Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Welcome to 2013

I look at my practice chanter that is now in my basement, covered in dust and surrounded by boxes and furniture that I did not wish to receive.  That which was expected has happened, and now it is time for a new day.  2013 brings this to me.

I choose to embrace it.

Thank you all so much for your support during this difficult time.  Thank you most of all to Railroad Piper who played Amazing Grace for me the last day I was in the office full time.  That was such a wonderful gift and I thank you with all my heart.  It seems so long ago and also like it was yesterday.

2012 has been a very somber and fearful year for me, but one that I am thankful to have been able to do what I could.  With trepidation, I survived 2012 and I look back on this year with fondness - but also with a willing desire to start fresh, to begin anew. 

This girl needs some bagpipes!!!

So are you ready Railroad Piper?  Your student is back.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Where did she go?

Sometimes in life you have to listen to your surroundings.  You may not want to, you may try to close the door, lean against it and cry out "I DON'T WANNA" like a child in order to lock out the rest of the world.  There are times in life when you just can't do that.

I'm knee deep in one of those times right now. 

My father is ill. Not to mince words, this is the kind of ill you don't recover from.  This is not new information, but here lately every week there is something new to worry about.  I have to do this from 650 miles away.  The stress is showing it's signs - take for example 3 root canals in 8 days you may have read about.

I want to learn the bagpipes.  I truly do.  I also don't want to disappoint - myself, the people I've talked to about this journey or any of you.  But right now, I don't think is the right time for me to do this.  I find so much joy in the concept of the pipes and the vision of seeing me out in a field.  Today as I packed up my things at work after an arduous day, I heard myself say, "I have to go to class tonight", not "I WANT to go to class tonight".  Why do I have to go to class?  Because I committed to, not because I've improved a stitch since the last class. I've gotten a number of practice sessions in during the last two weeks and I find my patience with myself isn't what it should be.  I think this is the universe saying to me, "Yes, this IS for you, but not for you RIGHT NOW."

I need to listen to this so I don't feel that piping is a "must do" but a "want to do".  So at this time I think I need to step away and try it again once things settle down.  I have all the tools, I know all the amazing people, I have your support, but right now I can't handle it.  Pipers and friends of pipers, being a unique group of unbelievable people, I know that you understand.

I'll be back, I assure you.  I hope that you will accept me when I'm ready to return.

Railroad Piper: I'm listening, always have been.  You make me smile every time I hear you.  Thank you.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

And away we go!

Class tonight was good.  Very good. 

Honest truth?  Today at work was grueling and driving home I couldn't imagine getting through the class awake.  Now, here I sit an hour after being home and I don't know how I'm going to fall asleep.

Most of my time was spent with the head instructor who is part puppy dog and part drill sergeant.  He reminds me constantly that there is nothing to be nervous about with this sweet smile.  Then goes into, "look at your hands!  What do you think you are doing with your pinkie?" followed by, "Don't look at your hands!  You can't see them when you are on the bagpipe, don't get used to looking at your hands!" seamlessly flowing into, "Look at your fingers!  They are pointing down and that's why you are squawking.  Look at them!  They are fingers, not claws!"  At this point I wanted to bust out laughing but I can't because he's so serious. 

On to the next exercise and half way through I paused to heave out a huge amount of unspent air and gulp in fresh.  He looked at me with a smile and sweetly said, "Yes, breath, Cate.  Very important.  You can't practice the bag pipe if you are passed out on the floor with a concussion."

Like every other piper I have met in this cult, he is a remarkably kind man with a fantastic sense of humor and his heart on his shirtsleeves.

The configuration of the class is interesting - different people from the band come to help teach and they are paired up with different sets of students at different levels of skill.  At one point the head instructor had to move to another student so I was paired with another teacher, a sweet tiny woman who was a music teacher and we talked about some questions I have from my musical past that puzzled me about the pipes.  She cleared many of them up and then pointed out the obvious: women pipers have tiny fingers compared to the men, thus we have to be twice as accurate to cover the holes.  Huh, interesting.  I'd best order my copy of Rhythmic Fingerwork sooner than planned.

Tonight's emphasis was on grace note scales, triplets and the D throw. 

The best quote of the night?  From the head instructor: "Even with where you are right now, you are 99% better than the world population on playing the pipes.  Where you are right now, each of us have been so it only gets better."

Perspective.  There ya have it.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

What is your... quirk?

Tanya brought up a very good point.  As people who want to learn an instrument that can be heard for a 1/2 mile, we all likely have odd hobbies.

So what do you do when you are not piping, doing your job, searching the internet about information about piping, practicing your chanter at stop lights or trying to figure out which is the best reed for you?

To make us all feel normal, let's list off some of favorite past times. 

Mine: Quilting, reading, blogging, and working on my house.  Random dance moves in the living room when now one can hear the music.  Masters degree student.  Code writing in Visual Basic for kicks.  Gardener.  Cook for those who need a meal.  Workaholic.  Generally speaking, my hobbies are quiet, this seems to be my "HELLO WORLD, I'm here" hobby.  I'm going to do it loud and I'm going to do it proud.

What do you do when you aren't piping?

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Class Starts Thursday - I need to get on this....

So in every possible way, I've let life get between me and piping. 

Some of these things were unavoidable, some of these things were decisions I made to make my life easier down the line and I am glad I took that time.  But the fact of the matter is that my classes start this week and I need to be better about the slop than I am now.  There is no "make up" in learning an instrument.  You can't do a mad dash on Sunday to make up for the lack of practice you didn't do the last week.  You simply must...

Practice with purpose and move on from there. 

Okay.  Game on.  This is turning into a fantastic game of "forgive thyself."

Sunday, September 23, 2012

So I didn't practice today... or Friday.

I'm not afraid to admit that Saturday's practice wasn't all that and a bag of chips. Suffice to say it was a rough start to the weekend.

I have, however, gotten something done that has been hanging over my shoulder for a while now that I really, really didn't want to do but it simply wasn't going to do itself.  It's not done, but with a boat load of wine I have a final product that is passable if not the perfection I wish to attain.  A few more passes now that the band-aid has been ripped off and I'll get there.  But the hard part is done.  Win column. 

On the lighter side of things, I'm a piper-wanna-be, I'm a quilter and I strive to be that crazy cat lady.  One would think that those are all unilateral aspirations.  Having all three would be a rather odd brew - or so I thought until my boyfriend came to my door with the following present:

That's right.  A hand stitched pincushion he found on Etsy in the shape of a cat who is playing the Great Highland Bagpipe.  I imagine this woman sitting at her favorite sewing spot thinking, "someone is going to LOVE this.  I can't imagine WHO... but someone..."

Well, that someone would be me.

No matter how crazy I think I am, my boyfriend can make me feel completely normal.

Also understanding what I've been through the last number of days, my dear sweet Good Sir took me to the Renaissance Festival today to take me away from all my cares, my sorrows and walk down a joyful path of a great time in my life.  While there, we had the opportunity of seeing not once, but TWICE this fantastic flock of pant-free fellows:

Yep, my boys Tartanic.  Two Pipes, two drums and two lovely ladies.  Near front row seats both shows, both fantastic.  One might start to feel sorry for Good Sir, but he introduced me to the music of Tartanic and then took me to a festival where there were 150+ pipers ready and willing to teach me.  So this whole piping journey is really his fault.  These are things I probably wouldn't have experienced without him. 

Thus today I am just grateful. 

Sunday, September 16, 2012

We are not alone here

This morning as I waited for a reasonable hour to begin my practice, I curled up behind my trusty laptop to find some other really great blogs on learning the bagpipes:

This is the story of a piper who started his instruction in February and has come a very long way in such a short time.  I'm a little jealous of his progress!

This is the blog of another piper who has brilliantly recorded his early sessions to watch his progress over time.

It's good to know we're not alone in our quest to learn the pipes, and I found them to be motivational to help get me back on track after my Dental Drama.

So today I have done the very thing that Railroad Piper warned me about on day one: the more time you spend on the internet researching Piping is less time you spend practicing!  Thus I'm keeping this short to go curl up behind my practice chanter.