A Musician’s Struggle: Rehearsal Space

January 9, 2016 on 7:51 pm by Michael Grey | In Pipe Bands, Random Thoughts, Solo Piping, Whinges | No Comments

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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Clachantrushal [say that three times fast]

September 13, 2015 on 6:56 pm by Michael Grey | In News, Random Thoughts, Solo Piping, Whinges | Comments Off on Clachantrushal [say that three times fast]

There are a couple of instances where people might talk and, so, where I find myself more riled up than other times: those that get me going more than almost any other: the first, the georgebushian “nucular”, for nuclear (as in war and bombs) and the second related to the pipe tune, “Pipe Major Manson’s Farewell to Clachantrushal” for “Major David Manson AT Clachantrushal”, the later being the accurate and right name for this bagpipe 2/4-timed march – played always and often in bagpipe circles.
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Piping Today Mag – Grey’s Notes: “PC – Gone Mad!”

July 23, 2015 on 4:31 pm by Michael Grey | In From Piping Today Mag, Humour, Whinges | Comments Off on Piping Today Mag – Grey’s Notes: “PC – Gone Mad!”

A SHORT note to people who don’t have a lot of height: taller adults snag jobs of higher status and, on average, earn more than other people. Yes. It’s true. Are you offended — you with the 26 inch inside leg? Well, don’t be. This (not entirely helpful) fact comes to the world thanks to the Massachusetts-based National Bureau of Economic Research. If you’re not a horizontally elevated sort of person, em, meaning “tall”, then work a little harder to get in with the boss. Suck it up, shorty.
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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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What’s in a name?

March 9, 2014 on 6:08 pm by Michael Grey | In Humour, Random Thoughts, Stories, Whinges | 4 Comments

Me and my Grey kin – at least they with the gray Grey name – have spent our life times correcting people and playing the tut-tutting primary school teacher with government workers, call centre agents and any number of pizza and Chinese food delivery order-takers – and anyone else who tried to spell our name: “that’s Grey, with an ‘e’ we’d say: G-r-e-y”.
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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 on Advice: Car Hire/Rental in Glasgow (GLA)

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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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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Suck In and Buckle Up

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

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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Support the Music before it Fades Away

October 3, 2012 on 8:02 pm by Michael Grey | In News, Whinges | 4 Comments

Ten years ago Arthur Herman wrote an interesting book about how the Scots invented the modern world. Adam Smith, David Hume, James Watt, Alexander Graham Bell – the list of Scots firebrands and original thinkers is long and impressive.

In Canada we know that Scots had a big hand in inventing the country. Sir John A MacDonald, Canada’s first Prime Minister, was a Scot through and through. Same for his successor, Perthshire-born Alexander Mackenzie. Canada’s history is riddled with Scots. Canada’s pathfinders and trailblazers are disproportionately over-represented by Scots. Time’s are changing and, sadly, I say, that while a strong weave of Scottishness can still be felt in the backbone of Canadian society, the cultural imprint of Canada’s Scottish forebears fades.
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Gaelic College Fiddles with the Great Highland Bagpipe

December 14, 2011 on 12:50 pm by Michael Grey | In Music, News, Whinges | Comments Off on Gaelic College Fiddles with the Great Highland Bagpipe

Cape Breton is surely a beautiful part of the world – in the summer, anyway. I’ve spent a good few summer weeks in the past teaching at the Gaelic College of Celtic Arts and Crafts in St. Ann’s. Happy times, for sure, with a hundred kids or so running up and down the hills with their chanter and pipes and plans aplenty for pranking (mostly) suspecting teaching staff. Though “from away”, as they say in CB, my time at the GC gifted me some truly great memories, lifelong friends and some modest insight into how things “go” in that part of the world.
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