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 Post subject: Beginner Mistakes
PostPosted: Fri Jun 08, 2018 6:04 am 
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I’m on my first few weeks of playing a UP practice set, but I have not been able to identify a local instructor. I’m working slowly through H.J. Clark’s New Approach (After a few weeks, I’ve made it to lesson 4. I feel like the basics are getting learned well.)

However, I want feedback from you guys; what are beginner mistakes as it pertains to the UP?

I’ve played other instruments before (I currently play ITM on flute) so I am primarily just interested in UP specific mistakes.


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 Post subject: Re: Beginner Mistakes
PostPosted: Fri Jun 08, 2018 6:13 am 
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Where to start?


At this point probably the mechanics of it: your bag/bellows coordination, bag control and keeping a constant and reasonable pressure, would probably be the most likely things to look at.

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 Post subject: Re: Beginner Mistakes
PostPosted: Fri Jun 08, 2018 7:05 am 
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Getting-the-note-from-the-bellows is a somewhat instinctive habit...and the most difficult one to break once established. It's tough in that the bellows is a perfect analogue for our lungs; how we breath and how we produce sound.

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 Post subject: Re: Beginner Mistakes
PostPosted: Fri Jun 08, 2018 9:57 am 
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In addition to what has already been mentioned, applying too much pressure on the bag and holding the chanter too tightly in a "death-grip". I had both issues when I started, as in I often applied too much pressure, jumping octave or causing squawks when combined with finger leaks, and squeezing the chanter too tightly was painful and more leak-prone.

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 Post subject: Re: Beginner Mistakes
PostPosted: Fri Jun 08, 2018 10:15 am 
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dyersituations wrote:
... holding the chanter too tightly in a "death-grip".


Aye, the dreaded death grip! Took me a long time to overcome it.
Try to imagine the chanter floating in the air, and that you barely need to touch it. In fact, between the bag neck and the knee, the chanter is quite stable. I think the problem is trying too hard to get a good seal on the tone holes with the fingers. Learn and practice the piper’s grip, and make a conscious effort to relax the fingers, and shoulders.

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 Post subject: Re: Beginner Mistakes
PostPosted: Fri Jun 08, 2018 10:47 am 
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An Draighean wrote:
dyersituations wrote:
... holding the chanter too tightly in a "death-grip".


Aye, the dreaded death grip! Took me a long time to overcome it.
Try to imagine the chanter floating in the air, and that you barely need to touch it. In fact, between the bag neck and the knee, the chanter is quite stable. I think the problem is trying too hard to get a good seal on the tone holes with the fingers. Learn and practice the piper’s grip, and make a conscious effort to relax the fingers, and shoulders.


Yes, I've definitely noticed the death-grip. So thank you both for feedback in that regard. I have improved on it some already, but I am sure I could improve more.

Mr.Gumby wrote:
Where to start?
At this point probably the mechanics of it: your bag/bellows coordination, bag control and keeping a constant and reasonable pressure, would probably be the most likely things to look at.


That seems to be a good place to start. I think it is an area where I probably do need more instruction. (For reference: I'm right-handed.) I'm a little unsure regarding the constant pressure on the bag... I think when I've been playing UP in the last few days, I am relying too much on the bellows to provide air-pressure rather than the pressure of my arm against the bag... in which case, lifting the bellow is acting more like a breath. Does that description make sense? Am I correct that I should be relying more on my left arm's pressure to play notes than on pressure from the bellow?


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 Post subject: Re: Beginner Mistakes
PostPosted: Fri Jun 08, 2018 11:08 am 
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Quote:
Does that description make sense?


It does, it is probably the first and foremost mistake beginners make.

When I was teaching I had my students fill up the bag to nearly full and then play a whole part without refilling/using the bellows. Try that.

The trick is to not fill the bag completely and only top it up in one big stroke of the bellows when needed. Try not to use a lot of small strokes of the bellows to keep the bag full.

There is a lot to be said in favour of starting the drones early on, that will force you nicely to keep a steady pressure.

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 Post subject: Re: Beginner Mistakes
PostPosted: Fri Jun 08, 2018 11:27 am 
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Mr.Gumby wrote:
The trick is to not fill the bag completely and only top it up in one big stroke of the bellows when needed. Try not to use a lot of small strokes of the bellows to keep the bag full.

That's the advice I'd give as well. For a while I noticed that I timed the bellows a bit with the tune I was playing, and I knew that was a bad sign. So I would just sit and play for an hour thinking about relying on the bag instead. For example I found myself applying more pressure on the bellows before jumping to a high A or something. Around the same time I was also thinking about not squeezing the chanter too hard. Over time both aspects got better, and now I don't really have to think about it.

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 Post subject: Re: Beginner Mistakes
PostPosted: Fri Jun 08, 2018 10:07 pm 
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Beginners tend to lift the fingers far too high off the to be opened holes (and quite often keep that habit for the rest of the life). This will make a constant, rhythmical playing nearly impossible. One finger´s width is enough. Watch Tiarnán O´Duinnchuinn.


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