Back to school(s) for a lesson in medley construction

March 15, 2017 on 5:49 pm by Michael Grey | In Music, Pipe Bands | Comments Off on Back to school(s) for a lesson in medley construction

One of the most important, if not inspiring, events on the global piping calendar these days, surely, has to be the annual Scottish Schools Pipe Band Championships. Yes, a Scottish-confined event – no Canadians need apply – but what a grand testament to the health of the bagpipe in the homeland of the instrument (and the pipe band, too, I don’t want to miss out drummers). For any hope of the bagpipe to thrive anywhere we need the instrument, and the pipe band, to flourish in Scotland. Of this I’m sure. And this event is both a barometer to the long-term vitality of the art and a hugely popular event if measured alone by sheer numbers of entrants and attendees.

All this is thanks to The Scottish Schools Pipes and Drums Trust. For anyone looking to get some ideas about how to replicate their good work locally, I encourage you to visit their website and learn more.
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Humility and Grace

March 6, 2011 on 6:52 pm by Michael Grey | In Pipe Bands, Random Thoughts, Solo Piping | 2 Comments

It seems to me that one of the hardest lessons to learn in the competitive piping game – or life, for that matter – is around winning – and losing. “Win with humility and lose with grace”, goes the old saying. Like just about every other piece of well-kent advice of the proverbial sort, well, it’s all easier said than done. Think of the Golden Rule or “ethic of reciprocity”: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. If that simple tenet of human rights was easy-peasy to make happen we’d all be living in a Utopian Shangri-La.
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Japanese Cinema and Pipe Bands

February 17, 2011 on 6:46 pm by Michael Grey | In Humour, Music, Pipe Bands, Random Thoughts, Video | 3 Comments

Now there’s a subject line you probably never imagined.

I always thought those old cheesy Japanese movies from the 1950s might benefit from a little kick, a little something to give them a boost. I’m not talking Seven Samurai or Rashomon here, I’m talking about movies like those from the Godzillaand Mothra franchises (did they call ever call old movie serials “franchises”?).

Anyway, I thought how great it would be for one to snag a pipe band soundtrack, music to go along with the badly dubbed English.
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Happy New Year!

January 1, 2011 on 9:20 pm by Michael Grey | In Random Thoughts | Comments Off on Happy New Year!

All the best to you and yours for the best New Year ever!

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A Healthy Band: It’s About Feeling Good

December 16, 2010 on 7:41 pm by Michael Grey | In Music, Pipe Bands, Random Thoughts, Tips, Whinges | 6 Comments

We’re entering the time of year (in the northern hemisphere, at least) where pipe bands experience a drop in consistently good attendance. For as long as I have played in bands this has been a truth. From January through to March a good whack of the band, a sizable group of people (usually the same), fail to attend, or attend sporadically, due to “busy-ness” – or whatever. Excuses are legion and, to paraphrase Dorothy Parker [she of “I’d rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy”], they run the gamut from A to B. The reasons may be unique to those “busy” but to core membership – and every band has a hardcore group of members that keep the ship afloat – they bore.
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Bagpipes and Inuit Tradition

November 21, 2010 on 6:11 pm by Michael Grey | In Music, Random Thoughts | 4 Comments

People who love bagpipe music also love to deliberate what makes good bagpipe music. It happens in solo piping all the time (“Ooh, did you hear how s/he played the first variation of Mary MacLeod? Rubbish. Clipped to hell…”).

But, really, its when pipe band music is talked about that we most often hear the most intense debates. I guess its due, in part, because there’s more people involved. I think, though, its more the sports-like, hyper-competitive, team elements that characterize the pipe band movement that makes for the fertile ground of relentless pipe band music debate.
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Bagads: The Long and Short of It

February 15, 2010 on 8:17 pm by Michael Grey | In Music, News, Pipe Bands | 2 Comments

Yesterday morning I dragged my ass out of bed and caught most of the bagad performances from the season’s first bagad championship. The camera work wasn’t especially sophisticated but the sound seemed pretty good and I was really thankful that a TV network in France opted to stream the contest live. Very, er, tres cool.
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