Back to school(s) for a lesson in medley construction

March 15, 2017 on 5:49 pm by Michael Grey | In Music, Pipe Bands | No Comments

One of the most important, if not inspiring, events on the global piping calendar these days, surely, has to be the annual Scottish Schools Pipe Band Championships. Yes, a Scottish-confined event – no Canadians need apply – but what a grand testament to the health of the bagpipe in the homeland of the instrument (and the pipe band, too, I don’t want to miss out drummers). For any hope of the bagpipe to thrive anywhere we need the instrument, and the pipe band, to flourish in Scotland. Of this I’m sure. And this event is both a barometer to the long-term vitality of the art and a hugely popular event if measured alone by sheer numbers of entrants and attendees.

All this is thanks to The Scottish Schools Pipes and Drums Trust. For anyone looking to get some ideas about how to replicate their good work locally, I encourage you to visit their website and learn more.
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Backstory and Reflections: Live in Ireland 87 Project

March 3, 2017 on 5:14 pm by Michael Grey | In News, Photographs, Pipe Bands, Stories | No Comments

Writing a blog has to be the ultimate in vanity exercises, or “vanity projects”, as is usually said when referring to almost anything a person undertakes that requires a healthy ego. We flatter ourselves imagining – or blindly assuming – that people are gagging to get a dose of our words and unsolicited opinion. I invite you (surely countless readers) to consider otherwise. But I do believe this to be true. A blogger rides the pud-puller that is the web log – the blog (come to think of it, Facebook musings are much the same).

It seems to me, too, that the blog can be that and something more. It can be this and that: in my words here, I try to also use this self-made forum as a record of stuff that happens to and around me. I guess you’d call that a diary. Yeah, that’s it; a diary. I’m not as a faithful a diarist as I’d like but when I look back on the last ten years of my dunaber blog I’m reminded of people, events and opinions changed and retained. So, in looking back, I’m happy I kept a little record of one part of my life.

With this in mind I want to provide a little context and reflect briefly on the “Live in Ireland 87” project, so in future years I’ll recollect and today you’ll know a little of the background of the thing.
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Humblebragging, narcissism, neediness and sanctimony

January 27, 2017 on 11:04 am by Michael Grey | In From Piping Today Mag | No Comments

ANYONE that uses Facebook will know that from time to time there are interesting bits of information that break through the often unfiltered cringe-making that is the backbone of social media. And so it was last week, smashing through a sea of humblebragging, narcissism, neediness and sanctimony (and pictures of food) – some likely of my own making – came Helen Keller. Her name is one from days gone by but like most great examples of humanity, Keller’s, I think, is one still generally known.
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From GS’s Scrapbook: Dundas, Canada

January 15, 2017 on 3:21 pm by Michael Grey | In Photographs, Stories | Comments Off on From GS’s Scrapbook: Dundas, Canada

Thanks to Hamish McLennan, grandson of George S McLennan, for this interesting old newspaper clipping; one gleaned from the late great man’s scrapbook.
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Happy New Year – oink!

January 1, 2017 on 6:46 pm by Michael Grey | In Humour, Photographs | Comments Off on Happy New Year – oink!

Posting a photo or graphics of any kind is almost always the easiest way to fire up a blog. So here are a few to help wish one and all a Happy New Year.
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The Best I Ever Played

November 15, 2016 on 7:43 am by Michael Grey | In From Piping Today Mag, Solo Piping, Tips | Comments Off on The Best I Ever Played

When I first starting competing in Scotland and going around the competitions, there was no shortage of fun to go along with the games. Like today, only it seems to me that then there were more eccentric, larger-than-life types around the whole of the scene. It may have been my youthful, wide-eyed interpretation of what I experienced that makes me think this. But then, on reflection, I don’t think so.
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Iain MacFarlane’s “Gallop to Callop”

October 18, 2016 on 6:18 pm by Michael Grey | In Music, Reviews | Comments Off on Iain MacFarlane’s “Gallop to Callop”

Earlier this year – like, say, late January – Duncan Nicholson gifted a copy of Iain McFarlane’s (still) new record, “Gallop to Callop”. I was especially happy to get it – an old school CD (talking medium not music) – as I knew Iain’s playing a little – and was looking forward to having a listen. Well, as it turned out, the CD got lost in one of the super-secret zipper pockets of my pipe case and it wasn’t until early summer I found it along with a past-it’s-best-before-date energy bar. The Greek yoghurt cinnamon seaweed bar went to compost and “Gallop to Callop” to the top of my favourites playlist. Since then Iain’s music has kept me company and my blood pressure to reasonable levels on countless commutes from Dundas to work in Toronto – and home again.
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A Jig is a Jig

September 9, 2016 on 6:01 pm by Michael Grey | In From Piping Today Mag, Music, Solo Piping, Stories, Tips | Comments Off on A Jig is a Jig

THERE was a time when I thought that one of the hardest things I’d ever done in my life was to play Peter MacLeod’s tune Donald MacLean, twice through in the jig final at the Northern Meeting.
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Isle of Gigha

August 31, 2016 on 6:54 pm by Michael Grey | In Photographs, Random Thoughts, Stories | Comments Off on Isle of Gigha

If you’re looking for a change of scenery and a fine place to recharge, look no farther than …
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Our Aunt Ethel

July 17, 2016 on 2:46 pm by Michael Grey | In From Piping Today Mag, Pipe Bands, Solo Piping, Stories | Comments Off on Our Aunt Ethel

IT’S estimated there are over seven billion people inhabiting our dear blue place — planet earth. That’s a seven and nine absolute zeros. To me, an unimaginable number of anything, let alone a measure of human souls. And yet, time and again, in the face of big numbers, we encounter a small world.

“It’s a small world — though I wouldn’t want to paint it,” said comedian Steven Wright. And there’s nothing like a looming, inestimable paint job to put something in perspective. Sure, we know the world is massive. I think it’s knowing this that has us easily imagining cosy comfort when some serendipitous happening meets our day. Like finding your neighbour is sister to your high school English teacher’s mum. “It’s surely a small world.” “Awww, we’re all connected,” you might groan. Or not.
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