January 01, 2013

Resolutions #9

New Year’s resolutions are usually about improving on a personal shortcoming or two. Pipers and drummers have no shortage of those, since improvement and striving towards perfection is really what the competition thing is all about. We want to be the best we can be.

I like to make a resolution or two at New Year. This year it’s to listen to more live music – that is, more non-piping/drumming live music.  That and play my pipes every single day.

If you’re stuck for a New Year’s resolution, why not look to broaden your appreciation of things in the piping and drumming world? Some of us tend to put down the things that we don’t understand, or discredit what threatens us, which is completely unfair. Here are a few resolution suggestions:

  • For the person who “hates” piobaireachd – resolve to learn a piece of ceol mor, memorize it, and play it on the pipes. Start with a copy of Piobaireachd Fingerwork, earn the ceol mor rudiments and, even if you’re not a piper, understand how it works. I guarantee your “hate” will turn to appreciation.
  • For those who don’t take tenor-drumming seriously – try it. Get yourself a set of tenor mallets and learn just a bit of flourishing technique. You’ll have a more positive outlook on the difficulty of the art.
  • If you think stewarding is easy – volunteer with your association to help with a contest or two. Find out what the challenges are, and then offer to make positive suggestions to make it better.
  • Sign your real name to every online comment you make – that’s all. You’ll feel a lot better.
  • For the piper who can’t understand why his/her band lags in ensemble – pick up a pair of snare sticks and take a year’s worth of lessons. You’ll start to hear the snare work completely differently, and can help bridge the gap between sections.
  • If you think your association doesn’t serve you well enough – attend branch meetings and discover just how much spare-time work these volunteers put into trying to make things happen for members like you. Don’t have the time? First resolution lesson: be like them and make time.
  • For the person who rarely likes his/her band’s medley – try your hand at composing a tune or arranging harmony. Who knows? You might be a composer-arranger-genius in hiding.
  • Can’t understand why scoresheets don’t always have great feedback? – resolve to put on a solo piping CD, put two minutes between each track and during that time write a crit-sheet. You’ll appreciate just some of the pressure that piping, drumming and pipe band judges undergo accounting for their decisions in writing.
  • Volunteer to write an article for pipes|drums – I happen to have inside information that your story ideas are always welcomed.

The best resolutions are those that make both you a better person and the world a better place. Here’s to a happy and healthy and improved year ahead.


  1. Good article/blog. Comments about giving more, not just taking, are pertinent. For a completely amateur past-time, we sure can put a lot of strain on the few people who actually keep things afloat. Meanwhile we wear $2000 worth of uniform that someone else’s toil paid for. Things like fundraising etc often get forgotten, especially in the ever-increasing mercenary world of pipe bands where the ‘bucket list’ sees a lot of band-hopping and the ‘what’s in it for me’ attitude. Band subs barely make a dent in your total expense ‘footprint’ on the band. Bands don’t own money trees, nor do they have full-time managers. Spare a thought for the voluntary work people do to support your pipe dreams, and maybe take more of an interest in such things. That is, if you drop anchor long enough to even notice before chasing the next band. Comments about tenor drumming – well, if a tenor drummer can swap with me and take my pipes, then meet me back in the same spot 6 months later (to see who’s progressed the furthest) maybe then the appreciation might sit on the right side of the ledger. Tenor drummers are not owed an apology, nor do they need more acknowledgement. They seem to be very adept at finding centre stage.



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