Saturday, February 2, 2008

The best part about this lesson was that it was NOT my last lesson!!! Yah!!

The lesson had started without Lee or Sande (Sande because she is still recovering from bronchitis) when in walked Lee. He looked around at us all, sitting there discussing pipe music theory or something (ha) and said, "Better late than never." I waited a pause as if considering those two options, then said, "Well, Lee, I don't know . . ." It got a laugh. He gave me a look and told me my shoes didn't match, so I guess we were even. (They DID match each other, just not what I was wearing. But how much do sneakers/les basquettes/trainers/tennis shoes match anything, ever??)

Other than that, we got lots of compliments on how well we acquited ourselves at Grade III band practice (except for the 6/8's, but that's another story.) We are now concentrating our efforts on All the Bluebonnets are Over the Border (otherwise known as Bluebonnets, a 6/8) We made Sean look good, and the lesson people made Jason look good. Yah! us!!! We also did well in the practice, except for Bluebonnets, parts III and IV. Work on that for next week, guys. Keep up the hard work you have been doing. And remember to have Parts III and IV of Brown Haired Maiden on pipes for next week Tuesday . . .

Sorry we can't go over it tonight because Jason doesn't even know it yet. Not even just have it memorized on PC; yes, have that, but also have it on pipes, which seems like it should just be one more step, but you have to take into account the blowing and the squeezing AND the memorizing, so it's more like 3 steps above just memorizing. That's without the strike-in and cut-off and remembering the sequence when starting a tune so that everybody strikes in together.

I think this is a military thing. To make sure everybody in both pipe and drum corps start the tune together, there's a sequence to a regular beat to start a tune. The Pipe Major calls out the tune or set of tunes and sings the first 2 bars in cantereachd (in case anybody forgot. Like me). He then calls, "Band! (rest) Rolls! (rest) One, two!" at the tempo he wants the tune to be played, with 'band' and 'rolls' and 'one' all as his LEFT foot is stepping down. The drum corps plays a 3-count roll, then waits a one-count rest (during which the pipe corps theoretically moves their right hand smartly to the bag preparatory to striking in), another 3-count roll , and on the rest, they strike the bags to force the air into all the drones simultaneously. This is called the strike-in. It looks good on paper, but it's tricky to actually do.

On the first beat of the next measure they all play an E on the chanter, then start into the tune on the appropriate beat of that measure. Sometimes the tune starts on beat 3 or 4, so you have to wait some extra beats. Sometimes there's a tune for which the Pipe Major doesn't want the E played at the start, you just jump into the first note of the tune and go. Knowing which is which takes practice, and remembering. And usually the Pipe Major telling everybody "No E!!!" in no uncertan terms. After which somebody usually forgets and plays an E anyway and gets chewed out (at practice) or gets The Look (in parades or concerts). If you strike in your drones and your chanter starts in, too, you also get The Look. You have to strike just hard enough to get the drones to all come in, but not too hard so that the chanter comes in. This also takes practice. At home, where nobody else can hear you. Hopefully.

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