Halfway through 2016 and Reflecting

June 16, 2016 on 4:29 pm by Michael Grey | In Humour, News, Photographs, Pipe Bands | No Comments

I think it’s the early sunrise and especially bright eye-squinting mornings, just a little south of the 49th parallel, that reminded me today that we’re almost at the halfway point of 2016. Whoosh! That’s how time goes – and that’s how time flies. And so, as not to forget, and maybe omit something from what will surely turn out to be a mighty and interesting late-December 2016 summary, I thought I’d jot down a few personal highlights of the year that’s been so far. Not for you, of course, but for me! Me. Me. Me.

When thinking, in processing thoughts, just what makes a person think – of anything? What ignites a thought? A chance meeting with a new acquaintance or old friend? An email, a text, a dog’s bark, the weather, an online video, the news – the cat licking it’s arse – what random action or environmental thing triggers (and apologies in advance for using that word) a thought or thinking? And, again, in this case, thinking as reflection.
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Piping Today: A magical winter week in Glasgow

February 24, 2016 on 5:03 pm by Michael Grey | In From Piping Today Mag, Pipe Bands, Tips | Comments Off on Piping Today: A magical winter week in Glasgow

I once read something somewhere about the spiritual power of making music in a group. The words I recall spoke to group music creation in a sacred sort of way. Making music with others joined energy and life forces and, well, made magic. Magic a word used here, I think, to describe the indescribable. And the indescribable, to me, usually stands as the best and worst things in life and, from time immemorial, inspirational fodder for the poet. Anyway, these hazy recollections stayed with me and it was only in the last week of January did they again burble up.
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A Musician’s Struggle: Rehearsal Space

January 9, 2016 on 7:51 pm by Michael Grey | In Pipe Bands, Random Thoughts, Solo Piping, Whinges | Comments Off on A Musician’s Struggle: Rehearsal Space

When you’re a musician it’s never easy finding practice or rehearsal space. In big cities especially, high density and thin walls make snagging the right reliable place tricky in the extreme. But when you’re a piper – or group, like a pipe band – the challenge is layered with bias, barriers and brutal complication. I’ve found myself “practicing” tunes in some seriously ropey places: the B3, or third sub-level, of an underground parking lot on Bay Street across from Toronto City Hall, pretty much every men’s WC of any indoor contest or event I have ever participated in and the reclined front passenger seat of a Renault 5 (in the pouring rain while parked on Dunollie Terrace, Oban).
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The Balmoralist (Life Imitates Art)

September 28, 2015 on 3:45 pm by Michael Grey | In Photographs, Pipe Bands, Random Thoughts, Solo Piping, Tips | Comments Off on The Balmoralist (Life Imitates Art)

A couple of years ago I asked John Slavin, MGD (Master Graphic Designer) if he would work up a logo for me, for Dunaber Music. And so, after a little quick consult, he did. What John came back with, with his first sketches, is what I use today. As I have said time and again (usually to an open-mouthed gathering of rolled eyes): you just can’t beat the impressive presence of a piper wearing a Balmoral bonnet.
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Jane Campbell: An Early Look at a Tune [Drum Score]

July 20, 2015 on 8:21 pm by Michael Grey | In Music, Photographs, Pipe Bands, Stories | Comments Off on Jane Campbell: An Early Look at a Tune [Drum Score]

You may know I’ve been working a little these days to help make the January 30, 2016, “Live in Ireland 87” concert happen. In doing that I’ve found myself going through my (many) boxes of scores, letters and other assorted ephemera. I can say with hand on heart that, over the years, I really have saved a lot of paper.
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Toothpaste and Judges

May 27, 2015 on 6:54 pm by Michael Grey | In Humour, Pipe Bands | Comments Off on Toothpaste and Judges

Judges working around the games might be compared, in a way, to a tube of toothpaste. Yep. You read that right.
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Piping Today Magazine – Grey’s Notes: “Piping: No Excuses”

March 17, 2015 on 3:36 pm by Michael Grey | In From Piping Today Mag, Pipe Bands, Solo Piping, Stories, Tips, Whinges | Comments Off on Piping Today Magazine – Grey’s Notes: “Piping: No Excuses”

My Dad always said that life moves forward at a pace in tandem with a person’s age. So when you’re 10, life seems to move along at a grindingly slow 10mph. At 10 a kid feels like it’ll take forever for summer holidays to come and even longer for the next happy birthday. By age 20, a healthy savings account is a nice idea for dull, boring people; but for most there’s nothing but countless, unplanned days of never-ending fun. Your forties come along and it’s all, whoa, something’s happening here: life is moving way past school zone speed. Bill made it to an Autobahn-friendly 86mph before he pulled over and stopped in the parking lot of the inevitable. And this is all to say, the obvious, you’ll know that’s my specialty; and that is, a person’s age goes a long way to inform how life is lived and, in turn, how life is understood.
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Cowal Games 1929

March 15, 2015 on 7:07 pm by Michael Grey | In Photographs, Pipe Bands, Solo Piping, Stories, Tips, Video | Comments Off on Cowal Games 1929

Say what you like, but I’ve always liked Cowal Games. Of those I recall, my memories are nothing but the happiest – or – at least – really good. OK. Not always, “really good”, but memorable. Yes. Memorable. Well, mostly memorable, but usually fun. Cowal, as much, if not more, than other contests, has given me some stuff to remember. I’ve socked it all away and stand today with a good few stories to regale the unsuspecting at the drop of a hat. Cowal Games: you rock.
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The Worlds: Fish Suppers all ‘Round!

March 8, 2015 on 6:20 pm by Michael Grey | In News, Pipe Bands, Stories | 2 Comments

Here’s a curiosity: a long-ago-redeemed copy of a cheque. Usually such a thing isn’t much interest except maybe for keen auditors (redundant, I know; of course, all auditors are keen), but this image is one for the few pipe band historians around: this is a copy of the cheque that paid out first prize to the 78th Fraser Highlanders at the World Pipe Band Championships in 1987.
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Piping Today Magazine – “Grey’s Notes”: A band, a team, is not a thing. It’s people.

October 26, 2014 on 2:05 pm by Michael Grey | In From Piping Today Mag, Pipe Bands, Tips | Comments Off on Piping Today Magazine – “Grey’s Notes”: A band, a team, is not a thing. It’s people.

If you want to make a fast million, forget trying to invent the perfect set of drones or never-fail chanter reed, like, say, a possible brand like the SkweelAway or, maybe, the NaySkirl2000. If you’re looking for fast coin to roll in hard and fast, figure out a way to build the perfect team — and sell it. The business world is reeking with countless people, companies and websites touting answers-for-a-fee to the forever-old question: how to create a great team. Now that’s where the money is.
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