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Playing above their station?

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.. Playing above their station?

Post by Redneck on Tue 10 Jun - 23:43:12

This has been knockin' around in my head from the weekend________________I was standing havin' a wee general chat wi Neil 'n David Anderson at Larne when I spotted Harry Stevenson out of the corner of my eye, I called him over to introduce David to him. There was a young female piper with him ( good young piper), we chatted about a lot of things from pipes, set up of different drones / reeds ect.

Then the conversation turned to solo tune selection, David never once interrupted, but stood listening intently nodding and adding his views, but never interrupt...........this young girl however was the complete opposite.

Having mentioned an old solo stalwart march "Kantara to El Arish" ( played by many top soloists, and won many a solo contest(if played right) ) this girl said it's crap theres nothing in it........using my usual diplomacy a said WTF are ya on about?.......the tune has all requirements of a 2/4 march, just because there isn't 300 notes per bar ( bit of an exaggeration. laughing , but ya get ma drift) doesn't make it a crap tune.

My point is this.........are young pipers playing above their station tryin' to impress with the so called bigger tunes rather than mastering phrasing and the finer arts of correct fingering technique.

There was a case of a friend of mine playing at SPPB solo's, in the junior jig he played Cameronian rant ( jig time ).........only to be told " you'll not impress anyone playing that stuff over here"......the tune I advised him to play was a good, a very good trad' jig Donella Beaton, but no, he hada be jack the lad.

My advice is walk before you run, if the talent is there nurture it, obtain the prizes 'n progress slowly......too many IMO want it yesterday and ain't prepared to put in the ground work.

Yes by all means play at 100mph in the pubs 'n clubs, but the solo circuit is a hard circuit to cut...if yer lucky 'n hit the heights it'll be down to hard work. There's no short cut.

Yet again I'll say.............WALK BEFORE YOU CAN RUN.

Hope this puts into perspective a very important aspect of solo piping, too many good young players have missed out on a prize winning performance by picking tunes not YET within their grasp.

Iain...... Pint
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.. Re: Playing above their station?

Post by Robbie.Crow on Tue 10 Jun - 23:47:42

Iain m8, a tottally agree with you. I learned the hard way - first ever solos' what did i play? Highland Wedding, Atholl Cummers + MacAlisters dirk. In hindsight i wish ida played tunes that i was good at and could play well. BUt hey lesson learned for next time. I t hink you cant tell anyone tho m8, i wouldnt be told - iw anted to do it - and nothing would stop me! What would i play now? Simple 2/4, S & R that i could play WELL and play GOOD scores to..


oh and btw you said "finer arts of correct fingering technique".. i dont thinka ny girl needs advice in that department big grin big grin big grin big grin
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.. Re: Playing above their station?

Post by Piping Connections on Tue 10 Jun - 23:57:02

I agree with you Iain but ime gonna sound like an old fart now lol
when i was learning all i had was the recomendations of the PM or my tutor so what they played or liked then we played, nowadays there are so many ways the young uns can access music infact a tune can be sent from one side of this planet to the other in a matter of seconds.

All this choice makes people experts far too quickly as the desire to play the now easily accesible fancy stuff far outweighs the old stalwarts that learn you good phrasing and techniques.

I can understand the younguns wanting to play them but can never understand or condone them not listening to their peers who have been there before them..

I am playing in a G4 band just now and have been handed Iain green of Greetrax briliant tune but for a mixed G4 pipe corps is questionable to say the least .
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.. Re: Playing above their station?

Post by wee_fee-Fee on Wed 11 Jun - 11:07:30

When I was piping I went to a solo tutor Albert Baillie, ex Black Watch piper. He always taught me that when learning a new tune, play slowly to maintain control. Control should come first then speed. Nobody likes a tune played fast with poor execution. I think my first solo 2/4 march was Brig. General Ronal Cheape of Tiroran it's not a fancy difficult tune but played well is very musical. I remember I competed solos at Stonehaven once and the judge didn't like my strathspey. My dad approached the judge afterwards to get some words of advice and what I could approve upon and the judge said he wanted to hear me play something like The Caledonian Society of London as it is more musical and for my age he wanted to hear a simple effective strathspey played perfect.

However when I went in for solos on the tenor it was different I went in with all guns blazing and played Highland Wedding, Susan MacLeod and John Mackechnie. But suppose its different for us as every score differs and its really up to you as a player how musical and visual you make it.
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.. Re: Playing above their station?

Post by Gordy88 on Wed 11 Jun - 12:08:00

Saw Harry there myself, and know the girl with him,

Glasses, pony tail?

You are bang on about learners and tunes

One thing about fast playing tho'

Some bands encourage it, as it tends to cover up bad expression, lash through it as fast as you can, and the judge wont hear the dirty stuff.

Pity it works sometimes.

Good post

Cheers
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.. Re: Playing above their station?

Post by Dai Robb on Wed 11 Jun - 13:26:17

Had to smile to myself when you said about Diplomacy Iain? that one thing I will always say about you, You call a spade a spade, and if you dont like it? to use your own words. then "feck off"
Must say i agree with everyone and thei comments, hopefully like Robbie? thoe that try and fall flat on their A*** will have the common sense to realise they went to far too fast and slow it down.
Richard also has a good point, when you were younger iain(All those years ago) there was not the same amount of modern gadgets to help.
But i still agree it should be a case of "Slowly slowly catchee monkee"
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.. Re: Playing above their station?

Post by Heilan Mary on Wed 11 Jun - 16:02:28

Agree with entirely, excellent topic to post about. This might be un related but when teaching the Highland Dancing I always start with the basic positions and then pas de basues and pas de basques and highcuts and then move on to fling. But weans being weans want to learn the hard stuff that they see the other more qualified dancers doing instead of learning the basics first. I usually then teach a dance at a time and then dont move on to the next dance till its good enough.
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.. Re: Playing above their station?

Post by orange_wings on Wed 11 Jun - 17:15:35

When I used to play in solo's my very first solo tune at the tender age of 12 or 13... cant remember, was Ken Muirs up n' awa wullie. Boring in comparison to the tunes I play now, but a good tune to start off with, good phrasing.

But now you hear kids playing some very up beat difficult tunes, some of the kids in the Boggies wee band can play some awesome stuff, but I think there is a fine line between having the ability to play a tune and having the ability to play a tune correctly, if they want to play these tunes then they need to be able to play them well or it wont work.

I agree with Richard, young players should take heed of the guidance of their P/M or Solo Tutor, people who have been there and done it all before, it worked for me.
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.. Re: Playing above their station?

Post by True_Blue_Piper on Wed 11 Jun - 17:38:16

I don't think the wording "playing above your station" is suitable....although I get where you're coming from.....

I think it's just a shame that many of the "1/2 way house" tunes are being forgotten about.

The Balmoral Highlanders was always a great introduction to 2/4 marches and likewise strathspeys such as Struan Robertson, and reels such as The Blackberry Bush or Kalabakan.

And yet, you'll still hear top pipers playing these tunes.

If you want to get into the solo field as a beginner.....you need to learn tunes that have a swing to them, tunes that have a beat, and tunes that are not beyond your capability.

I was brought up the same........play tunes that you can play.....and in time you will learn to play the difficult ones. Judges want to hear you playing "more than the usual nonsense" but don't expect the best. They want to hear you playing something that is obviously testing you and which you can accomplish......but not something that is way beyond you.
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.. Re: Playing above their station?

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