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Welcome to Begg Bagpipes
                           ------Est. 1980 Glasgow city centre's oldest bagpipe shop------
                                   click on the banner for our home page

                                                Newsletter - April 2012
Dear Piping Enthusiast,    
We thought "Spring had Sprung" in Glasgow when we had some rather pleasant weather but we were soon put in our place with a serious return to winter conditions - snow and gales from the direction of Norway. Other customers are more fortunate and we hear that pipers in Melbourne are having their hottest early April for 75 years - lovely! This month we welcome a contribution from Bob McMichael in Idaho, USA and in future editions, hope to have more articles from the global world of Piping.
Yours aye,
James C. Begg

The Inveraray & District Piping Association Junior Piping & Drumming Competition took place on the 7th April and Begg bagpipes were pleased to have supported such a good event. The winner of a Begg practice chanter will be a star of the future, as will many of the others who took part - IDPB and their support structure are doing a great job.
I had the honour of playing at the funeral of Mr. A Buchanan recently. Although not a player himself, Alex was a great enthusiast - he bought a copy of the Piping Times from me every month without fail for the last 30 years. He always said he wanted me to play his favourite tune for him when his time came - I duly obliged with Caber Feidh.

A-Z of Piping - a Personal View by James C. Begg
S is for Sheepskin bags
In the world of Begg Bagpipes, S can only stand for one thing Ė Sheepskin bags. Itís the mainstay of what we do and is a large topic to cover, but let me offer the following:
Stands the test of time                    
Superb Sound and tone from your pipe
Shapes to your body for honed, bespoke comfort
Spreads and dissipates moisture
Strength of material optimises air retention             
Selected as the bag of choice by champions
In Summary - Simply the Best

Name That Tune - the third and final part.

Please email your answer to Bill on bill@beggbagpipes.com and if you get all three correct, you may win a hand crafted Begg pipe or practice chanter.
You can still enter your answer to parts one and two if you didn't get round to it previously. Let us know if you want parts one and two sent out to you again in case they have been misplaced.  Entries close on April 30th - the answers and winner will be announced in the May Newsletter.                                                                                                                                                                                           

Special Offer
Make the most of this - 15% off one of our favourite items - Practice Pipes.
Now £90.97 plus vat if applicable.

We are delighted to welcome Bob McMichael as a contributor to our Newsletter. In addition to playing the pipes, Bob is an accomplished classical and jazz musician and runs his own successful marketing agency. Living in Idaho, United States he is able to give a perspective of what it is like to be a piper there.  The following article is his take on a potentially great complementary method of learning the pipes and of gaining access to top teachers when you are geographically remote.
Iíve been wondering if Patrick Og is rolling in his graveÖ
Living in a relative bagpiping wasteland, and not having access to decent in-person instruction, online lessons using Skype has allowed me to get first-class tuition with a top teacher and player (Bruce Gandy). Many of the more computer-literate teachers now offer lessons over the Web, and from where I sit here in Boise, Idaho, itís a great thing despite the wild departure from the MacCrimmon school of yore.
This virtual schooling has some obvious drawbacks, though: with student and instructor remote from one another, it is impossible to get tactile feedback on bagpipe setup. In my case, as a relatively new player, this is the biggest lack in the Skype format since Bruce canít test my setup himself and see if the struggles Iím having are purely my own or if my equipment could be optimized to make it more of a musical instrument and less of a grueling workout.  Bandwidth is another potential issue: Skype requires high-speed Internet to pass the sound and images cleanly between teacher and student. Add to this the cost of a decent external microphone (see below), and scheduling issues caused by radical time zone differences, and online lessons can be challenging.
But the rewards are clearly more than worth it, at least for this student. The New York Times recently did a story about online music lessons (in which they highlighted a doctor studying the GHB [http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/11/us/music-lessons-on-webcams-grow-in-popularity.html]), the gist of which was that it has led to a sort of renaissance in people learning to play instruments. For me, and others I know who use this method, the greatest benefit is having a highly skilled instructor listen carefully to our performances and offer detailed constructive criticism. The other very helpful element in this virtual tuition environment is file transfer: if Iím trying to learn a new piobaireachd, Bruce can send me, during our Skype lesson, a variety of recordings and settings of the piece so that I have a helpful reference to refer to between lessons. Similarly, I can email him a recording of my progress on the tune, which we can listen to during the lesson, with Bruce providing feedback throughout.
Iíve been a woodwind musician for over 40 years, with a fairly extensive classical and jazz education. Starting on the pipes about four years ago, my progress prior to Skypeing with Bruce Gandy had been sporadic and often frustrating. With my musical background I was able to advance quickly to a certain level, but the unique difficulties of GHB music Ė both ceol beag and ceol mor Ė pretty much stopped me in my tracks. I was treading water in a turbulent sea of taorluaths and regularly engaging in ritual sacrifices of unsuspecting Strathspeys. With Skype lessons, the waters have calmed a bit, and the wall preventing my progress has begun to crumble (although Bruce would be a better judge of this than I!). For those without access to in-person instruction Skype has been a godsend.
Technical recommendations:
  • High-speed Internet connection: I have used a 12Mbps DSL connection and a 50Mbps cable connection with excellent results.
  • Skype: there are other online video-conferencing applications (such as Facetime, which only works between Mac computers), but Skype is the clear leader and runs on both PCs and Macs. You can download it for free, and the connection is over the Internet so it is ďfreeĒ as well (of course you have to pay for your Internet service; mine runs about $50 US per month).
  • Webcam: you will need a computer with a good webcam. Many now have them built into the computer, but you can get a decent USB webcam for under $30 US and clip it right onto your monitor or laptop screen.
  • Microphone: although most computers have internal microphones, adjusting the sound levels for the bagpipe can be very challenging. The instructor will want the best signal possible, so an external USB microphone is almost required. A popular choice among Skypeing bagpipe tech geek students is the Blue Yeti, at about $100 US.
                                                   Bob McMichael
Thanks Bob, and hopefully we will be hearing more from you in future. Check out Bob's website
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:bill@beggbagpipes.com

A Passing Thought
Bill seems to think that the Beggs are related to Rabbie Burns, and he recalls this poem from the days he used to play fiddle with one of Scotland's top folk bands, The Tannahill Weavers. The Band used to use poems as part of the night's entertainment and to cover the breaks between songs/instrumentals. In the Glaswegian vernacular.......................
Spring is sprung, the crocus croaks
In ma tiny windae box,
The yellow daffi hings its heid,
It did indeed,
Why could it not its heiding hing,
And then it would have rhymed with Spring.

Begg Bagpipes
202B Bath Street
Glasgow, Strathclyde G2 4HF
United Kingdom
This email was sent to: wgbegg@hotmail.com
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