Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Holiday Season

Just a small note to wish everyone best wishes for a great Holiday season. I will be traveling up to Ontario with my family and we will celebrate the week with several visits to our friends homes and there will be lots of tunes along the way.

I often find it tough at this time of year to keep motivated but now that I have entered for Kansas City Winter Storm, it seems that a deadline is just the trick to do that. I still love to play anytime, but I find that while I am so busy teaching and working on music, if there is not a reason, like a house party or the like, I just won't put the effort in.

i would love to hear how you all keep motivated to play when you just feel like you are burning out a bit, or just plain too tired or busy. I know that once I get up and start playing, I'm loving it almost every time but that big ugly word, procrastination, often keeps me from moving forward as much as I can. For instance, I looked at my clock and I was going to get a good hour in just now but I procrastinated once again and now have to run to get in this half hour session. Oh well, the pipes will be going and perhaps I'll squeeze in another half hour this afternoon. See you in January


Friday, December 7, 2007

tough medicine-good people

Well, it's been awhile since I last posted a blog and a lot has happened since then. On October 27th I got news of a family emergency and needed t go home to Victoria. So, packed up everything into my computer bag and brought it home to get ready to go on the trip. Well, I left the bag in the cab, for only maybe 15 seconds but he was gone. I immediately called cab companies and then the police but after a few weeks, it was too late. Nothing has appeared since. It's just like Murphy's Law as I happened to have the backup hard drive with me as well, duh. So, that's what happened. The point, it's just a nice place to make a public thank you to all the great people in the piping world that jumped up and sent me all sorts of files and mp3's that they had received over the years from different lessons and workshops. Now I am on the rebuild and will hopefully have more news for you. sorry no pictures yet, have to get a new camera as well .

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Always be Prepared

Had an interesting experience last Sunday that I'd like to share. I had the pleasure of playing with Alex and drummer Matt Trecartin for a show aboard the Norweigian Dawn Cruise ship that was docked in Halifax for the day. It was a 45 minute show with the Amethyst Dancers of Nova Scotia where we had a couple of piping sets and several dances to play.

Alex and I practiced together for a few days to make sure we had our settings and tunes in line so as not to be an embarrasment to ourselves and we spent some time over the days before just setting up the pipes so they would sound good. Yes, it is an advantage to have your piping partner at home as you can get the pipes out when you want so that made the setup a bit easier. I have always been uneasy about playing anywhere as I was brought up to play like it was the gold medal no matter where you have your pipes out.

We were to arrive by 1:45, board the ship at 2pm and the show started at 2:30. With all the trouble nowadays with security, this took a lot longer than it should have and we got on board at approximately 2:20. I asked where was our room for tuning and they didn't know what I was talking about so I explained that this was written in the email and we needed a room and hopefully 10 minutes would be anough to set the pipes as we were not going to get to touch them up for the duration of the show. We finally got a room just a little ways away and then the technician said the show was starting in 4 minutes, which I proceeded to tell him "No it's not". When the boss came in I explained we needed a few minutes, not long and the dancers also had to get into their various costumes as well. He agreed and the show started just 10 minutes late, which was good, as a lot of the passengers had not yet arrived at their seats for the same security reasons.

The point of this whole story is this. We went out and played and I felt the pipes were very good and was quite happy at the end of the show. As waited at the gangway for all of the cast to arrive (there was also 14 dancers I believe and we had to get on and off the boat together) various people came up and gave thanks and thought the show was nice etc. However, one fellow began to talk to us in an obvious Glasgow accent. He was on vacation with his wife and only moments later did I learn that he was now retired but was a former piper in the First Grade Denny and Dunipace Pipe Band from Scotland. Here we were in the land of nowhere but out there in the crowd was a guy who would have known if we had just fired up the pipes and done a substandard Job. Sorry about the photo, the kind lady that was taking pictures just couldn't get close enough to get a better shot.

Walking off the ship, I said to Alex, "That is the 100% reason why I insist on getting a room to set the pipes to ensure that under the conditions I can do the best job possible, becuase YOU NEVER KNOW WHO"S WATCHING OR LISTENING" You don't win a prize for playing at a nice little piping gig but when you're in your kilt performing in public, your reputation is always on the line and you can lose it in a heartbeat. I'm glad that I was taught that important lesson as a young boy and that I didn't just take the gig for granted! Food for thought

Friday, August 31, 2007

A new Season

Well, it's been quite a while since I last posted and even being the procrastinator that I am (not by choice)I am now tired of looking at it myself.

It has been a long summer once again with a 3 week trip to Scotland covering most of August to play with the band at the World Championships and then several solo contests after that finishing up with the Cowal Gathering last weekend.

Now, it's back to work getting this season's teaching schedule in order, starting to work on the new set tunes for the major Piob contests next and working to expand my online teaching business. I see this as the way to the future and even the improvement I have seen over the past two years of teaching has been quite remarkable. Very soon we will be "live, real time" all over the world and for someone like me that could be labelled as a "techno peasant" (I borrowed that term from my friend Colin MacLellan, thanks) I find it all quite amazing. I will update you on this as the year goes on.

Lets just start with congratulations to Field Marshal Montgomery on a great win at the Worlds this year!! Why so great you ask? Well, that's easy. Last year my 18 year old son Alex, auditioned and learned a binder full of music to try to make the band and as you can see by the picture, he played this year with one of the best pipe bands and pipe corps I have ever witnessed. 20 years after I was fortunate enough to be part of the 78th Fraser Highlanders when they won, I got to put my hands on that trophy once again. Very cool and a warm reminder of that day which was also raining. Proud parents, you bet!!! Unfortunately for us though, I think this means we are going to have to go over to Scotland to see him in the summers for the next while because I think his plan is to hop on the first plane out after university to rejoin the band once again for 2008.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Citadel Mini Gathering Winners

Well, a good crowd of young players came out to the final round of this years mini gathering series here in Halifax. I was very fortunate to have secured some wonderful sponsorship from The National Piping Centre, McCallum Bagpipes, and Scott's Highland Services who all graciously donated wonderful over prizes for all the grades right from Chanter to Grade 1. This is the 4th year now that we have held these events in the winter and the quality of the competitor gets noticeably better each month. A big thanks goes out to our judge, Andy Rogers who also came in from Fredericton and donated his services for this event. These events have also shown that the players are now much better prepared for the summer events which brings up the quality of piping in the Atlantic region. They all play in rounds in Feb Mar and Apr and grade 4,3,2,1 play 2 events in one month so the aggregate is a total of the 4 events they played in. good luck to you all this season from here on in.
The overall winners were
Chanter Rory Flynn
Grade 5 Kayla Johnson
Grade 4 Trey Main
Grade 3 Cindy Gillis
Grade 2 Alex MacNaughton
Grade 1 Katie Buckland

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Citadel Mini Gatherings

Stay tuned for the winners, prizes and photo's of this years overall champions here in Halifax

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Launch of My New Blog!

Well, slowly, the web site jumps into the next thing, and I want to keep everyone up to date with projects and performances, so I'll be adding to this blog on a regular basis! Keep checking back, and I'll be posting from my travels!