Advice to Pipe Majors (from Madonna)

September 2, 2014 on 5:27 pm by Michael Grey | In Pipe Bands, Tips | No Comments

It strikes me that when we look for fresh eyes on a problem and a new way of tackling a challenge, it’s not always such a bad thing to look for insight – if not answers – from places beyond the usual. For pipe bands this is New Years; the competitive season is over (for those of us in the Northern hemisphere) and so a new pipe band day dawns. And for Pipe Majors – the hardest working people in the pipe band world – it’s the time of year where reflection is deep and decision-making and planning can take a lot of energy.

So why not look to Madonna for answers? “Why not”, I say!
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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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A Spring Test for Summer Pipe Band Success

March 23, 2014 on 4:19 pm by Michael Grey | In Pipe Bands, Tips | Comments Off

From my experience there are three things that mark a band in the off-season; three things that are markers of excellence and predictors of a good season ahead. Three simple words usually tell the tale:
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Advice: Car Hire/Rental in Glasgow (GLA)

October 31, 2013 on 7:40 pm by Michael Grey | In Tips, Whinges | Comments Off

Many of you may hire/rent cars from Glasgow International Airport. Having recently been seriously ripped off by Budget/Avis I’m committed to letting you know that their business practices suck. Common to the car rental world? I don’t know. I hope not.
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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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The Medley: That’s Entertainment

July 15, 2013 on 7:10 pm by Michael Grey | In Pipe Bands, Tips, Whinges | 3 Comments

A funny thing happened at work the other day, among the real world of work-a-day people, I came across a true fan of the GHB – the Great Highland Bagpipe. Had my employer been a bagpipey teaching sort of place you wouldn’t be surprised – nor would I. But I work in a *gulp* bank; not the usual employer of bagpipe-loving types – or so has been my experience.
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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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Suck In and Buckle Up

February 23, 2013 on 6:48 pm by Michael Grey | In News, Pipe Bands, Tips, Whinges | Comments Off

I was talking to a friend the other day about flying. He’s one of those people who flies a lot. Not because he has scads of spare cash to holiday, rather, it’s all about visiting family – far flung family. Circumstances in his life sees most of his clan at the other side of the world. For him, like so many, flying isn’t a luxury, it’s a utility.
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5 Reasons the Other Band is Winning

November 4, 2012 on 7:03 pm by Michael Grey | In Pipe Bands, Tips | Comments Off

In pipe bands there’s winning prizes and then there’s just plain “winning”. In “plain winning” I mean, winning as in feeling really (really) good about the group where you’re a member, feeling an affinity with your team, your pals; win or lose, the band just feels right. In “plain winning” you almost always feel better after having attended a practice rather than not. Like the American basketball legend, Michael Jordan, said, “winning isn’t always about championships”.

Someone once passed along an interesting definition of what makes a good friend and that’s someone who makes you feel better after having had a chin-wag, a visit. That’s a “plain winning” band, you feel better after attending a practice.
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