As much as John Joe Badger loves his borrowed practice set, even with all of its idiosyncrasies (and don’t all sets have their idiosyncrasies?), he’s begun to consider the acquisition of a practice set of his own. Perhaps even a “half set”, which would surely complicate matters.
John Joe consults his latest issue of Piper’s Weekly……
Where does an average badger of modest means even begin to look for such a set? Does he go for a freshly made set of pipes? Or a well loved set, which might come along with adopted issues. Who are the best makers? Does he seek a maker near to him and to his climactic locale? Or does he dare contact one of the makers in Ireland….? These are the questions that keep our dear John Joe awake at night these days.
These, and the humidity levels (or lack thereof) here in late winter.
There are many varieties of the notion of “bagpipe” to be found in many cultures across the globe. The Uillean pipes are just one. But since we gather the air into the bag which activates the reed in our chanter with a bellows, versus blowing up the bag of air with our own lungs, we often get curious questions from onlookers….
Yes, they are truly and actually a proper set of bagpipes. Yes, we play “real” bagpipes. And we use a bellows, pumped by our elbow (Irish for elbow is uillean) to blow them up. Hopefully this clears things up for poor John Joe Badger and his piping friends who manage to field all kinds of questions while out in the world playing.
Thanks to my flute teacher (who also plays Gallician pipes) John, and my pipes teacher Cathy for the inspiration for this week’s illustration. Each of them have heard it all over the years!
Here are some examples of “other” piping traditions….
John Joe Badger hasn’t been much of a piper these last few days. He has traveled many miles to visit different forests than his own. He thoroughly enjoyed the company of his friends from other places. But he missed his musical practice and the comforts of his very own hut.
We shall brew a cup of tea to nurse this head cold, often a side effect of getting out into the world at large. And perhaps we will coax the pipes out of their slumber a bit in the coming days. What do you like best about traveling, and about coming back home….?
It has been one of those weeks for John Joe Badger and company. Sometimes that’s just the way it is. Life intervenes with unexpected catastrophes, things are dropped and perhaps broken, loved ones fall ill and must be attended to. We are all in this together.
When things are a bit shattered and scattered, and we have taken stock of damages, the next thing to do is to put the kettle on. A good strong cup of tea is called for.
After a few flying fecks have shot through the air, we always come back around to the tunes – once the dust has settled, and the tea has warmed and soothed our frazzled nerves.
Hopefully John Joe will have a more musical post for you all next week. He’s been fiddling with the reed in his pipes and is beginning to “get his crow back”. Stay tuned!!
Piping is tricky. Most days it seems like an impossible task. We hear the playing of one of the greats, and we think, “there is absolutely no way I’ll ever even get one note which has the magic of that…..” but we honk away and carry on anyway, the attempt at puzzling it all out being one of the reasons for it all.
Like so many things in this strange life, the beauty of playing any musical instrument is in the process of capturing the seemingly incapturable, and of occasionally being granted a glimpse of it. Much of the time, it is like turning lead to gold. Impossible. But we keep trying.
The pipers are learning a new march this quarter, their fingers attempt the gymnastics of a classic pipers move, The Cran. They bubble and dwiddle, sparkle and dribble, deedle and didle and work their way toward the classic cran and that “stuttering warble.”
Carry on pipers!! Carry on John Joe! The world needs your music.
It is the dawning of a new year, nay – a NEW DECADE!!!!! With this comes the courage to try new things, to meet new friends and learn to trust more in the old friends we have.
John Joe Badger is keen as ever, and maybe more so, to continue his journey into this new and exciting chapter of his playing. What will you do this next, new year to challenge yourself? With whom shall you share these times?
Old friends or familiar, known tunes or new, let this next year and new decade be one of brave new adventures into the challenging and unknown of what you love most.
Bliain nua shona duit, mo chairde. We will see you in 2020.
It is the eve of Christmas. There are parties to attend with fellow creatures, many feasts to enjoy, gifts and food to share. John Joe is careful to capture solitude amidst this holiday chaos.
Along the way, while practice may fall wayward, John Joe Badger takes some time to listen. Playing is important, yes, but the real trick to learning is the listening. So between parties and other such social mayhem, put on a favorite record of your favorite player, playing your favorite tunes. It is yet another way of learning.
Merry Christmas season to all. May you find light returning to you in whatever form it takes.
John Joe Badger has worked and worked for weeks on his own, amidst countless cups of tea, and twigs on the fire in the woodstove. This week, in spite of his misgivings, he accepts the invitation of friends to share a few tunes. Perhaps he will try to play the one simple tune he’s (mostly) learned for them on his pipes. Or, more likely, he will play his flute or penny whistle.
But tunes are made to be shared. And for this John Joe is grateful.