Jenni (piperchicki) wrote in ladypipers,

Two Questions

Question 1:
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.

Question 2:
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?
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Also putting nonslip material on the side of your bag cover helps a lot in keeping the bag up and hence maintaining pressure.

Other tips for parade:
It should go without saying, but make sure your drones and chanter stalk are sufficiently hemped. I've had my pipes come apart during parade due to my own negligence in that area

sunscreen! I've ended many parades with half our musicians looking like lobsters.

And a personal thing for me: on one parade my kilt caught in the wind and a large crowd of festival goers saw my thong underwear. I find cotton boxer shorts under the kilt provide better confort because there is less wool itching, and also security in the fact that if I flash someone, it won't be that exciting.
I use little boys shirts, becuase I've never found a women's shirt that fits well/is appropriate. And I'm 5'3", so I'm not quite tall enough for men's sizes (suffice it to say the small hits my knees).

I agree wholeheartedly with lockedindream... sunscreen is absolutely essential for all outdoor activities.

Regarding question 1: I'd probably advise them to pay close attention to where their feet are when they're marching. Early on when I started doing parades and such, I found that it helped to keep me in step if I made sure that I paid attention to my feet (and the drummers) as a sort of living metronome. I might also tell them to practice their strike-ins and cut-offs very thoroughly at home so that they don't have to think about them quite so much when on parade.

Regarding question 2: Sorry to hear about the recent losses. I haven't really been acquainted with too many pipers or drummers over 60, so my observations about the apparent connection between piping/drumming and aging. However, I think I've noticed something like it in the past and even the younger folk in my band seem to look a bit younger than we actually are. Perhaps it's due to all the exercise we get while playing these rather demanding instruments?
GAH, just looked at this post to see if anyone else had said anything after this...I think that what I meant to say in regards to question 2 might have been something like "I haven't really been acquainted with too many pipers or drummers over 60, so my observations about the apparent connection between piping/drumming and aging might not be the most accurate."