Rare Photo and Video: G S McLennan

October 29, 2014 on 6:02 pm by Michael Grey | In Delightful Data of the Day, Music, News, Photographs, Solo Piping, Stories, Video | 1 Comment

Back in June I wrote a little about the recently posted Pathé film footage of the great Highland dancer, Mary Aitken. Among many other good things, she was the namesake for a fine bagpipe tune, the jig “Mary Aitken”.
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Piping Today Magazine – “Grey’s Notes”: Seven Deadly Sins

October 5, 2014 on 7:48 am by Michael Grey | In From Piping Today Mag, Solo Piping, Stories, Tips | No Comments

One of the people I teach, a young guy, about 17, is mad as hell about piping. He eats it up. Loves the tunes, loves to play. He’s crazy about piping — a lot like you maybe. I can tell you he’s definitely a lot like me. He’s the guy that rode around the town where we both live the other weekend in the back of a convertible, with the top down, while playing tunes on the pipes. Top down, breeze blowing, sun shining, chicks (apparently) loving it. This guy has it going on.
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Competitors: 5 Things a Solo Piping Judge Wants to Say to You

June 27, 2014 on 7:49 pm by Michael Grey | In Solo Piping, Tips | Comments Off

For those few in the world who trot their piping wares in earshot of a judge for prize-winning consideration, here are five (mostly) tongue-in-cheek things a solo piping judge is thinking as you come forward to play – and as you set off to perform (and remember – I’m broad-brushing to make points).
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Win a T-shirt [ooooooh]: Vintage Old School Pipe Band Photo

April 30, 2014 on 8:11 pm by Michael Grey | In Photographs, Pipe Bands, Random Thoughts, Solo Piping, Stories | 5 Comments

Here’s a photo I just stumbled on. This photo was taken in Glasgow – by me – in a flat that I can assure you faced the infamous Rottenrow. Lots of well-kent, yet mostly fresh, young faces.
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John Wilson (Edinburgh/Toronto)

November 6, 2013 on 9:45 pm by Michael Grey | In News, Photographs, Solo Piping, Stories | Comments Off

A glance at the “this day in history” section of pipes|drums just now reminded me that John Wilson (Edinburgh/Toronto) died on this day in 1979. He was a great hero of mine. Confident, bold, full of epic stories and opinionated in the extreme (oh, and a superb piper, even in the last years of his life). John Wilson both fascinated and intimidated me. Before I attended private lessons at his Willowdale (Toronto) home I’d be in his small classes at Moss Park Armouries (downtown Toronto), in the 48th Highlanders band room; we’d almost always travel home together riding street car and subway – John Wilson never owned a car. I loved his sureness. I loved his stories.
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Bagpipes in a Canoe: Aspiration Number 27 … Check

September 29, 2013 on 6:30 pm by Michael Grey | In News, Photographs, Pipe Bands, Solo Piping, Stories, Tips | 2 Comments

Back in January I wrote about Sir George Simpson, the Dingwall-born Governor of the Hudson’s Bay Company. As part of his 18th century trading adventures in the Canadian wilderness he’d travel with an entourage of honking big canoes and always – apparently – with a piper. Sir George’s piper always played in the big canoe – white water rapids notwithstanding - and for years, knowing this small fact, the piping-in-a-canoe thing has intrigued me.
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Overheard: Judges Losing Cred

June 20, 2013 on 6:45 pm by Michael Grey | In Overheard, Pipe Bands, Random Thoughts, Solo Piping, Tips | Comments Off

Here’s something: an abridged version of something I overheard in the Cobourg, Ontario games beer tent last weekend (just after Boghall & Bathgate had played their entertaining victory sets). I assume the man talking played in a competing band that day. My impression was he was more bundt than cake. He said:
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Tip #1: Be There

March 29, 2013 on 3:59 pm by Michael Grey | In Random Thoughts, Solo Piping, Stories, Tips | Comments Off

Not so long ago I was talking to Colin MacLellan. He was telling me (among other things) about one of his fairly recent bagpipe lesson experiences [sorry, CRM, hope this wasn’t secret]. Anyway, his story involved bagpipes, teacher, student and iPhone.
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A Canary in a Coal Mine

March 17, 2013 on 5:46 pm by Michael Grey | In Pipe Bands, Random Thoughts, Solo Piping, Stories | 2 Comments

Anyone who knows me knows my parents are real collectors, especially of interesting old things. My dad [“William Grey” the hornpipe] in particular has an eye that is drawn to the old and quirky – like so many of our best piping judges. And usually his “quirky” finds translate to rarities and bargains galore.
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A Tune in a Canoe

January 27, 2013 on 6:55 pm by Michael Grey | In News, Random Thoughts, Solo Piping, Stories | 5 Comments

I’ve been inspired, I’ve a new aspiration: to play bagpipes in a canoe. And the inspiration?
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