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PostPosted: Wed Jan 24, 2018 6:38 am 
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I know more about Highland pipe pedagogy than I do about that of other instruments, and with Highland pipes there are many teachers who won't take on adult beginners... they want to focus on youngsters who have the potential to become prize-winning players.

In the years of being in the piping scene I've only known two people who took up the pipes as adults and rose to high levels on the competition circuit (Grade One, and Open).

They shared the following attributes:

1) prior musical experience
2) inherent ability
3) top-notch instruction
4) fanatical dedication
5) schedules which allowed vast amounts of practice time (two to six hours a day)

For every person like that there are hundreds of adults who dabble with the pipes and never get anywhere, and hundreds more who are dedicated to learning but due to starting later in life and/or lacking one or more of the attributes listed above only rise to the level of basic competence (which is no small thing).

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1978 Quinn uilleann pipes
1945 Starck Highland pipes
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 24, 2018 9:41 am 
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pancelticpiper wrote:
For every person like that there are hundreds of adults who dabble with the pipes and never get anywhere, and hundreds more who are dedicated to learning but due to starting later in life and/or lacking one or more of the attributes listed above only rise to the level of basic competence (which is no small thing).


I love that you put that last phrase in parenthesis there. Some of us find great joy in slowly becoming able to play modestly at home or with friends in a non-professional capacity. Speaking for myself, it adds much pleasure to my life to play simple tunes that I love... at home, with a friend or two or with my husband, and on several different instruments. I'll never be a competition level player of any instrument... but that's totally not why I play music. I play music because it bathes my soul in happiness when I string together some phrases and notes that sound lovely to me.

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 24, 2018 1:54 pm 
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Such an interesting off-topic discussion that I must participate:

I pretty much agree with Chifmunk. For some, I may not be "old" enough per se to express this convincingly, but I suppose in regard of instrument learning I am. I'm closer to 30 than 20 of age myself and I chose to take up the Uilleann pipes no earlier than a little less than a year ago (with a few years' history with whistles) even though I was very aware that it is a difficult instrument, especially when beginning with very little or with no face-to-face consultation of other pipers available, and with only a handful of other pipers in the whole country I live in for that matter. It was something I had wanted to do for a long time and I felt the need for it. I'm making progress slowly yet surely and I enjoy every minute of it. That being stated, I'm quite confident that I can eventually reach a skill level high enough to play in sessions and maybe small performances, while being absolutely content with the fact that I'll never be a competitor in the art of pipes, which never was an intention of mine, and so be it. I guess I mean to say that the fact that you'll never be as good as the best ones should, in my opinion, never be a reason not to do something that you really want to do in your life.

Yes, perhaps it's true that learning a new instrument is easier as a child, but as an adult you have other perks as a learner, like motivation, discipline, understanding etc. Maybe the reason why it's often said that it's best to start at a young age is that you have more time in your life overall to develop your skills to manage to a pro level (earlier) in your life. Be as it may, I for one (and many other who have taken up the instrument at a later age, I believe) would have missed something major, and most likely regretted it at even later an age, had I given up just because "I'm too old to do this".


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 24, 2018 3:09 pm 
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This is indeed an interesting off-topic discussion. Perhaps it can be made into its own topic elsewhere? But anyway, as regards those those two pipers who started as adults and became top-level, here is how I fit in:

    Prior musical experience: I don't think my two months or so of regular practice on the tin whistle counts, so I'm out on this one.
    Inherent ability: whether I have this is uncertain at best.
    Top-notch instruction: I definitely don't have access to any instructor at this time, let alone a top-notch one.
    Fanatical dedication: I would definitely be able to muster this up.
    A schedule which allows vast amounts of practice time (two to six hours a day): I have this luxury as of this post, but that's subject to change.

In summary, I can say with certainty that only one of the five qualities necessary for getting even decent on the pipes will be with me in the long term.

Learning the whistle, however, hasn't been terribly difficult for me. I have picked up tunes in as little as five minutes, but sometimes need a few days. Sometimes I'll botch a tune I've played scores of times. I'm confident that those little goofs will become less frequent, and eventually disappear altogether, with more practice.

Will I ever be a competition-level or professional whistler? Almost certainly not. For now, I can play about a dozen tunes fairly convincingly. If I can play along with other musicians in a more casual setting--when I get to a point that I'll consider myself a musician--I'll be pretty happy.

Edit: while eating dinner, it occurred to me that I should have said learning has, in retrospect, not been terribly difficult.

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 26, 2018 7:17 pm 
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I'm interested in the windway dimensions of the new Reyburn. It looks significantly higher and narrower than the others, so it's intriguing that "it has the same superb air-efficiency" as the Goldie which has a much lower and wider windway. A perhaps superficial logic would suggest that a higher windway might "waste" more air (i.e. less of the air is directly affecting the soundblade).

The curved windway makes a width comparison awkward without some maths, but would you be able to measure the height, or is the height measurement supplied by Reyburn?


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 27, 2018 9:34 am 
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I can't really get my calipers far enough inside the windway to get an accurate measurement of height, due to the windway flaring more open right at the mouth-end, but for what it's worth I get 1mm. If I could get the calipers further inside it might be less.

The width of the curved windway is around 13.5mm.

You should probably contact Ronaldo to find out the real measurements.

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1978 Quinn uilleann pipes
1945 Starck Highland pipes
Goldie Low D whistle


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 27, 2018 1:54 pm 
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Matt, Richard is correct that the airway is tapered vertically so measuring it at the front end is not going to give the exit measurement.
The width of the airway is 1/2" .
The exit vertical dimension of the windway is less than 1mm.

Of course there are other things going on in the fipple that don't show up from the outside.


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