Sunday, August 3, 2008

Workshop with Donald Blair and Merran Moir from Warrnambool and District pipe and Drums

Good Evening all
Just thought I would fill everyone in on the workshop today at Scotch "Hogwarts" College.
It was a very good day, started at 10am and finished around 4.30ish.
I, Andy T that is, attended the learners' section. There were about 15 people in attendance, at various levels of playing; a good bunch of people, ready to listen and learn.
First session Donald Blair took, informing us about teaching learners for many years, and the difficulties associated, being geographically isolated.
The Warrnambool Band has been very successful, in this area, moving from Grade 2 to Grade 4, and producing very good players.
We then got out chanters, and he went around the tables, getting people to play various embellishments, and a couple of bars from a tune we knew.
He said the bottom hand movements tend to be a problem, and produced a neat little exercise to prove it.
Then went on to the Taorluath movement, and broke it down, as many people struggle to play two low G's. Then we had a go at the Crunluath movement, although for Pibroch, he encourages it for good finger work> This man was no slouch on the Chanter!
Everyone got out pipes, and he had a quick look to see where they were tuning. He then went through various areas about pipes - then time for a coffee and some chit chat.
After the break we had Donald's daughter, Merran, who has played at Grade 1
She also has ways on teaching learners. They spend a lot of time on embellishments, and has some nice down the scale, dittos. At this point I must say, their teachings are very similar as to how I was taught by both Angus's Snr and Jnr. All the scale dittos she played, I have heard young Angus play on the p chanter.
They also encourage all their players to enter solo competitions; they think it helps with a pipers overall development,
We then went through Scotland the Brave, slowing down C doublings for this tune. We all asked Merran about breaking down a tune, and she gave us her method, for doing this; time for lunch...
At lunch caught up with Malcolm Massie. Had a good chat about the cabaret, and his recent trip to Scotland with his band. All we missed was having a beer!
After lunch Craig Masson took a session on some timings, 2/4, 4/4 etc, and again encouraging people to have a go at solos. He also talked about Pibroch, and encouraging all to have a little listen, he then taught us the Variation 1 of "Hail to My Country". Being a Pibroch fan I thoroughly enjoyed this session. They encourage it for blowing , and learning to hear notes. I know it's not for everyone, but I like it.
Merran then had a little session on 6/8's, which was enjoyable, she played some very nice ones on the practice chanter. We all played "Cock of the North" and "Bonnie Dundee".
The last session was hosted by Brett Tidswell and Andy Fuller from City of Adelaide. It was all about looking after and setting up pipes.
I think sometimes we take it for granted, our pipes will just work, without any maintenance. A lot of this was visual, and too hard to explain here. I took a lot from this area, but for a learner like myself, it was well worth seeing.
All in all, for me personally, it was well worth the trip. I would have no hesitation about going to the next workshop.
Andy T

Peter where were you?


Tanundapiper said...


You won't believe it! I'll tell you on Tuesday.

- Peter

Old Angus said...

Well done Andrew. You are on the right track.