After a long time playing mostly Scottish folk music I am forcing myself to do 2 things I’ve always avoided. Play the ruddy whistle and learn some of those ever so commonly massacred, beginners tunes that were always beyond the reach of my pipe scale. Mostly it’s fine, I’ve heard the tunes so many times anyway that they are already in the wet RAM and I just check a couple of phrases or bars out and I’m away. Sadly it’s mostly these "bedrock" tunes that are played in these parts anyway, sessions are presently thin on the ground and the more accomplished players it seems don’t venture out much anymore. Where ever you go these parts though these ruddy polkas will surface, you know the ones, everyone knows the ones…everyone except me who has never learnt the ruddy things and is trying to now. I’ve a big problem though, I absolutely detest them, no matter what I do I can’t get them to stick and I can’t begin to start, hearing myself doing it is like listening to finger nails on a blackboard or biting tinfoil with a filled tooth.
I wouldn’t dream of ever playing Scotland the Brave, Bluebells or any number of Scottish beginners tunes, anywhere ever, let alone a session. The only place for them really IMO is in lessons. Can’t we just quietly drop the darn things? Leave them in the early lesson draw and never take them beyond, please can we get a little more aspirational in our music? After all’s said and done when was the last time anyone even danced a flipping polka?!