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returning to the pipes - having problems

I know I should go join a pipe band, but I wanted to get restarted on the pipes on my own for now. I've not played in 20 years or so - used to play with City of Denver in the mid-80's - but have sporadically pulled out my practice chanter.


I've been trying to get back into playing again and started with just the pipe chanter, no drones. I'm having a lot of difficulty moving from the upper hand to the lower and it feels like I'm blowing my lungs out (even popping out the corks in the drones!). Am I doing something wrong? Am I just that much out of shape? Or could there be a problem with the pipes (P1 poly pipes from Dunbar)?

I appreciate any response. Thanks!

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Sep 12, 2013
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returning to the pipes - having problems
by: Bill Robertson

Hello,
Please se the last two commendts on this that both should help you - one is from anonymous, the other from me. Take things from the beginning on the prctice chatre - the basic fingering, some very easy tunes, athen doublings etc interspersed with suitable not too difficult tunes that you perhaps played before, but better. Take practice sessions regularly but not too much at a time in the early months, say 15-20 minutes concentrated each period twice or so a day. The lips will gradually develop strenght as you go. Recod and listen to your playing on the PC and listen for improvements and any shortcomings that need good attention with methodical correct practise to get things cleary correct with much good repetition. Please go to our site as mentioned ealier in my comments for another person. You can find some basic fingering with a good search through pipe tunes, and pipe articles much with video.
It all takres time with good regular application without "running before you can walk".
Perhaps going along to a reasonably good band nearby should provide you with some help and insentive etc. Pipes have to be well maintaned and setup with good reeds and well balanced sound. There are clues in or site in that Commencing to play in the Tuning pipes section in bagpipe articles. Any questions and clarification simply ask - e mail at; bagpiper1@slingshot.co.nz
All the best,

Bill

Sep 11, 2013
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Another re-starter here
by: Anonymous

I found this page looking for the exact same advice. I used to play with a band, but haven't been on my pipes since 2002.

I too have Dunbar P1 pipes with Synthe-Drone reeds, Little Mac valve, and Canmore plain bag. I got this setup due to living in the southern US humidity.

I figured I'd need to start back on the chanter first to work on fingering and simply getting used to blowing a wind instrument again. Then slowly work up to corked drones to build lung and mouth stamina before eventually trying full pipes. Almost like starting over except for already being familiar with some of the tunes.
And of course looking for a band to play with!

Jan 22, 2011
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Returning to pipes - having problems.
by: Bill Robertson

From what you say, I recommend that you should get back to basics on the practice chanter and work your way back into your music with careful attention to clear good execution, proper controlled rhythm, and allow your lip muscles etc., to gradually gather strength. When approaching the pipes later on please see my commencing to play the pipes in stages when ready in my website main page left under Bagpipe articles and scroll down to Tuning etc.

Also test your bag for airtightness with all stocks, except the blowpipe naturally, corked or stopped with rubber stoppers suitable size. Inflate the bag through your blowpipe with good working valve to test when fully inflated and holding air well for some 30 seconds or so without much discernible leakage.
I trust this helps, and best wishes,
Bill

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