Bagpipe FAQ : GHB :
What makes a good practice strategy?
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|I play the pipes an hour to an hour and a half almost every day - I never miss more than one day unless I'm travelling or ill. With the pipes, I can only manage one session, as it takes 15-20 minutes to get the reeds warmed up and stable.
The pc is more when and where I can - I try to put in an hour or so a day, but it's not always possible. Frequently I'll put in 4 or 5 20 minute sessions on the pc during the day. When I do play the pc, I try to identify problem areas in the tunes I'm playing, play the relevant exercises from Jim MacGillivray's "Rhythmic Fingerwork" book, then repeatedly play the problem passage in the context of the tune. I also "play" the steering wheel along with lesson tapes from my instructor when I'm driving (this has actually worked quite well for me with exercises, esp. the B taorluath and crunluath exercises).
I spent (literally) months where the lions share of my practice sessions were spent in tuning and footering with the pipes - that was intensely frustrating. The problem was an inappropriate bag/reed combination for my playing and environment. Since I solved the moisture problems (by going to a sheepskin bag, home made water trap, and Iain Macey cane drone reeds) I spend no more than a couple of minutes during each session on minor reed adjustments.
As far as the type of tunes, I spend most of my time on heavy, technically demanding tunes - but that's what I like to play. I spend maybe 1/3 of any given session on maintaining previously learned tunes, and 2/3 on new tunes. Of course there's a lot of variation - some days I play nothing but old favorites, some days just the new tunes.
I spend a fair amount of time reading and analyzing the piobaireachd tunes I'm playing - it's a nice way to end the day, listening to a CD or tape with the Kilberry Book and a glass of good Scotch. The light music I tend to make notes in the book, and review those when I practice the tune on the pc.
One interesting note - I normally practice the pipes indoors when the weather is inclement. The room I play in has a 20 ft. cathedral ceiling, and hardwood floors. I find it much easier to listen critically to my fingering if I move into a smaller room with lower ceilings. The overall sound is better in the larger room, but it's more difficult to hear the nuances, perhaps due to the echoes produced in the larger space. I'll move into the kitchen or study when practicing taorluath, crunluath, or crunluath a mach variations, so that I'm painfully aware of the mistakes.
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