newbies start here - New to the uilleann pipes?

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newbies start here - New to the uilleann pipes?

Post by the plod » Wed Apr 06, 2005 6:48 pm

Are you new to the pipes? Got questions that need answers? This is the thread for you. Post your question here, or better yet read through it first, chances are someone has already asked your question.

ok somebody start this thing off

Jeff
Last edited by the plod on Thu Jan 17, 2008 11:11 pm, edited 4 times in total.

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BigDog
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Post by BigDog » Thu Apr 07, 2005 9:00 am

Hi Folks,

Here are the top 10 things I want to know:

1) How long is it going to really take to learn this wild thing?

2) Where is the best place to find the fingerings for all the main notes and accidentals the chanter can play?

3) Should I start with Airs first or should I start learning all the ornamentation and fast fingering with jigs and reels?

4) How can I get faster at playing?

5) How do I know my rig is setup correctly?

6) How do I keep my rig airtight? What should I be looking for? How often should I be checking?

7) How do I tune my chanter quickly and effectively?

8) What is the best way to learn the pipes? I can read music and I have a good ear. I realize I have to put in the time to practice and live by the Law of the Harvest. I know it will take time. For the really experienced pipers: If you could go back and do it all over again, how would you go about learning the pipes with the knowledge and hindsight you have now?

9) The death grip sneaks up on me all the time. How do I stay relaxed in my wrists, hands, and fingers while I am working the bellows and bag?

10) What is the best way to relax after experiencing the deathgrip without putting the pipes down?

I realize there may be many answers to these and will differ as much as people are different. Thank you for sharing your experience and insights with me.


BD

crikey
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Post by crikey » Thu Apr 07, 2005 9:07 am

has anyone ever tried one of those mouthblown practice chanters? How about that Song of the Sea whistle chanter?

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Post by PJ » Thu Apr 07, 2005 9:21 am

Mouth-blown chanters - I don't know of anyone who admits having bought one. My own view is that controlling pressure on the bag is an important part of playing, which you can't learn on a mouth-blown chanter.

The best substitute for learning fingering is a tin whistle or low whistle, which has almost exactly the same fingering, and much of the same ornamentation.

I don't recall how much a mouth blown chanter costs (did someone say $50?) but it would probably be difficult to sell once you decide to get a real chanter. I keep taps on eBay and I've not yet seen a mouth-blown chanter being sold on eBay.

If money is a serious consideration, look at David Daye's penny chanter (I hear they're good) or Pat Sky's economy set. These sets are cheaper than sets made by other makers, but they have an established reputation and you should be able to sell them if you decide to move onto a half set (or if you decide to chuck the pipes altogether).

By the way, there's currently a David Daye practice set on eBay. Search under Uilleann and you'll find it.
PJ

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Post by lorenzo » Fri Apr 08, 2005 1:24 pm

Thanks for the info BigDog. Check your PM box.

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Ooh.. I do actually have a question... about non-deathgrip.

Post by Thistledowne » Sun Apr 10, 2005 2:36 am

I have a problem like death grip. It feels the same despite the fact that I'm not death gripping it. I have the same problem with boehm flutes, irish flute, etc... oh, and to a lesser extent on GHB chanter. It is helped much on my GHB practice chanter (first a mid-east [burn in hell] manufacturing chanter and then later on my Naill x-long polypenco w/countersinking) and my boehm flute to, respectively, elec-tape a piece of violin chin-rest closed cell foam, and to buy one of the clip on deals they make for boehm flute.

It's an ache that if I am remembering it correctly (I've not 'concentrated' on it's progression... I more concentrate on... OH GOSH THIS HURTS HOW CAN I DO THIS!!!) starts out dull and slight and quickly progresses to feeling aweful and fatigued and I stop being able to really keep using it... I don't recall if it claws up or not, but flexing and stretching makes the pain go away, but it comes right back if I start playing again.

This really is too bad, because after applying some reed suggestions from Kevin Popejoy, I'm finally making music and progress after 2 years. I'm enjoying myself despite the fact that I have to keep quitting before I'm ready.

By the way, I've seen a physical therapist for my hands (his specialty). He says there's no sign of artheritis and that my grip strength is phenominal (don't mess with me bub... I'll um... um... I'll shake your hand um really hard... or something). My left hand is no slouch, but nothing like my left. I have the problem there too, but not to the same degree.....

The worst is whenever I have to make that C shape with my right hand to play a flute or chanter. Whistle, clarinet, oboe, bassoon, sax, etc, no problem as I can change my thumb angle or a number of other things.

Man.. I really have messed up hands... I wish people would have beaten me when I was younger. I taught myself to be 'double-jointed' in all 8 fingers. No such thing, I know, but that's what we called it. Basically it means that you lock the middle knuckle of your finger straight, and then train the contractor muscles on the inside of your finger to pull the last joint down like it would be if you were naturally curving your fingers.

To do this of course, you are stretching and weaking the ligaments and other connective tissue across the back of that middle joint... and cutting your own throat. This has given me trouble with every instrument as well as banjo, mandolin and classical and steel string guitar. Due to not having that 'strength' normally inherent to the joint, my fingers will often 'pop' down and lock so that I cannot use them. I'll have to take my hand off the instrument and relax it and sometimes unlock the finger. Once it locks in a playing session it's even more likely to keep doing it until rested. The worst example of this is my right hand pinkie. On Flute, you have to reach far down to hit any of three or four keys (depending on your flute), and one of them is held down for nearly ever single note on the instrument. On chanter, I have to do birls with a little bit of preperation in an up then down sweep. Then next person who suggests I change the way I do birls I'm going to crack my chanter over... (It happens a lot.... I actually get a very good birl, but they think it looks so very odd, and "can't be right". It works for me and it's the ONLY thing that works for me... I've given a legitimately LONG wasted amount of time to each of the other techniques to get people off my back.).

Anyways.. that's my question. I'm not holding any of these instruments hard, I never have. I never have finger pad circles.

//Christian M. Cepel

Gosh, I wish phpBB2x would include a spellchecker.... but for gosh sakes one with a better lexicon than Thunderbird/Mozilla/Netscape.

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Post by dropkick » Mon Apr 11, 2005 7:11 am

crikey wrote:has anyone ever tried one of those mouthblown practice chanters? How about that Song of the Sea whistle chanter?
Please, do not purchase one of these things. They will in no way help you learn the UPs. Actually, buying a tin whistle will help you with fingering far better than the mouth blown chanter. I recommend getting a Bb whistle as they are very close to the size (see finger spacing here) of a concert pitched chanter.

As others have stated, learning the bellows in conjunction with the chanter is the best way to go... starting off with maintaining a steady A note while working the bellows... remembering to relax, forcing yourself to keep your hands from falling into the 'death grip'... and keeping yourself from flapping like a wounded bird.

Good luck to ya'. :D
There are two ends to every pudding... -Cptn. Jack Aubrey.

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Addendum

Post by Thistledowne » Mon Apr 11, 2005 7:49 am

I've a bit additional to add to my plea for help.

I was wrong... It happens in both hands, and only the bottom hand on the GHB practice chanter.

I only got about 3 tunes ran through before I had to put up my UPs today.

Later, practicing GHB tunes, I had a choice of either finding some way to pad the chanter (Like I had previously with the violin chinrest foam) and increase the distance between fingertips and thumb in the left hand C shape, or quitting practicing. At work, the only thing I had was the small paper binders and rubberbands. Taking the 'arms' off the binder clip. the concave back fit right onto the chanter. Taking a few rubber bands and looping them around the pipe with the ends caught in the throat of the clamp. The bands have enough friction so that the thing stays well in place. The jaws aren't super comfortable on the thumb, but it works fine. The only odd thing... 6-7 tunes later, the entire length of my thumb had gone numb.... dunno if I'm pinching a nerve somewhere or not.

Still would be very grateful for any advice with this problem.

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Post by dropkick » Mon Apr 11, 2005 8:00 am

For now, I would advise going at least a week and more without playing either UP or GHB. If you have a carpal injury you need to get it checked out by a physician ASAP.

If everything is OK, then prior to practicing, stretch your fingers well... by slowly stretching (spreading) your fingers/hands as wide as they will comfortably go, holding them at their limit for 30 seconds or so, then slowly relaxing them back to their normal position. Do this a few times.

Do it between tunes, and when you feel your hands tiring. But you must also remain very concious of your grip... it is so easy to slip into the death grip, that half of the time you are unaware that you have done so.

I hope all goes well for you should you see a doctor. For now, give your piping a break.


All the best!
There are two ends to every pudding... -Cptn. Jack Aubrey.

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Carpal Tunnel

Post by Thistledowne » Mon Apr 11, 2005 9:01 am

It all sounds like good advice. As of this time last year (with the same complaints), I was diagnosed as NOT having carpal tunnel *boggle* which is ironic because between musical instruments and keyboards, the only muscle in my body used more is either my Heart, or my eating muscles. *grin*

I know I'm pretty much out of luck with the pinky problem. I know I can strengthen the pinky and it helps.... I've had to do it for flute before juries. The way to do it with silver flute??? Reach out extra long and depress the pad and cup down against the hole with your pinky instead of using the nice closer keys. It was hell, but it really did help.

I can't quit piping *grin* I've got too many committments. There's a firefighter convention at Six Flags in Stlouis the last weekend this month.... Basically they've invited all the pipe bands they can find to parade through 6 flags, and we get to enjoy the park too.... Plus memorial day coming up and a school Internation Night that I'm pointman for. I've just barely gotten on the street... I have to get a bunch more music under my fingers to be able to play our basic rep.

Of course, if I don't take your advice, I may have the decision made for me.

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Re: Carpal Tunnel

Post by dropkick » Mon Apr 11, 2005 9:42 am

Thistledowne wrote:... Of course, if I don't take your advice, I may have the decision made for me.
That would be my big fear. I am of the opinion that sitting out for one event is far less injurious than not being able to pipe... forever.
There are two ends to every pudding... -Cptn. Jack Aubrey.

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Now I do believe

Post by Thistledowne » Mon Apr 11, 2005 9:54 am

Now I do believe that my audience would disagree with you most strenuously *grin*

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Re: Now I do believe

Post by dropkick » Mon Apr 11, 2005 2:51 pm

Thistledowne wrote:Now I do believe that my audience would disagree with you most strenuously *grin*
:lol: :lol: :lol:

Now, now... let's not be too hard on ourselves, lest ourselves become enraged and start flaming ourselves... which would put me in the uncomfortable position of having to edit or delete ourselves... ummmmmm.... somewhere, near the beginning of this response, I seem to have lost my grammar control. Anybody seen it? Help, anyone? :mrgreen:
There are two ends to every pudding... -Cptn. Jack Aubrey.

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Post by dropkick » Mon Apr 11, 2005 10:25 pm

BigDog wrote:Hi Folks,

Here are the top 10 things I want to know:


1) How long is it going to really take to learn this wild thing?

2) Where is the best place to find the fingerings for all the main notes and accidentals the chanter can play?

3) Should I start with Airs first or should I start learning all the ornamentation and fast fingering with jigs and reels?

4) How can I get faster at playing?

5) How do I know my rig is setup correctly?

6) How do I keep my rig airtight? What should I be looking for? How often should I be checking?

7) How do I tune my chanter quickly and effectively?

8) What is the best way to learn the pipes? I can read music and I have a good ear. I realize I have to put in the time to practice and live by the Law of the Harvest. I know it will take time. For the really experienced pipers: If you could go back and do it all over again, how would you go about learning the pipes with the knowledge and hindsight you have now?

9) The death grip sneaks up on me all the time. How do I stay relaxed in my wrists, hands, and fingers while I am working the bellows and bag?

10) What is the best way to relax after experiencing the deathgrip without putting the pipes down?

I realize there may be many answers to these and will differ as much as people are different. Thank you for sharing your experience and insights with me.

1. This depends on how much time you put into it, although I would caution one to begin slowly... get used to the bag and chanter.

2. A piping tutor is a good place, but Image... this should do the trick. Take note, fingerings do change from chanter to chanter... and C natural is usually the note that varies a bit... in my experience.

3. Airs are a good place to start. Do not worry yourself with embellishment just yet... again, get used to you bag and chanter.

4. Practice, practice, practice... but as you are just starting out, keep things slow and easy. Focus on good intonation and fingering.

5. If at all possible, get in touch or meet with an experienced piper and have them go over it with you in person.

6. By maintaining the wrapping on all tenons. The joint ought to be a little tight, but not too much so. Fill the bag with air, keeping the tone holes closed with your fingers and the bell firmly against your leg, and see how long it takes to deflate. It shouldn't deflate much if at all. If it does, you'll need to check your joints, or season the bag.

7. Everyone has a different way of doing this. I check to see if both Ds and both Es are in tune with each other. moving the reed in or out can change the pitch... as can moving the reed's bridle up or down... but try not to mess with the bridle too much.

8. The best way, period, to learn the pipes is from another piper with eons and eons of experience. Listening to what they play, how they play it, what tone or 'color' they utilize, embellishment, etc... etc. Failing that, a good tutor ought to get you started in the right direction. Heather Clarke's tutor is a good one.

9. Frequent breaks when practicing... do not over do it to begin with. Frequently stretching the hands by extending (spreading) the fingers. I wrote about it a few posts back. The death grip is a sneaky SOB, and occurs while you aren't conscious of it. The best way to defeat it, IMHO, is to BE conscious of your grip at all times. Make a concerted effort to focus on keeping your hands relaxed and light.

10. Stetching the fingers and hands as suggested above. Extend/spread the fingers slowly as far as they will go, hold them there for 30 seconds or so, then slowly relax the hands... repeat several times and add Jameson. :mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen:


Hope you find this helpful BD.
There are two ends to every pudding... -Cptn. Jack Aubrey.

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http://flojoereeds.com/

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Post by BigDog » Tue Apr 12, 2005 9:14 am

Dropkick (aka Darth)

Awesome. Great advice. Thank you for taking the time answering my top 10. I have the NPU videos and I get stuck on the triplet on Rambling Pitchfork.

HELP!! If I think about the deathgrip too much, I can't concentrate on where my fingers should go for the next note!!!

Thanks again!

BD

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