Sunday, May 26, 2013

My First Post!
My name is Andy.  I like history, languages and music.  Especially Irish music.  I play the uilleann pipes, Irish flute, tin whistle, and bones.  I've dabbled in fiddle and guitar as well, but I only know a few tunes on the fiddle, and I haven't played guitar in so long I can barely count it.  I rarely ever play for an audience, and when I do it's normally a few family or friends.

With life as busy as it is, it's hard to practice.  Without practice, everybody knows, your skills will never improve, and may even deteriorate.  Add to that the fact that the uilleann pipes are my favorite instrument to play, and are also so finicky that from time to time I have to set them down just because I'm so angry at them not working that I have to calm down, and you have a perfect situation for lack of practice!

For instance, my dad passed away on Easter.  Two weeks later, we held a memorial service for him.  I wanted to play a hymn at his service on my half set of pipes (for those unfamiliar with uilleann pipes, this consists of a "chanter" for playing the melody, as well as three "drones" which provide a constant harmonic accompaniment).  I practiced the tune every day up until the day of his service.  I had the melody down, but I wanted more than just a melody.  I wanted my drones to accompany it.  But in the year and a half of owning this set I never had the drones working properly.

I worked so hard.  I finally got them working two days before the service.  The morning of the service, they gave me a little trouble, but were finally working!  A little while later, I got up in front of the gathering of well over 100 people, announced the tune I was about to play, strapped my pipes on, and switched on the valve that started the drones playing.  The two out of three that actually started playing were out of tune!  At that point I calmly apologized, told the people the pipes weren't cooperating, and had the organist play.  I unstrapped my pipes, angrily slammed them down, and later packed them away for over a month.  I was so upset that I had no desire to play them.

Well, I recently answered their call again, and have started reviewing some of my old tunes.  My fingers are a bit rusty, but with some practice I'll be back in shape soon.

I am by no means a great musician, but the goal of this blog is to motivate me to practice and improve, and to interact with other people that love to play.  I will be documenting my learning of my different instruments, and hopefully once in a while provide a chance for anybody who reads to share their versions of tunes with me.

Thanks for reading!

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