On Being a Great Bagpiper

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?

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