With competitions andÂ general busyness most Saturdays I’ve come to be a chronic Sunday reader ofÂ Canada’s Saturday GlobeÂ & Mail – a favourite newspaper.Â Out on the back deck this afternoon,Â as theÂ setting sun of the last day of summerÂ sort of warmed Â (a 19 degree day today), I came across an article of interest: one that made me immediately think of a bagpiping parallelÂ (not an entirely uncommon thing to happen – I’m slightly embarrassed to admit).
So here’s the thing:Â Â the Globe commemorated the 20th anniversary of BenÂ Johnson’sÂ discounted Seoul 100 metres gold medal.Â Like most Canadians who were around at that time I remember precisely where I was when Ben did the business:Â I was in the Mess of my piping alma mater, the 48th Highlanders of Canada Pipe Band.Â Â
The 78th Fraser Highlanders Pipe Band ,Â the band I playedÂ with at the time, was being feted by the 48th.Â The 78th had played a concert at Toronto’s Massey Hall that night and the 48th, ever the classy group, had invited the band to a party in their Mess at Moss Park Armouries, a few blocks down the road from Massey Hall in Toronto.
As always, the 48th hosted a great party.Â The TV was on, too, and the men’s Olympic 100 metre was the object of everyone’s attention.Â As the raceÂ set-up the chatter in the bandroomÂ went silent (there’s was wayÂ over 100 people jammed in the room);Â Â I remember this clearly – all eyes on the TV.Â Â The race wasÂ off and Ben Johnson was to win inÂ magnifienct style, incredible form.
I know the 78th crew thought this an indescribabe topper to an already historic and unforgetable night – the whole of the room was in full-blown Canuck ecstacy.Â
Blah, blah, blah… my intention today, though, is to highlight a Ben Johnson training approach…
Ben’s training, like much of the training taken by the great Jamaican (orÂ Canadian-Jamaican) sprinters, happened on pretty basic tracks – grass tracks, in fact.
Said Ben Johnson’s coach at the time, “Up to a certain point, the softer the surface you train on, the more springy your tendons can become. Both times when there was no track, we found almost immediately you could move to faster times when you got back on a track…”
So here’s MY thing:Â I have always been a proponent ofÂ “small” practice chanters.Â Â I was brought up on the “small”Â practice chanter.Â I always knew the “small” practice chanter as a regular practrice chanter: the large, so-called full-sized chanters are a phenomenon of the 1990s onwards.Â Today, “full-sized” or large practice chanters are the norm, the way things are.
So here’sÂ my pitch: yourÂ efforts making technique on a traditional-sized practice chanter will set the stage for easy,Â articulate music on the large-sizedÂ pipe chanter.Â They’re the ‘grass tracks’ of bagpipers.
Pipers, build your technique, memorize your tunesÂ on the “regular” (non over-sized) chanter.Â It worked for the MacCrimmons, it worked for G S MacLennnan and Willie Ross – and it will work for you.
Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.