Sunday, June 12, 2005

Practice: Cut Slow

Another interesting piece of feedback I got in reference to my earlier post on learning to play tunes simply before adding ornamentation was this comment from "Sam_T" who noted that beginning pipers must use at least some ornamentation since they don't have the option of tonguing:

In practice, this means that you have to learn to use cuts and rolls from the beginning to get through virtually any tune. This might sound terrifying, but in fact just leads to different emphasis on learning. For example, the first tunes I was taught on the pipes were the Rambling Pitchfork, the Kesh and Garrett Barry's, all of which feature prominent rolls - this is precisely why they were chosen. Of course I played them VERY SLOWLY INDEED.

And this is just the point. None of the ornaments used in whistle playing are "difficult", in the sense of requiring any particularly complex motor skills to perform (although I might leave crans as an exception); it's not usually the movements themselves that cause the problem, but coordinating them at speed. Most people can play a perfectly good cut or tap in isolation, from the first time they pick up a whistle. The struggle comes in stringing them together. So the solution is to play slowly.

Another benefit of learning ornamentation from the beginning is that it gets you quickly out of the habit of gripping the whistle/chanter too hard. It's virtually impossible to play a good cut when you're hanging on to the instrument as if your life depended on it.

There's more good stuff in this post, so read the whole thing.

I'm practicing cuts on a couple of airs now, so it's natural to play them slowly. I think I might start the Kesh/Kerrigan's jig next, since L.E. McCullough has a number of variations of this one in his tutuorial, both simple and complex.

No comments: