We have a few members that are joining us for the first time in parades, and I sent these words of wisdom to them. I thought I'd share them with ya'll, since there are a few beginners here. Any of you vetrans have something to add?
A few words to the wise:
1.) I think we're out of water carriers, so Ken might not have one for you. If someone else in the band offers you water during the parade, don't hesitate to take it. Steve once said you burn as much as 400 calories per hour during a parade... that's the same as most people burn when they go jogging. Keep hydrated.
2.) At your first few parades, don't worry if you have to drop out for a few tunes. We've all had to at some point. Just jump back in as soon as you have your wind back. No one will make fun of you, since we've all been there. (see calorie comment above.)
3.) Strike ins and cut offs are hard to do while marching, and we look good if they sound crisp. We generally go over marching basics at the first few practices at our summer rehearsals in the park. Be there.
4.) You need to find a white button down shirt that you can actually play in. This sounds really strange. Most women's shirts are made from really silky material. I spent two parades and a concert trying to figure out why I couldn't play, until someone pointed out that some shirts cause your bagpipes to slide down the side of your body. Kinda hard to keep pressure on the bag, when it's somewhere in the vicinity of your knees. (Okay, I'm exagerating.) Oxford cloth is the way to go, if you can find it.
We've had a sad time in Kalamazoo the last few weeks. Scott McClellan, an open grade piper who many of our pipers took lessons from, died of a heart attack just before memorial day. Max Knuth, one of our founding members who had played with us for over 30 years, passed away after a long illness a few days after Scott.
I was at Max's memorial, and there was a large gathering of family, but there were also a small contingent of pipers. I met the founder our band, Dr. John Beaton, and a few other former members and pipe majors. I found out recently that one of our more active members is well into his 70's. But if you compared these men to people the same age who were around them at the memorial, you would swear they were at a minimum 10 years younger. Have any of the rest of you noticed this effect amongst pipers? Does it extend to drummers?