Tim Boucher

Questionable content, possibly linked

Tag: learning

Bagpipe Video: Beginner Left Hand / Right Hand Technique

This is, so far, one of the best first first bagpipe video lessons I’ve found for somebody starting out.

I’ve learned the scales from other videos, but this one has a critical step others are missing. To do your left hand only, fingers all on, fingers all off. And practice that. And then do left hand all on, right hand all on, right hand all off (keep left hand on). Repeat that.

Especially the right hand, on a ‘long’ practice chanter it can be hard to hit all those holes. And I don’t have small hands either. So this whole thing of cutting away from the scale and just focusing on closing all the holes accurately and consistently seems like a significant reference point towards developing coherence.

It seems more fundamental even than going note by note before you’ve had a chance to fully solve the problem of closing all the holes…

This video also uses bagpipe tabs which is really cool. Sadly, the website this video links out to in descriptions, tryscotland.com, fails to load. I was hoping for dozens more videos like these…

Don’t start with scales

So my Dunbar poly long practice chanter came in the mail on Monday, shortly after the Eclipse. They say the long is good because its the same length as the pipe chanter on the Great Highland Pipes. The right hand fingering feels pretty stretched for me as a newbie though, but I’m giving it a go regardless.

I have to admit that I forgot how frustrating learning a new instrument can be in the early stages especially.

I bought the first installment of the Bagpipe Solutions tutor book. It’s a PDF with embedded links to online sound files, and it seems fine. One thing I’ve discovered though, between that and my Youtube experiments is that learning the scale is NOT the first thing you should do.

Well, I mean it is, but not ‘as a scale’, but as individual notes. Trying to link them all together into a run is much too hard to get started. So instead, I’m focusing on just notes. Getting the low G to sound properly. Then going up through the next highest note, getting that to sound right, and so on. But for now, I’m only focusing on right-hand notes.

I don’t have a teacher, like they all say you should. But so far this is feeling better than the sad attempts I’ve been doing at getting through the scale all in one shot. Little by little. This isn’t going to happen overnight.

Bagpipe Solutions by John Cairns – Ebooks PDF

I was pleasantly surprised to find out that you can buy John Cairns’ renowned “Bagpipe Solutionspiping tutor books at a discounted price direct from the author in the form of ebooks.

Retail pipe seller sites like Dunbar in Canada charge $40 CAD for a hardcopy book and CD. There are seven volumes, so throw in shipping and that starts to add up. Cairns sells them for $25 CAD each instead. Since there is no shipping charge, that works out to a lot less.

I was a little confused by his site, so I confirmed with the author of the series that the ebooks are in PDF format and have maybe either audio embedded directly (? never seen that in a PDF) or else links to download the audio files for free, via his site. I’ll add more details once I buy them.

I first read about Cairns’ books from the excellent pipe supplier and information site, Hotpipes.com. They claim that for persons attempting to potentially learn the pipes without a teacher – such as myself – this series would lead you toward doing that. Though everyone seems to recommend having a teacher – but this may not always be possible, depending where you live. I’ve learned a lot of things through careful experimentation, study, and, frankly, Youtube — so why not this.

Excited to buy the first three volumes of Cairns’ books at a reduced price to find out. (I hear the first three books completely cover the practice chanter, which I’ll be receiving in the mail from Dunbar before week’s end – and in time for the Celtic Festival in town this weekend!)

Duolingo percent fluent score is way off

I’ve been using Duolingo for several weeks now to create a base floor of knowledge in German. I’ve decided their percent fluency score is pretty much random…

The length of time I’ve been 26% Fluent in German is ridiculous. Obviously, I understand this is a hard thing to measure, and that people need to incentivize their progress as they work through the steps towards a goal like this, but this is one element I really wish they would revisit.

I also don’t really care at all about their virtual reward currency, “lingots,” which allow me to “buy cool stuff at their virtual store.” It has almost no bearing on my usage of the application.

Lastly, don’t fool yourself into thinking that because you’re receiving good marks on a language via Duolingo that this will automatically translate into a “high score” when you go try to practice speaking that language in the actual country or community. It’s a fun app, and can be a good supplement to other learning, but I wouldn’t trust a 100% fluency score off Duolingo to equal real world fluence by a long shot…

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