LIVE Q&A: Getting Stronger, Picking Reeds, How to Practice -

LIVE Q&A: Getting Stronger, Picking Reeds, How to Practice

by Jori Chisholm, Founder of
Last Updated: May 16, 2024

In today’s live video, I’ll answer more of your questions about many important bagpipe topics.

I started 25 years ago with the simple goal to provide high-quality information and inspiration for anyone, anywhere in the world who has a dream to learn to play the bagpipes. Thanks to your support, my business has been able to grow and help thousands of pipers of all levels. Join me and help me determine the future direction for Thank you!

Watch the video and scroll down to read the full video script.

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Video Transcript:  Thanks for watching! Thank you. Hey everybody, we’re live. Cool. Thanks for joining. I want to say thanks to everybody who’s watching my videos on the YouTube channel. It’s been really cool to see more people watching the videos and commenting and subscribing to the channel. 

All that is very encouraging. I’m putting a lot more time and energy into these videos and it’s cool to, you know, get the great feedback. So thanks for that. I’m going to get to answering some of your questions here in a second. 

I just want to just mention a couple things. If you like these videos, make sure to subscribe and get notified when I post new stuff on here. That helps YouTube know that you like my videos and pushes them to other pipers on the platform. 

Also check out the Learn page on I’ve got links to all kinds of free stuff on there. Free downloadable guides, PDFs, videos, some recordings of some of my classes I’ve done, that sort of thing. 

Recently I launched a new online class called the Bagpipe Essentials Masterclass. It’s got high quality detailed videos on all the piping embellishments. So if you’re looking to brush up on your technique or maybe you’re just starting out, you want to get a solid foundation, check out my Bagpipe Essentials Masterclass. 

Links for everything I’ll put in the description below. There’s some links there now, but if you’re watching this on the replay, I’ll get all the links updated there. All the way from what to do when you first get your practice chanter through all the notes of the scale, the gracenotes, doublings, taorluath, D throws, grips, birls, all that stuff, so check out the Bagpipe Essentials Masterclass.

Also, if you’re looking for even more information to help you on your piping journey, check out my Inner Circle. This is my membership where I do weekly live classes on Zoom and there’s a lesson library with hundreds and hundreds of lessons on almost every piping topic. There’s videos and tunes and demonstrations and things on how to set up your pipes and tuning and music theory and everything. So check out Inner Circle membership, I’m getting new members every week and it’s really cool to see the membership growing. I started it way back in 2011 and it was just the lesson library and then in 2020, I added the live classes so that’s been really fun for me. People really like it so all the classes are also recorded and you can watch them on replay if you join live. 

Cool! So another thing to check out on the YouTube channel are these recent videos I’ve done with exercises. So I’ve been getting a lot of great feedback on those and I’m looking to do more of those and I want to hear from you if there is a specific thing that you’re working on with your technique that would be helpful to have an exercise. So the ones I’ve done recently are the Power GDEs, Power Strathspey Triplets, and then one of my favorites, and a really hard one that I came up with called the Power Dot Cut Fluidity Exercise. So check those out on the channel, there’s a PDF for each one of those that you can download.  I want to do more of these and I’d love to hear from you so put in the comments, there’s some exercise that you’re looking for mastering a certain part of your technique. The one I’m working on next is going to focus on the top hand and keeping the top hand relaxed.  

For most pipers, most people are right handed, so for most pipers the left hand ring finger is the least coordinated finger so that’s what we do, we play our E gracenote there. So I’ve got an exercise for helping with control and precision and consistency with that top hand, especially with that ring finger, to help you move it in a light quick clean way without getting bogged down. 

So that’s what I’m working on for the channel, I’ve got a new product I’m going to be announcing soon, it’s almost ready to be launched so stay tuned for that. Okay cool, so let’s take a look at some of your questions. 

So I get these questions emailed to me or people message me through the various social media platforms and just been going through some of these and they’ve been really cool. So I got a question emailed to me and the person says, “The single biggest challenge I have on my learning journey is losing my lip.” 

So I found many ways to practice other skills, but I have not yet found an easy to use anywhere exercise to practice lip resistance. Okay so this is a great question.  I often get asked this question which is, “Is there anything I can do to make it easier to play the pipes other than just playing the pipes?” And for years I would just say, “That’s it you just kind of have to play.” And it is true, the main thing that you’re going to need to do to build that strength and stamina and skill of blowing your pipes, is to play your pipes. 

But I would add another thing and that is general physical fitness. So if you are walking every day, if you’re getting in your cardio, and your weights and just your general physical activity and exercise, that is definitely going to help you with your piping. And I know that from my own experience, because over my piping career, I’ve gone through phases where I have been more physically active on the exercise front and less so. And it is without a doubt very clear to me that my piping is so much easier when I’m doing a lot of other movement. 

So doing weights and doing cardio, that sort of thing. If you’re interested in this, and you’re trying to look for a routine to get into, that’s going to help you with your physical fitness, I highly recommend a book called Body for Life by Bill Phillips.  And it’s an exercise book. Like the first section of the book is all about case studies of people who’ve used the book. I kind of skim through that section. There’s a whole section on exercise, which is the part that I still use. And then there’s a whole section on diet, which I kind of skimmed. But it’s a really, really great book for getting you into a routine of exercise because it just gives you a basic plan that you can customize, that works for you, and just stick with the plan. 

So three days of weights, three days of cardio, it’s short, it’s simple, it’s easy to follow. And if I could go back 30 years and talk to my younger self and give one piece of advice, I would say, “Find this book or something like it, and stick with it,” because my life is so much better now that I’m consistently on a plan. 

I don’t have to think about it. So really, really good. I first heard about this book from Jerry Seinfeld, the comedian on the Tim Ferriss Podcast, which is a really good interview that I recommended.  I’ll put that in the notes below. Of course, people know about Jerry from his comedy, but he’s very interesting in terms of how he manages his life to be productive and healthy, to maintain that high level of creative output. And one of his things is this exercise book. 

So I love it, I recommend it: Body for Life. So in addition to being physically fit, what can you do on the lips front? Well, I think you just do need to play your pipe. So if you have the Bagpipe Gauge, that’s going to help because you will be able to see what’s going on with your pipes in terms of the overall strength of the pipes. The thing that determines how hard your pipes are to blow more than any other part of the instrument, is the pipe chanter reed itself. So if you’re just starting out, you want your pipes to be easy, to be very easy. So I would definitely say less than 30 on the gauge. Probably if you’re just starting out probably 25, you know, this is getting into the what I call the very easy category. If your pipes are harder than that, you’re going to need to find a way to make them easier, either by getting an easier reed or by making that reed easier. 

I really like my Foundation reed, which I have for sale in my shop. And you can pick the strength that you want. And I do sell them in all strengths. I’d say most people buy the easy or easy plus, or the very easy is a great option for that. 

The other thing you need to do, is you need to think about starting out with something that you can manage, and building from there. So the thing with playing the pipes is that, there’s a lot going on skill-wise and also there’s a lot going on with the complexity of your instrument, all the different moving parts. You need to build up that physical stamina. So what you can think about is a ladder, and you want to climb up that ladder. And when you get to the top of the ladder, that’s where you want to get to. That’s you playing your pipes with all three drones and chanter at a reasonable, good strength. 

Well, we want to start right now at the ground level, and we want to climb up that ladder, but we need to add rungs to the ladder that are achievable. So what can we do to make it simpler? What can we do to get from where we are now to that ultimate goal? Well, one thing you can do is cork off all your drones and just blow the pipes with the pipe chanter. That’s how I originally learned with my teacher, Colin McKenzie, when I was a kid. This is back in the days of cane drone reeds and leather bags and all that other painful stuff and no Tone Protectors

And I remember even then it was hard. Another thing you can do, which I would recommend if you’re really struggling to get up on the pipes, cork the chanter, cork off two of the drones and start with one drone, one tenor drone, and just try to keep it going. 

So the way that the tenor drone works is that when you start to push air through the bag and into the drone, it will make one tone and then when you increase the pressure, it will kick into that second tone.  That’s where you want it to be. Every good drone and drone reed combination should have that first tone and then the second tone where it kicks in. So that’s where you start. The pressure blowing just the drone is going to be lower than if you’re blowing the pipe chanter. 

That’s okay. Really what we’re trying to do is we’re trying to find a level where you can have some success, and start to build some stamina over time. So the way we’re going to do this is we’re going to start with one drone and then once you get comfortable with that we’ll add a second drone and then we’ll add… 

So maybe we go to one tenor, and then two tenors, and then maybe we go one tenor and one bass, and then we go all three drones. So we’re going to be adding drones from one to three. The other thing we’re going to do, is we’re going to look at increasing your stamina in terms of time. 

So here’s what you can do, get your stopwatch or get your iPad or your phone that’s got a nice easy-to-use and easy-to-view stopwatch. This is what I have recommended for many students over the years which is get your stopwatch ready.  Whatever you’re blowing even if it’s one drone, hit start and just hold that drone, and see if you can get to one minute. I’ve worked with students who can’t even do one drone for one minute but that’s okay.  You stick with it and you just keep track of it, and you go, “Okay I got to 30 seconds before I got a double tone,” or “Before my lips run out,” and just write it down on a piece of paper: 30 seconds.  Now that becomes your new goal that you’re trying to beat.  See if you can get to 35, see if you can get to 40, see if you can get to a minute. If you can get to a minute, now you’re starting to get the hang of it. If you can get to five minutes, then I think you’ve really got it. 

If you can blow one drone for five minutes and the drone never flutters, it means that you’re keeping it at that proper pressure, that’s good. See if you can do five minutes, then go to your two tenor drones and see if you can do two tenor drones.  Again you might, because there’s more air going out, you might start at a shorter time frame. See if you can get to one minute, and then up to five minutes, then try one tenor and a bass, and so on and so on. 

So what you’re doing is you’re adding additional rungs onto that ladder so you don’t have to do so much of a leap.  You’re taking tiny steps.  So that’s what I’d recommend.  It may seem like, “Oh my gosh, I can only blow a tenor drone, and I can barely make it for 15 seconds.” How am I ever going to play this instrument? You can do it. I’ve gone through this process with many students over the years, and everybody’s different. We all bring a certain different combination of life experience and skills and talents and abilities to this point where we are now.  And you’re starting your bagpiping journey. Wherever you are, that’s where you begin. And you’ll get there. So great. 

I got a question from Alan McPhee in the comments today: “What drone reeds would you recommend for old drones?”

I tried balance tones, and no matter how much I tried adjusting them, they cut out. I’m an accomplished piper. That’s easy: Ezeedrone is the number one drone reed in the world in terms of popularity. 

And… Selbies and they’re used by pipers of all levels.  Ezeedrones will work great in your pipes with your old pipes. They were originally designed in Scotland for old pipes because at the time the Ezeedrone came out, most people were playing old pipes: Henderson’s, Lori’s, Robertson’s, and so on. They were creating those pipes, and they work great in new pipes as well. Ezeedrone comes in a bunch of different options: there’s the standard Ezeedrone with the standard style tongue. There is also the inverted tongue on the bass, where the tongue points backwards, also a great option for drones if you have a little bit of a finicky bass drone.  Some people like that inverted bass. It’s easier to start.  And then a few years ago Ezeedrone came out with a set of reeds that were made of a slightly different material that they call “Increased Absorption.” If you look at the increased absorption reed, and I’ll put the links to this in the description when I’m done talking here, the increased absorption material is a little bit lighter. 

So here’s the idea: if you’re playing your pipes, moisture will build up in the bag, and eventually will start to build up on the reeds, and inside the drones. So Ezeedrone came up with this innovation which is: so the moisture doesn’t build up on the reed and interfere with the tongue and make your pipes go out of tune, the moisture will get absorbed into the reed itself. Okay, so you can imagine, you know, water on a piece of glass.  It just sits there, or water on a piece of porous wood or paper, it gets absorbed into it. So that’s the idea: these increased absorption reeds would absorb the water so it would be less affected. Okay, nice idea. 

Well my drone reeds never get wet. So I use the Bannatyne Hybrid Bag, which I love. And I use the Dri-Flo Bannatyne Lightweight Bagpipe Moisture Control Canister Drying System, which is tubes that go inside the bag.  They’re lightweight, they’re very compact, they’re super effective, and they allow me to play for hours and hours and hours, and my drones and my drone reeds never get any moisture on them because the Dri-Flo filters out all that moisture. 

It’s wonderful. I blow all the hot, steamy air into the bag. It’s a big, hot, steamy, jungle, rainforest, tropical environment in there, which is great for my pipe chanter reed because my pipe chanter reed is cane and it loves that hot, steamy, moist environment.  Not soaking wet, but damp. And that’s also why I have the Tone Protector™: Digital Chanter Cap with Two-Way Humidity Control on my chanter when I’m not playing it so that it stays in a perfectly humidified environment and the reed doesn’t dry out. 

Okay, so I got this steamy hot jungle air in the bag, great for the pipe chanter reed, but my drones want to stay dry, so that’s why I use the Dri-Flo system. So why would I care about having a drone reed that has increased absorption if I’m using a dry flow system?  And the answer is, I don’t. So when I first heard about these increased absorption reeds, I was in Scotland and I was asking some top pipers over there what drone reeds do they play? And several of them told me that they were playing the same exact setup, which is the new Ezeedrone bass with increased absorption and the regular Ezeedrone tenors.  And then I followed up the question, which is, “well, if you play with a moisture control system, why do you need the increased absorption base?” And they all told me the exact same thing, which is, “Yes, I use the moisture control system, so I don’t really care about the increased absorption ability of this reed, but I love the reed.”

The reed is actually different and better than the classic Ezeedrone, that was their opinion. Heard this from multiple players. So I got home, ordered some Ezeedrone with the increased absorption, tried it out, tested different combinations, base and tenor combinations. 

And what I found out was I agreed 100% with what those pipers told me. The best combination was the increased absorption Ezeedrone bass and the regular classic style tenors. Amazing, the best setup I’ve ever played.  And I’ve played so many different sets of reeds. So I reached out to Ezeedrone, I said, “Would you make me a set that I can use and I can sell to my students and put on my website that has the new increased absorption bass in the classic tenors” And they said, “Yeah, we don’t really make that. You’re going to have to just buy sets and put them together.” I said, “Well, can you make me a custom set?” And they said, “Yeah, if you order like this many, you know, boxes of reeds, then we can do that for you.”  So that’s what I’ve done. And they’re the best selling set of reeds on my website. It’s a exclusive combo deal. You get the increased absorption bass in the classic tenors. So there you go. 

There are lots of drone reeds out there. And people have various opinions on them. I have tried just about every drone reed out there and ones that I can, every drone I can get my hands on. And this is by far my favorite set I’ve ever played in terms of steadiness.  It’s an amazing blend. Ezeedrone also has a harmonic that comes especially out of the tenors, it’s a high harmonic. I think it’s like an E note, but it really gives the Ezeedrone when they’re perfectly set up and in tune, a very bright, almost bell-like ringing quality, and I just love that about it. 

Before I switched to Ezeedrones, I’d played some different bass reeds that were a little bit rougher sounding, and I was afraid that this Ezeedrone would be too smooth and too mellow or quiet in the bass, not at all.  When I switched, I was competing and got fantastic comments from the judges about my drone sound, especially about the bass drone sound. That’s what I’d recommend, very efficient, very easy to set up, very stable, stays in tune, works with all sets of drones. 

I have yet to find a set of bagpipes where this Ezeedrone combo set isn’t just amazing. Check it out. I’ll put the link below. Got them on my website. You’re going to be happy. You will. That’s my recommendation. 

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Cool. Let’s look at some more questions. Thank you. “My biggest challenge is with finger speed and clarity, I’m a grade 3 soloist and winning occasionally. What is my challenge? Getting the short, getting the gracenotes and cut notes short, which are needed to allow proper holds for nice expression. I continue to work on very light fingers, and lots of metronome progression only seems to take it so far. That rapid snap and strength to execute embellishments and cut notes is just not improving. It is stalled and remains the biggest challenge.”

Okay, thank you for asking that question. There’s a lot in there and that is a very good question and I think that’s pretty universal actually which is, “How do I play fast? How do I play clean? How do I cut my short notes really short so that the expression comes out?”

So we have speed, clarity, cutting, gracenotes, cut notes, proper expression. That’s really, really good. I think that encapsulates a lot of the challenges that pipers have, right? And then also mentioned in the question there was, ‘been working on continued work on light fingers and lots of metronome progression only seems to take it so far.’

So absolutely, light fingers and then using the metronome. I’ve talked about this before, but if you want to talk about the absolute fundamental, most important first principles of good bagpipe form, what do you need to do, and not do, so that you can execute your finger movements properly, cleanly, with consistency, and play difficult tunes, and play them fast, and have things work well, and be easy to do the two most important things: to keep your hands light and to keep your fingers as close as you can to the chanter?

So really we’re talking about reducing excess finger heights: keeping your fingers in close and keeping your hands as light as possible. I remember being at the Coeur d’Alene Piping School in Idaho back when that was the great school that everybody wanted to go to in this area, and having a class with James W. Troy, Jamie Troy senior. He was talking about two things: having a nice relaxed curve in your fingers, and he was talking about keeping your fingers in nice and close. And I had seen so many pipers around that have you know, really straight fingers, and that’s what the old College of Piping Green Book shows: these really stiff fingers. Then you also saw pipers with lots of finger height. So when P/M Troy was talking about that, I was like, wow, that seems different than what I’m seeing around me. But he was absolutely right.  I still remember that demonstration that he made 25 years later 25, 35, holy cow. That was 1989. Yeah, 35, so a nice relaxed curve.  It’s very hard to keep your hands relaxed if you’re hyper extending your fingers. So nice relaxed curve with minimum necessary tension, right? So keep your hands soft, supple, not stiff, and then watch the finger height. 

So that’s absolutely the most important thing. And what I have discovered is that that is the limiting factor for most pipers in terms of their ability to execute their finger technique cleanly with speed, with consistency, with all those things I mentioned. 

Why is it that we can only get as good as we can?  We only get to a certain level, we sort of hit a ceiling and we can’t play cleaner and we can’t play faster. What is limiting our advancement and our progress?  And I think it’s those two things. I think it’s fingers are coming off the chanter too high, and you’re too tight. So keep working on it. Keep working on it. When you look at a great athlete or a great performer and you think, “Wow, they make it look so easy.”

Well, in a way, what they’re doing is very difficult, but they are doing it with a certain amount of ease and fluidity. So in a way it is easy for them.  They’ve taken something that is very difficult to do, and they’ve made it easy through practice, through attention, through time, through great instruction, through paying attention.  But the actual technique and the form is really, really important. So it’s not just, “I’m going to get these birls, and I’m going to do a million birls until they’re good.” Well, they’re not going to be good, you could do a billion. 

If you’re not practicing them in the right way, it’s not going to work. So at all times think about keeping your hands relaxed, keeping them in close to the chanter. That’s the most important thing. And you may say, “Well, I’m slowing down in the third part of my march.  I’m going to get my metronome out.” Well, the metronome will let you know that you’re slowing down, but how are you going to get to that point where you’re not getting bogged down? 

Or you might find that there’s a certain piece of technique that is just, “I just keep missing that thing, or I keep having a crossing noise, or I keep getting fumbled up there. Sometimes I get it and sometimes I don’t.”  You might think it’s that movement. Maybe I need to work on that E strike, or that D doubling, or that tachum, and maybe you do. But maybe the reason that the movement isn’t coming out as well as you want it to consistently is because your hands are too tight. 

So there’s all these different levels. And at the very bottom, the foundation of everything that you build your piping house on, is the two pillars of good form, which is keeping your hands relaxed, keeping them in close to the chanter. 

Okay, a couple more great questions coming in live here. “So my issue would be timing of gracenotes, doublings, and Dthrow, up to the beat, or on the beat, where does the beat hit?”

I’ll just give you a summary here. All of our piping embellishments, whether it’s a single gracenote, doubling, strikes, D throw, birl, everything, with a couple exceptions, starts on the beat. I’ll get to the exceptions in a second. So what that means, if you’re playing a G gracenote on your beat, and it’s on a beat note, bang. The gracenote comes right on the beat. If you’re doing a doubling, and your doubling’s on a beat note, the doubling goes right on the beat. The doubling starts on the beat. So that means, when the beat comes down, like when your foot hits the ground, or when your piper’s metronome makes the beep sound, that’s when you begin your gracenote.  That’s when you begin your doubling, that’s the first gracenote of the doubling.  You don’t finish your doubling on the beat you started on, the beat that goes for D throws, low G goes right on the beat.  Gracenotes, strikes, doublings, the only two exceptions to that are the grip and the taorluath.  So the the grip comes before the beat. So the grip the two low Gs of the grip come right before the beat, and the grip finishes on the beat. And then the same thing with the taorluath.  The taorluath is just a grip with an E gracenote. So in the taorluath, just like the grip, the grip portion comes before the beat, and then that E gracenote on whatever that note is after that taorluath that comes in on the beat.  

So if you know Scotland the Brave, and you know how it goes, and you know how it goes properly, then you already know this intuitively. So E gracenote right on the grip, right before the beat finishes. This is exactly the kind of stuff that I go over in my Bagpipe Essentials Masterclass, so check that out.  This is one of the coolest things I’ve done in my whole piping career was putting together this course.  There’s 31 videos, high quality detailed videos of me going over every single part of bagpipe execution.  So I will show you the taorluath, exactly what are the theme notes of the taorluath, what are the gracenotes of the taorluath, what are the different notes, context that we have the taorluath, where does the beat fall on the taorluath, how to practice it, the things to look out for, the things to listen for. 

So there’s 31 videos. So tachums, GDEs, birl’s, taorluath, D throws, grip, all of our nine doubling strikes, different doubling strikes, gracenote strikes. So check that out. It’s a really, really comprehensive course.  And well, it’s just me here with my chanter and the camera. So you get a really, really up close look at it, and you can watch that on your computer, on your mobile device, or whatever. So the idea was to have it be applicable for people that are starting out, but also people that have had some experience, but really want to get a deeper understanding and refinement in all of their technique. 

OK, another question, “What reed do you recommend in the Infinity chanter?”

Well, I’ve got a reed. I don’t make them, but I have a reed that’s an exclusive exclusive called the Foundation reed. So this is a partnership between me and one of the world’s top reed makers, Melvin Reed Makers. This reed is made exactly to my specifications in terms of strength, responsiveness, stability, so these reeds, they cost a little bit more than other reeds. But you will save money because you only buy the number of reeds that you need.  In the old days, it was a nightmare: if you wanted to get one good reed, you might have to buy a dozen or two dozen reeds.  I have spent thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars in my piping career to buy reeds that were garbage. I hate that, and that is just a terrible way to do business, and it’s a terrible way to treat your customers, and it’s just a big waste. 

We wouldn’t accept that in other areas of life. The deal that I’ve worked out with Melvin is that he makes reeds exactly how I want them. Every one of the reeds is good. Every one of these reeds is stored in a Tone Protector™ Reed Case: Digital Reed Storage with Two-Way Humidity Control from his shop to me. 

I send him empty Tone Protector™ Reed Cases, he fills them with reeds, mails them to me.  They acclimatize for a few more days once I receive them, and I test every reed for strength and send them out.  I personally handpick every single Foundation reed. You can get these in my shop. Pick the exact reed strength that you want and pick the number of reeds that you want. You do not need to buy six to get one good one. I recommend you get at least four because everybody should have reeds on hand. 

You have one in your chanter.  Maybe one in each chanter, with your Tone Protector™: Digital Chanter Cap on them and then you have your Tone Protector™ Reed Case with your couple spares in there. It’s one of the things I learned from the late great Alasdair Gillies, was having multiple chanters and multiple reeds.  You never want to be in a situation where you have one chanter with one reed. That’s  because no matter how good that reed is going, it will die eventually.  If it dies and you have nothing else, you’re in a problematic situation. 

I’ve got my rack of chanters back there, and I’ve got more in my pipe case.  But you want to have, I think, two chanters. I like to have two identical chanters with reeds with Tone Protector™ Chanter Caps on them. That way I can be playing both of them, and if one of them starts to go, I can get a replacement reed in there, but I still have my other tenor going. 

So check out the Foundation reed. You will be happy. I’m actually back-ordered right now. I’m expecting a shipment of reeds to come in any day. But since I started talking about these Foundation reeds, I can’t keep them in stock. 

So they’re handmade, they can’t just come out of a machine, they take a while. So if you think you might need a reed at any point in the next couple of months, I would get your order in now. Hopefully we’ll get it much much sooner than that. 

But yeah, it’s pretty crazy. People love these Foundation reeds and very clearly people are having success with them and feel it’s worth the money because I’m getting lots and lots of repeat customers now. 

So that’s the Foundation reed. Okay. We’ll do one more question here and then we’ll wrap it up for today. This has been great. Thank you. “Ta-da, ta-da, ta-da.”  “Someone says my taorluath and crunluath are too fast.  I would certainly like to know if I can get my fingers back to decent playing condition.”

Well of course you can. We talked about some of the important things: keeping your hands relaxed, keeping your fingers in close to the chanter.  I do have a video on the channel about the crunluath and the crunluath-a-mach. Check that out. There’s a crunluath exercise you can download. Even if you don’t play piobaireachd, which you should because it’s a wonderful, just amazing style of piping music.  But even if you don’t, the crunluath is a great exercise. It incorporates the taorluath, it incorporates the edre. To master the crunluath means you have mastered a big part of piping technique in terms of control, fluidity, and speed. 

So check out that crunluath movement and just take it day by day. So your goal is to focus on your job. And here we’re talking about, not your job that you do for work, but your job as a piper is to practice every day and pay attention to what you’re doing. Play with good form, take things step by step, and be patient with yourself.  These things take a while. It’s not like you do five minutes of GDEs and then they’re going to be solved. We’re not computers. You can’t just connect a couple of wires or debug a couple of lines of code and then it’s fixed for forever.  We’re humans and it takes a while to learn, especially when you’re doing things with your body. Right, so it needs to be embodied and you know, it’s a motor skill.   

Scientists can do brain scans and they can see how different areas of the brain light up as you learn.  When you’re first learning, you’re thinking about what you’re doing.  You’re thinking about which finger goes up and down, and in what order to play that embellishment, and then over time with repetition and paying attention, and being conscientious, and taking breaks, and coming back to it, it becomes more automatic, and it feels more natural, and we call that muscle memory.  Scientists can actually see that the activity has moved to a different part of your brain. 

So it goes from like that sort of cognitive stage where you’re thinking about it, to more autonomous, and it just takes time. So stick with it.  Pay attention, play every day and you’ll get there. 

So let’s see what else?  Yeah, so thanks if you’ve watched this far, thank you. Check out the other videos on the channel. Make sure to subscribe, hit the bell so that you know when we put more videos on the channel.  If you’re watching the replay, please put some comments into the comments section below if you’re looking for anything that I mentioned in the video.  I will put links in the description below if you can’t find the link, put it in the comments, or you can email me through my site at  Go to the learn page and check out my Inner Circle, and all of the other stuff. Links will be below the Infinity chanter Foundation reeds, the Ezeedrone Bagpipe Drone Reed Combo Reed Set, and all that so thanks again. 

It’s really cool. It’s fun to just be able to flip on the camera and with a cup of coffee and just talk bagpipes, so we’ll see you next time. Thanks a lot, and have a great week. Bye.

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These tips are based on my 30+ years of experience as a piper and teacher to pipers of all ages and ability levels from around the world.