------Est. 1980 Glasgow city centre's oldest bagpipe shop------
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Dear Piping Enthusiast,
The northern hemisphere piping season is not too far away, and as a result, this is one of the busiest times of the year for us as everyone aims to get their instruments into perfect condition. We are pleased to be supplying many local bands including Shotts, Scottish Power, Torphichen and Greater Glasgow Police alongside many of the tops bands around the globe.
We are always looking at new ideas for the newsletter to try and keep it fresh and interesting, and this month we start a new series entitled "Piping Adventures and Experiences". We all know about the hard work that goes into learning and playing the Great Highland Bagpipe and the amount of time we spend practicing, both individually and collectively. Our aim is to be as good as we can be on our instrument and that is the driving force, but apart from the pleasure this gives us, piping opens up so many doors to Adventures and Experiences we might never have otherwise come across. I will tell you a few of my tales over the coming months, but would be delighted to hear from you about yours - there must be some brilliant stories to tell!
We had June MacIntosh from Forres in at the shop recently to collect her Begg Bagpipes Merit Award 2014. She does a fantastic job with piping development in the North of Scotland and has gone back up north with a Begg sheepskin bag and a handsome Piobaireachd Society kilt pin.
We had a nice email from her when she got back home: "I just wanted to thank you for the new bag for my pipes. I've had a chance to play my pipes a few times now and what a difference. The bag feels much more firm under my arm and easier to play than the gortex one." Thanks June, and keep up the good work and hope to see you again soon.
We have 2 sets of classic bagpipes available this month. The first is a 1/2 ivory and German silver engraved set of MacRae bagpipes circa 1900 in excellent condition. The stocks have been replaced but the rest is in original condition. There is currently a general level of excitement about MacRae pipes which were actually made just along the road from my Bath Street shop in Glasgow's famous Argyle St. Reproductions of Macrae's are around but this is the real "MacCoy" including extended metal slides and a patent number. Priced at £2500
We also have a full ivory set of pipes, with the ivory in great condition. They are probably Lawrie - a good quality set in pristine condition. Priced at £2000
Piping Adventures and Experiences - Boxing and Piping
Eddie MacLellan was one of the greatest march players I've ever heard and I had the priviledge to be one of his students. In the 1970s, I remember him telling me that he taught at the Jewish Lads Brigade in Glasgow and one of the members there was a young boy called Victor Herman
. Vic had a tough but fascinating life having been brought up in a Jewish boys' home in the Gorbals but went onto great things - he became a piper, a bagpipe maker, a champion flyweight boxer, and ended up travelling around the world practicing his first love of painting. He married 3 times, lived in Laos, New York, Spain, California and London and led a rich and interesting life. Vic, the Jewish Bagpiping Flyweight, would pipe himself into the ring at the start of a boxing bout - what a way to start!
I was intrigued by this story and it brought back to mind the time I played at the St Andrews Sporting Club at the Normandy Hotel in Renfrew. Anyone flying into Glasgow passes over or close to the Normandy just before landing, and it is a well known landmark in these parts - in fact, my brother Bill spent the first night of his honeymoon there back in 1974 and he recently celebrated his 40th anniversary - some going these days. The event in question was a boxing match, with two famous Scottish boxers Jim Watt and Ken Buchanan in the audience, along with the legend Henry Cooper as the guest of honour. I still sometimes see Jim out doing his shopping in my home town of Kirkintilloch. All I was required to do was pipe the boxers in and out, so pretty much a straight forward gig. With tuxedos being the order of the day for the diners, they were all baying for blood from the boxers to add to the blood from their rare fillets of beef. It was all rather barbaric to be honest, and I was rather taken aback by a first round knock-out - I was in and out quicker than a fiddler's elbow, and the result was that there was more sweat coming off me than off the combatants - I felt as if I had gone 12 rounds and lost on points!
However, it was an interesting night none-the-less and one I'll never forget - I hope my playing added to the spectacle.
James C. Begg
p.s. lookout for my next encounter - with Stephen Hendry, champion snooker player
10% OFF ALL PRACTICE CHANTERS - Reed included with chanter, along with an extra reed with each chanter bought. Free post as well. Check out the website
- we have a wide range to suit any pocket - from junior to long chanters. Discount will be applied manually by Begg Bagpipes at point of purchase.
Field Report - Uist and Barra Solo Piping.
I was delighted to attend the Uist and Barra Annual piping competition held at the College of Piping in Glasgow's West End. The venue is compact and so provides a good atmosphere. However, the players are somewhat close to the audience which made it a bit tricky for them. The acoustics were ok but if the pipers did not stand in the middle of stage, then the curtains absorbed a lot of drone volume.
This event has to be amongst the friendliest competition in piping. From start to finish, it's a pleasure to meet not just all the Uist and Barra committee but also the local Glasgow pipers. The audience was respectable but I wonder why it was not larger? With such a fantastic set of competitors, where were the less able or younger players? They could have learned a lot and had a great outing. There were a few judges in the audience but again you may have anticipated more. Is it simply people are possibly busy or is it just "I wasn't asked so I'm not going"?
It's a great event and John Angus Smith is now at the helm in organising the event. Congratulations go to Jim Maclean for his previous years' work. There were a few new faces this time round as may be expected from a new broom. The playing standard in my opinion was mixed - there were some young new faces which was great but it took some a while to settle. It was left to a few of the more senior players to show experience and professionalism in this event. The timing of tunes in more than a few cases was quite poor. School boy errors were apparent and I also was surprised so many pipes were out of tune. The audience were keen on some slow airs prior to the tunes, but to be honest I didn't enjoy too many of them - maybe that's just me.
Overall, it was a most enjoyable event and I'll be back again in 2016.
James C. Begg
If you would like to report on any aspect of the Piping World from wherever you live, or if you would like to comment on any articles or issues, we'd be pleased to hear from you. Email to firstname.lastname@example.org