Published: April 04, 2008

Paradox of the piping times

Hmmm. What would Donald Mor MacCrimmon do?I’ve noticed this year more than ever at how “busy” everyone seems to be, including me. I think technology lures people into thinking that they can or should do more. It sometimes entices us to be too busy to think.

It’s no wonder why many upper-grade bands are trending towards a completely different approach to practicing and preparation. Who has the time to travel two or three times a week to the band hall? Better having one long practice a month when everyone can attend and cram for the season.

Maybe piping and drumming, too, are just placing too many demands and presenting too many opportunities for people to resist the temptation to do more and more. I don’t know how many times in the last year pipers and drummers have said – by e-mail – that they’re up to their ears in it, scrambling to fit in everything.

It’s hard to keep up with a hobby that becomes an avocation. It presents the constant question of whether it’s truly enjoyable, or something that starts to get the better of you.

A famous piper sent me something a few weeks ago that resonated: “Remember, it’s a musical instrument.” That can be taken many ways. But one interpretation is that we should remember that pipes and drums are meant to make enjoyable music, not politics or work or money. Simple, sage words, those.

Along with a brazillion other people, my brother’s a Buddhist and has a rather contemplative view of life. I do, too, I think, but just not in a religious way. As long as someone’s religious beliefs aren’t foisted on me, they can believe whatever they want. Makes no never-mind to me. One can be reflective and look for answers to complex questions without practicing a religion.

The Dali Lama’s been in the news a lot recently, and he’s capable of some equally sage stuff. He says, “We have bigger houses, but smaller families; More conveniences, but less time. We have more degrees, but less sense; More knowledge, but less judgment; More experts, but more problems; More medicines, but less wellness.”

Are we increasing piping and drumming, but decreasing music and fun? Better bands, but fewer friends? Larger circles, but smaller unions?

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