------Est. 1980 Glasgow city centre's oldest bagpipe shop------
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Dear Piping Enthusiast,
We have missed a couple of Newsletters since we have been working on launching our new website. If you haven't already taken a look, please do so and we would like to hear your comments including any suggestions you may have. We will be developing the site as we go along and so far, the new zoom feature on certain products is proving useful - if you hover your mouse over a product, you will get a zoom which enables you to study the product in more detail. On the product pages, there is also a facility to "Ask a Question" directly from the website, thereby providing a more convenient way of emailing us on any aspect of Piping. Following a number of requests, we also now take Paypal so that should help.
James C. Begg
It was a great result for us at the European Championships held recently at Forres, with the Field Marshall Montgomery and the amazing Inveraray and District taking first and second in Grade 1 respectively. Both bands were 100% on Begg bags so that was very pleasing. We also recently heard that Alisdair McLaren, who features in this month's Any Questions?, has framed our bag with which he won the FMM Grand Slam - see below. It also seems that Euan MacCrimmon has done the same thing with the bag with which he won the 2012 Northern Meeting Gold Medal at Inverness, playing Angus MacKay’s ‘Farewell to the Laird of Islay’. That's really good to lock in some of our piping heritage for future generations.
Where has the past year gone?? We are gearing up again for another Piping Live! and the event itself, now in its 10th year, goes from strength to strength. Many of you will be in Glasgow for the week 11th-18th August, which culminates in the new two day World Championships. Please do call into the shop and say hello, and we shall also be hosting an afternoon show at the Street Cafe outside the National Piping Centre. This year we have a better slot on the Friday August 16th, starting at noon. Our headline act is confirmed as the complete band from the Grade 1 Vale of Atholl under Pipe Major Adrian Cramb who will be live at 14.00 and all playing Begg bags. Again this year, we will have Edward Seaman with his folk-cum-piping band and we really appreciate his support over the years. I shall as usual be providing some witty banter(!) and am on hand for some piping chat and any piping advice required. Previous afternoon sessions have been great fun so I hope you can come along.
Any Questions? - for P/M Alisdair McLaren
Alisdair is from Perth, Western Australia. He began piping at Trinity College in Perth at the age of 13 and subsequently went on to notable successes with juvenile and senior bands in Australia. In 2005, whilst still living in Perth, Alisdair became the first fly-in guest player for the world renowned Strathclyde Police Pipe Band. In 2006, he was appointed to the position of Pipe Major of the Western Australia Police Pipe Band which he held for 12 months before relocating to Glasgow. Alisdair is also an accomplished solo piper having won many prizes throughout Australia and has recently started competing in Scotland. At the end of 2008, he joined the ranks of the Field Marshal Montgomery Pipe Band with whom he has won every Major title. In 2011, Alisdair was part of the band that completed the “Grand Slam”, winning all 5 major championships in one season (playing a Begg bag of course). He is also the Director of The National Youth Pipe Band of Scotland, based at the National Piping Centre.
Q. At what age did you start playing and who were/are your tutors?
A. I started learning the bagpipes at the age of 14 at my school, Trinity College in Perth, Western Australia. I received piping tuition at school from June Corcoran and externally from both John MacMurchie and Malcolm Brown.
Q. What is the best piping advice you’ve had and who gave it to you?
A. The best bit of piping advice that has been given to me is to never waste a practice session. My tutor Malcolm Brown used to say that you are better to practice efficiently for shorter periods by focusing on a particular tune, part or set rather than to just hash through your whole repertoire.
Q. What would you say has been your biggest piping difficulty?
A. I think my biggest piping difficultly would have to be trying to constantly push the boundaries of piping with the National Youth Pipe Band of Scotland. It can be challenging coming up with fresh musical and performance ideas, but hopefully people enjoy our concerts and the shows that we produce.
Q. Which is the best piping book?
A. My favourite piping book that I have always referred back to over the years is the Willie Ross collection. I’ve always found a great tune when needed. In terms of modern day composers, when I was growing up I used to love playing the tunes out of Mark Saul’s Antipodes Collections 1 and 2.
Q. Who is your favourite player and why - past or present?
A. My favourite player of the past would have to be John D Burgess. He was a favourite of my tutor Malcolm Brown and I remember him always putting on recordings for me to listen to when I used to go around to his house for lessons with my dad. In terms of today I’d have to say that my favourite piper is Roddy MacLeod. I see myself as a very lucky person to be able to hear him practice in his office with my work desk just outside. He always has such an amazing bagpipe.
Q. Is there something in piping you wish you could have done but haven’t as yet?
A. I don’t really have any regrets with the decisions I’ve made in my piping career to date but if there was anything that I wish I could have focused more on then that would be the solos. When I was a junior, competing in the solos played a big part in my development but as I got older the addiction of the pipe bands’ circuit definitely took over and for me to play at the highest level means total commitment. There’s hopefully still plenty of time left in my career yet so maybe in the future I’ll be able to focus on this more.
Q. What is your pet hate within piping?
A. My pet hate in piping personally would have to be… I can’t think of any!
Q. What has been your happiest piping moment?
A. My happiest piping moment to date would have to be winning the Grade 1 World Pipe Band Championships in 2011. This was my first ever Grade 1 title at the worlds which was a very special moment for me and an achievement that I’ve worked hard towards throughout my whole piping career. To finish the season winning the Grand Slam was also a dream come true.
Q. What is your most prized piping possession?
A. My most prized piping possession would have to be my set of 1904 Lawrie Bagpipes which I have had with me since I was 15. They have been with me since my first ever piping competition as a learner in Perth, Australia right through to winning the worlds with FMM.
Q. What do you do outwith piping that might surprise us?
A. Outside of piping I compete in Triathlons. I am a member of the Fusion Triathlon Club in Glasgow and have set myself the challenge of competing in my first Ironman in 2014.
Alisdair - thank you so much!
Special Offer - A Piping Taster
To encourage the development of piping, we thought it might be of interest to offer a "Taster", free of charge. This is aimed at anyone who is perhaps thinking about taking up Piping and would like to find out a bit more about it. On a one-to-one basis, James would allocate one hour of his time in his Bath Street shop to demonstrate and explain what Piping is all about. So if you are aware of anyone who you think might be interested, please ask him or her to email email@example.com and we can then arrange a date and time that is mutually convenient. This offer is open for the month of July and the Taster should take place during the period Sept-Dec 2013.
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. mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org