An ardent epitaph

September 24, 2020 on 7:57 am by Michael Grey | In Photographs, Stories, Tips | Comments Off on An ardent epitaph

I was recently part of a very small group of people who were lucky to have a private expert tour of a few choice corners of Bruce County, Ontario. Bruce County is Ontario’s largest county and – as the name might suggest – magnetic for many of the settlers of The Clearances – and even later. With verdant, rich arable land (well, after newcomers found their way to fell the massive trees, haul the stumps and clear the stones) the county is full of echoes of Scots and Irish immigration. Continue reading An ardent epitaph…

The 2021 pipe band season: possible solutions

August 31, 2020 on 6:13 pm by Michael Grey | In News, Pipe Bands, Solo Piping, Tips | Comments Off on The 2021 pipe band season: possible solutions

Not too long ago Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer, Dr Teresa Tam offered up a sobering – if not depressing – update to Canadians:

“We’re planning, as a public health community, that we’re going to have to manage this pandemic certainly over the next year, but certainly it may be planning for the longer term on the next two to three years during which the vaccine may play a role. But we don’t know yet.”

It seems that – as much as we’d hope – there may not be a swift magic way out of the fog of our pandemic-lived lives.

I’ve been thinking for a while about competition possibilities for pipe bands (and soloists, too). Pre-recorded online activity is ok, maybe, for a brief locked-down moment in time but it does nothing to slake the thirst of the competition-loving piper and drummer. To create an event – a real event, a happening of importance and one where a paying audience is interested – any competitive online presentation must be live (or, at least, a recorded “one-off-only” performance; more on this later)
Continue reading The 2021 pipe band season: possible solutions…

Online Piping Competitions

June 10, 2020 on 7:01 pm by Michael Grey | In Pipe Bands, Random Thoughts, Solo Piping, Tips | Comments Off on Online Piping Competitions

Hats off to New Zealand. This past Monday (June 8) marked the first day since February that there’s been no active cases of Covid-19. Among many other pleasant pre-pandemic freedoms, the country can again hold public events without limitations on numbers. Thinking of piping and pipe band competitions the Royal New Zealand Pipe Bands’ Association enjoyed a pipe case full of good luck in the timing of their final contest of the year. Presented in the South Island city of Invercargill on the weekend of March 13, the organization’s national championship came in just under the quarantine wire. I thought at the time it would be the world’s final pipe band championship of 2020. And I may be right (sadly). Barring, of course, some kind of online “championship” – just the kind of post-apocalyptic thing New Zealand pipers and drummers can take off their to-do – or worry – list.
Continue reading Online Piping Competitions…

Book 7: Barry Ewen (a hornpipe)

October 23, 2018 on 4:23 pm by Michael Grey | In Pipe Tune Score, Solo Piping, Tips | Comments Off on Book 7: Barry Ewen (a hornpipe)

A long time ago I made a tune for my friend, Barry Ewen. It was first published in Neil Dickie’s “First Book”. Knowing that there has yet to be a music book published anywhere (to my knowledge) that has been without error or typo, it still bugged me that there was a typo in bar one of the tune I named for Barry.
Continue reading Book 7: Barry Ewen (a hornpipe)…

Recommendations for Solo Piping

January 6, 2018 on 4:53 pm by Michael Grey | In Solo Piping, Tips | Comments Off on Recommendations for Solo Piping

A little while ago I received a note from Jim McGillivray asking if I had a copy of the solo piping report we had (diligently) worked on together with Bob Worrall – over 20 years ago. “Word Processing” was still newish then and stuff was saved on 3.5 inch “floppy discs” and, well, no – the report was long lost, as far as I knew. Until last week. I found a paper copy while going through boxes of stuff – ephemera. Now there’s a great word.

So for all administrative wonks and lovers of arcane piping history, I pass it along here.
Continue reading Recommendations for Solo Piping…

The more you know the more you don’t know

October 19, 2017 on 4:43 pm by Michael Grey | In From Piping Today Mag, Stories, Tips | Comments Off on The more you know the more you don’t know

I’d like to think that I’ve lived long enough to have a pretty good idea of who I am. My collective experience, adventures and the winding road that has marked the path of my life have – so far – given me some understanding of the world around me. And, of course, while our paths may differ, as might our ages, I suggest you’re no different. It’s this sense of perspective, a way of seeing the world that is driven by how each of our lives are lived – and this all goes to help create a personal narrative – our “story”. How we see ourselves helps us interpret and make sense of stuff that happens to – and around us.
Continue reading The more you know the more you don’t know…

A stomach full of hyper-caffeinated butterflies

August 10, 2017 on 3:14 am by Michael Grey | In From Piping Today Mag, Stories, Tips | Comments Off on A stomach full of hyper-caffeinated butterflies

Every June in the town where I live there’s staged something called Buskerfest. It’s pretty much what you’d expect: a festival of street performers. The whole of the main drag in town is taken over by a good cross-section of the busking world – and, yes – it seems there is a “busking world”, with events like the one in my town happening all over the world almost every day. The hardcore of the talent seemingly travel the world’s circuit of busker gatherings (sound familiar?) swallowing their knives and blowing fire out their bahookies at the drop of a hat. Almost literally.
Continue reading A stomach full of hyper-caffeinated butterflies…

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.
Continue reading The Best I Ever Played…

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.
Continue reading A Jig is a Jig…

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.
Continue reading Piping Today: A magical winter week in Glasgow…

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