Self Teaching Uilleann Pipes, Any Tips?

Self Teaching Uilleann Pipes, Any Tips?

Hey Everybody,

For the past 2 years i am trying to learn the Uilleann Pipes, with small succes. Unfortunately there are no Uilleann Pipe teachers in my vincinity (Katwijk, Netherlands). I can play some tunes and i can even hold pressure and keep it in tune.. I have used "Heather Clarke", but it brought me personaly not so far…

I noticed that my motivation is beginning to fade since end last year. I practice less, sometimes not even for weeks. Since this year i have gotten a once in a lifetime deal on a beautiful Full-Set of pipemaker Marc van Daal.

To counter my fading motivation i have gotten "The Art of Uilleann Piping" from NPU. Its great, and i learn many new things.

I am wondering if any of you are also "Self Taught", because i am looking for tips and tricks on improving my motivation to keep learning

Greets

Re: Self Teaching Uilleann Pipes, Any Tips?

I am completely self thaught. I have been at it almost 4 years and now finally I am improving rapidly each time I pick it up. What kind of set are you playing? It is crucial you have a easy, airtight well made set. And you have to play as often as you can. There is no shortcuts. So if it goes weeks between practise this will slow you down. Savour the moments you get those nice sounds. They will come more and more often as you go along. Try Skype lessons with Simon Pfisterer (look him up on facebook) or sign up for the new patreon page by John Mcsherry. Keep the fire and you’ll get there!

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Re: Self Teaching Uilleann Pipes, Any Tips?

Do you still love the sound of the pipes? That should keep you motivated! I love every second of practise as it slowly, very slowly sounds cleaner, more in tune and less squeaks. I try to play at least 3-4 times a week. More if I can.

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Re: Self Teaching Uilleann Pipes, Any Tips?

If you can get lessons, online or otherwise, it’s a great way of keeping you going from one day and week to the next.

Beyond that, try to get involved with the community - tricky at the moment with the virus and all but a weekend tional, regular session, whatever, where you can be reassured you’re not the only person on the planet pursuing this lonely road. It makes more of a difference than you think.

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Re: Self Teaching Uilleann Pipes, Any Tips?

Keep an eye out for online uilleann pipe workshops. There’s one coming up next weekend:
https://www.pipersgathering.org/the-e-gathering/

I tried a Zoom workshop recently and really enjoyed it. I felt engaged and inspired, and there was no pressure since we just played along with the instructor with our mutes on.

But I agree with Calum, one-on-one lessons are a great motivation (plus they help support musicians who have lost gig income).

Re: Self Teaching Uilleann Pipes, Any Tips?

I agree with the above - I got nowhere until some lessons and a weekend workshop or two helped me fix some basic mistakes and bad habits. Online lessons - be sure the teacher is willing to help you troubleshoot your equipment (some are not) - could make a big difference. The uilliann pipes forum at forums.chiffandfipple.com is also helpful. Good luck, welcome to the madness.

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Re: Self Teaching Uilleann Pipes, Any Tips?

Hi
whats abouts the
https://www.nvup.nl/
or are they in a lockdown?
cheers Kuddel

Re: Self Teaching Uilleann Pipes, Any Tips?

Hi all,

Thanks for the reply’s. Even that gives more motivation! I will look into the given advices, they look very nice to do.

In have gotten some recomandation via a few Facebook pages aswell.

Re: Self Teaching Uilleann Pipes, Any Tips?

The first tune you learnt, what does it sound like now. The last tune you tried what will it sound like in 6months?
I am learning Coolys reel its a mess but it is becoming less so. I recorded myself, RESULT I was becoming lazy
not giving notes there audible value and running notes into one another SO for me its get that staccato going GET the fingers to liven up LUV this machine. Learn to make your own reeds

Re: Self Teaching Uilleann Pipes, Any Tips?

Reedmaking is only useful if you are capable enough as a player to judge your own work as suitable.

I would urge newbies to spend their time practicing and leave the reedmaking alone for a few years.

The OP should seek online instruction if a local tutor is unavailable. It’s very difficult to make much progress in complete isolation.

Re: Self Teaching Uilleann Pipes, Any Tips?

@MP1996, thanks for the tip! I’ll try that in a couple of years ๐Ÿ˜‰

Re: Self Teaching Uilleann Pipes, Any Tips?

What about your set? Is it comfortable to play, well tuned? This has been very important to me, being completely self taught. I had the best of luck having a decent set which allowed me to focus on playing rather than repairing or such.
If so, keep going. It’s just a matter of time

Re: Self Teaching Uilleann Pipes, Any Tips?

Wow MP 1966 must be something wrong with me it took 6 months to gather all the necessary tools cane and information and 2 years churning out reeds under the mentoring of Craig Fisher to make a stable reed that I can reproduce. I make my own chanters. I Know as a learner I stuffed up reeds and was left high and dry, again must be something wrong with me. Bastiaan Schwaneberg as you are in Katwijk, Netherlands 1. You would have to send your chanter to a maker to have reeds fitted 2. Until you can make your own reeds you will never know how good your pipes are 3. you will be at the mercy of a pipemaker 4. Average reeds that you make will get you by until you get that EUREKA moment and the mystery of reeds (the heart of the instrument) are no more. I recommend making reeds while or before buying pipes. Knowledge is power. I am getting betterer and betereterer

Re: Self Teaching Uilleann Pipes, Any Tips?

I’m not good with tools, I prefer to have my reeds made for me by an excellent reed maker. I am a musician, not a woodworker. Got it?

Re: Self Teaching Uilleann Pipes, Any Tips?

I have tried making reeds, I hate it, and I refuse to let it stop my enjoyment of the instrument. Every penny i pay for a professional set-up by someone else is worth it to me. YMMV

Re: Self Teaching Uilleann Pipes, Any Tips?

I think reedmaking, unless you’re talented with tools and confident in your ability to produce consistent, precise results from an early stage, is a waste of time for a beginner that just wants to get on with playing. It’s not like oboe where we are forced to make new reeds constantly.

Re: Self Teaching Uilleann Pipes, Any Tips?

I have seen a lot of adult beginners with some promise go down the rabbit hole of reedmaking and never make any progress on their own playing in terms of being able to keep good time, articulate cleanly, and acquire much in the way of a repertoire.

Re: Self Teaching Uilleann Pipes, Any Tips?

> Reedmaking is only useful if you are capable enough as a player to judge your own work as suitable.

> 2 years churning out reeds under the mentoring of Craig Fisher

Sounds like you two are in agreement, really. I do agree churning out reeds without any ability to know what you’re creating is working is probably not the best use of your time.

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Re: Self Teaching Uilleann Pipes, Any Tips?

Pie-eyed piper "2. Until you can make your own reeds you will never know how good your pipes are 3. you will be at the mercy of a pipemaker " - Exactly wrong on both counts. 2. You need a good reed made by a good maker to know how good your pipes are unless you are a good reedmaker yourself. 3 the pipemaker is at the mercy of you, not the other way round. Wind instruments in particular can sound hellish if not set up or played well and often the maker gets unfairly questioned.

Re: Self Teaching Uilleann Pipes, Any Tips?

When I first started playing the pipes 20+ years ago, I got all the materials and tools required to make chanter reeds.

I worked at it for the first year or so as I had a set that came with unusable reeds. I had no idea about pipes when I bought it, was supposedly a good maker, but didn’t work out so well.

Then about a year later, I got my second set, which was a half-set by Kirk Lynch. The original chanter reed on that one lasted probably 7 years before I damaged it in a moment of inattention. At that time, one of our SCUPC members was making some nice generic chanter reeds, and it happened that his design worked wonderfully in my Lynch chanter. Played on his reed probably for another 7 years.

Then I got my Koehler chanter that I still play today. I’m fortunate that Benedict Koehler and SCUPC club member Michael O’Donovan have been collaborating for a very long time on reeds, and Michael and I have essentially twin chanters. So, I’ve been playing with one of Michael’s reeds in the chanter for I think well over 10 years now, with the most recent upgrade being to spruce, which I’m absolutely loving and hope to be playing on for another 10 years or more.

A couple of years ago I sold the Lynch chanter to a friend, but still play the rest of the Lynch set in a 3/4 set configuration.

I’ll probably get labeled a heretic for saying this (wouldn’t be the first time, that’s for sure), but I think this mystique about pipers having to be reed makers is a holdover from a time where it was much more difficult to find information and materials or meet up with other players/makers.

I would think in many cases, you had to make your own reeds. You didn’t have thesession.org or any number of groups on Facebook, or YouTube or Zoom where you could easily find and communicate with other players and makers who you could work with to get repairs or reeds. Of course, if you want to make reeds today, you can order all the tools and materials you need and learn to do it, but I don’t think it’s a requirement.

Long before I ever played Irish music, I was involved with private aviation, specifically the EAA (Experimental Aircraft Association). I noticed there were two kinds of people in that organization, builders, and flyers. The builders loved to build things. The flyers loved to fly and relied on the builders to support them.

Does every guitar player need to be a luthier and able to repair and refret their own instrument or reset the neck to be considered a "real" guitarist?

I don’t think so.

I may take up reed making again in my retirement, but until then I’m thrilled to have friends and fellow piping club members who are very enthusiastic about reed making and generously willing to provide me with a reed for my chanter every 10 years or so if necessary.

I find that they appreciate the feedback I give them when playing on their reeds over long periods of time, in varying temperature and humidity conditions, to help them refine their design.

Re: Self Teaching Uilleann Pipes, Any Tips?

Well some strong opinions there, along with mine. I churned out the reeds. Craig a reed maker of renown rejected the reeds until I had a grasp of the art and could turn out a half decent reed and among the half decent reeds there are the exceptional ones. Correct me but (i am sure you will) I was of the opinion that a lot of very fine players make there own reeds. I am not a carpenter an engineer,leather worker, metal worker, hydraulics specialists.But after making a few sets of UPs will make the statement that Reeds and reamers are the very soul of this mystical beast. I can make a Pakistani set sound half reasonable using them.
Most of the posts seem to be close to a maker How lucky are you I live in a state 10 times the size of Ireland with 3 UP players that I know of. Necessity the mother of invention. Those who have given upon making reeds will still have gained an insight into the working an delicacy of the reed making art and treat a good reed with reverence. A newbie will experiment. I still stand by my "make your own reeds " If you are going to spend decades learning the instrument.Its a given.

Re: Self Teaching Uilleann Pipes, Any Tips?

Bogman "Exactly wrong on both counts. 2. You need a good reed made by a good maker to know how good your pipes are unless you are a good reedmaker yourself. "

You answered my statement Become a good reedmaker yourself end of problems

Re: Self Teaching Uilleann Pipes, Any Tips?

No, your statement was "2. Until you can make your own reeds you will never know how good your pipes are".

Of course learning to make reeds is useful, not but essential or recommended for a beginners as you suggest. Even in a state "10 times the size of Ireland". It is 2020 after all.

Re: Self Teaching Uilleann Pipes, Any Tips?

> I was of the opinion that a lot of very fine players make there own reeds.

Seumas Ennis never made a reed.

> Most of the posts seem to be close to a maker

And you were taught by Craig Fisher, how much time would you have wasted without his guidance?

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Re: Self Teaching Uilleann Pipes, Any Tips?

I personally find the painstaking, exacting and fussy nature of reedmaking incredibly tedious. I really have better things to do, but there are people who enjoy that sort of work. No one *has* to make reeds, and I would advise a beginner to focus on playing, unless futzing around endlessly with bits of cane is the sort of thing they actually like. Then by all means, learn to make them. But it’s not a requirement.

Re: Self Teaching Uilleann Pipes, Any Tips?

I’m really enjoying this thread. As a fiddler I don’t have to worry about reeds, but I played - pre-Covid - with a fine piper and got to appreciate the importance of reeds. (Also, duct tape.) It sounds to me like an arcane, mysterious black art. Go pipers.

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Re: Self Teaching Uilleann Pipes, Any Tips?

"I have seen a lot of adult beginners with some promise go down the rabbit hole of reedmaking and never make any progress on their own playing in terms of being able to keep good time, articulate cleanly, and acquire much in the way of a repertoire."

Is that a fact which can be corroborated, MP1996? I seriously have no way to know if there is a significant correlation between reedmaking & the listed lack of progress in learning to play pipes.

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Re: Self Teaching Uilleann Pipes, Any Tips?

"I have seen a lot of adult beginners with some promise go down the rabbit hole of reedmaking and never make any progress on their own playing in terms of being able to keep good time, articulate cleanly, and acquire much in the way of a repertoire."

So what?

I have seen a lot of adult beginners with some promise of making good reeds go down the rabbit hole of learning to keep good time and articulate cleanly but never make any progress on making decent reeds.