exquisitely portable survival kit for reedsmithing and manipulation. Make your own pipe-hacked, miniaturized versions of the tools you need for reed-hacking while practicing or fine tuning before performance time.

pipehacker_bagpipe_gauge_00

Top Pipehacker Project in 2013: The Piper’s Perfect Pressure Gauge

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

The bagpiping world seems to be divided up into two groups: 1) The denizens of bagpipe internet forums who are sure manometers, i.e., tubes filled with water, will…

watertrap

Pipehacker Project: The Black Strap Water Trap

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Moisture to the bagpiper is like DDT to the mosquito. A build up of too much moisture in your instrument means certain death of your reeds and nothing…

ZoomH2pipehacker

Pipehacker Project: Recording Your Professional Personal Piping Performances

Friday, June 29, 2012

You’re serious about your bagpiping, right? Of course you are. You take all the necessary steps to treat your instrument with care and acquire all the skills and…

pipehacker_bagpipe_gauge_00

Pipehacker Project: The Piper’s Perfect Pressure Gauge

Friday, February 3, 2012

The bagpiping world seems to be divided up into two groups: 1) The denizens of bagpipe internet forums who are sure manometers, i.e., tubes filled with water, will…

pipehacker_waxedhemp9

Pipehacker Project: Waxing Hemp-ish

Friday, November 4, 2011

Having well hemped joints on your bagpipe is a critical part of a well set-up and efficient instrument. The hemp used should use a good amount of black…

practicechanterreedrebuild

Pipehacker Project: Rebuild and Resurrect a Practice Chanter Reed

Friday, June 24, 2011

Never chuck a good reed. Wait. Did I say that already once before? Well, it’s true, and if you’ve been at this bagpipes thing for any length of…

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