Saturday, September 19, 2009

... The Bear Minimum

I have just come out of the Alaskan tundra from one of those life experiences ... a week in tents fly fishing for rainbow trout, coho salmon and dodging the Coastal Brown Bear (the Grizzly when found inland). It was a week of seclusion - no lights visible N-S-E-W in any direction and only my 4 partners to converse with. Needless to say, much was revealed through thought and imagery! But, like all temporary diversions, it is back to Reality 101 this week as I set up my lesson plans for the Fall piping students at the Corner. This year, I will insist that all students from beginner to competitive level, from enthusiast to contest driven, will have several learning tools in common. For sure, each will attempt to develop rhythmic technique through a series of hand crafted control drills and exercises found in my lessons of previous years. Without these dexterity skills, a piper cannot make the musical grade. Furthermore, all students will start their initial piobaireachd or continue their study, based on tunes chosen for strong melodic and structural content. The music of by-gone years is very much at the fore for the current piping student to appreciate that a composition has a floor plan and it is this layout that permits an ease of memorization. All in all, there are minimum skills that all students must bring to the table. With proper guidance, perspective pipers will develop technically with a musical appreciation and understanding of what lies in the written score. This, of course, is what all great musicians deliver to their audience... the bear essentials!