The Royal Scots Cap Badge

I wish I would have kept piping

by Victor
(Chino Valley, Az)

Helix Highlander 1972

Helix Highlander 1972

Its been over 30 years since I was piping,

I have recently began practicing again and I find my breathing is lacking .

Could you recommend any exercises I could do to regain the strength I lack ?

Comments for I wish I would have kept piping

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Apr 15, 2010
I wish I would have ---
by: Bill Robertson

Tamar covers it all very well.
All the best,

Dec 09, 2009
Some tips for improving your breathing
by: Tamar Stephens, Alaska

Your Helix High School photo brings back happy memories. I am sure you must have learned to pipe from John Rosenberger, who was also my first instructor in the latter 1960's! What a patient and wonderful man!

Some ideas on improving your breathing...
1. Use your practice chanter regularly, as this will help strenghten your lips.

2. Pay attention to how you breathe. You should breath from the diaphragm, not from the upper chest. Lay on your back, with one hand over your abdomen. Take a deep breath. If you are breathing from the diaphragm, you will feel your abdomen rise. If you look in the mirror when taking a deep breath, and your shoulders are moving up and down, then you are breathing from your upper chest, and you will not have the volume or strength that you get from diaphragmatic breathing.

3. I learned this clever trick a number of years ago, and any student of mine who has practiced it diligently for about two weeks, has transitioned onto the pipes fairly easily. Take the top half of your practice chanter, fold a paper towel in half three time, then affix it to the bottom of the chanter top with a rubber band. Now take a large bath towel and roll it up firmly and place it under your left arm. Now practice alternating blowing firmly into the chanter top for 4 beats, then squeezing firmly with your left arm for 4 beats. You can do this for several minutes while watching TV, for a few minutes while your breakfast coffee is percolating, or whatever. Two or three short sessions each day will quickly build strength and get you back into the feel of alternating blowing and squeezing.

Happy piping!
- Tamar

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