Saturday, November 20, 2010

Most amazing Bagpipe ever!

In collaboration with Mark Saul, I have just put up an article on the School of Piping website about John Center Bagpipe Maker. In it are photographs Mark supplied of the most amazing bagpipe I have ever seen. A true museum piece.

The full article can be seen here:

I hope you all enjoy it.

Monday, November 15, 2010

NSW Seminar and State Solo Championships

It was with great pleasure that I was able to accept the recent invitation of the APBA (NSW Branch) and hold a seminar about bagpipe maintenance and sound and the 13th Nov 2010 and adjudicate at the State Solo Championships the following day.
The seminar was held at the Matisse/Derivan’s premises which was kindly loaned to the Association by Steven Patterson. The seminar was well attended and we covered many topics ranging from basic maintenance checks through to advanced tone enhancing techniques and products. Much of the material covered can found in “The Complete Pipers Handbook” and at the website at I hope there will be a chance to follow this up with a more practical seminar in the not too distant future. It seems that the seminar was well received.

The NSW state solo championships were held in the pristine grounds of Scots College on the shores of the Sydney Harbour. This is a great venue and the branch is very lucky to have access each year at no cost. This is obviously a great contribution by Scots College to the piping fraternity in that state. The venue had 10 marquees set up with an event in each. They also used the auditorium for some of the more senior events and a veranda for the Piobaireachd events.

I was thrilled to see three heats for the elementary finals. Each heat contained approximately 12 – 15 young pipers. I must say in some of the lower events many pipers let themselves down with poor performances of tunes that were too difficult, or missing repeated parts etc. The level of playing was very good overall with some very solid performances by some of the early stage pipers. It is always refreshing to see youngsters being well taught.

There were good numbers in each grade and I managed to adjudicate the elementary Marches, the elementary Air (final), Sub-Intermediate Strathspey and Reel, Intermediate Hornpipe and Jig and the Open Strathspey and Reel.

I was most impressed with the performances of Aaron O’Neill in Intermediate and Robert Gibb in Open. Both played at a very high level.
A most enjoyable weekend and I must thank the NSW branch and especially my hosts Sam and Liz Young for a wonderful weekend.

Brett Tidswell
National Principal of Piping


Monday, November 8, 2010

Musical Perception!

What do we miss?


This was sent to me today and I just had to share it.....

In Washington , DC , at a Metro Station, on a cold January morning in 2007, this man with a violin played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time, approximately 2,000 people went through the station, most of them on their way to work.

After about 3 minutes, a middle-aged man noticed that there was a musician playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds, and then he hurried on to meet his schedule.

About 4 minutes later:
The violinist received his first dollar. A woman threw money in the hat and, without stopping, continued to walk.

Another 6 minutes:
A young man leaned against the wall to listen to him, then looked at his watch and started to walk again.

A further 10 minutes:
A 3-year old boy stopped, but his mother tugged him along hurriedly. The kid stopped to look at the violinist again, but the mother pushed hard and the child continued to walk, turning his head the whole time. This action was repeated by several other children, but every parent - without exception - forced their children to move on quickly.

At 45 minutes:
The musician played continuously. Only 6 people stopped and listened for a short while. About 20 gave money but continued to walk at their normal pace. The man collected a total of $32.

In the end:

He finished playing and silence took over. No one noticed and no one applauded. There was no recognition at all.

No one knew this, but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the greatest musicians in the world. He played one of the most intricate pieces ever written, with a violin worth $3.5 million dollars. Two days before, Joshua Bell sold-out a theater in Boston where the seats averaged $100 each to sit and listen to him play the same music.

This is a true story. Joshua Bell, playing incognito in the D.C. Metro Station, was organized by the Washington Post as part of a social experiment about perception, taste and people's priorities.

This experiment raised several questions:

*In a common-place environment, at an inappropriate hour, do we perceive beauty?

*If so, do we stop to appreciate it?

*Do we recognize talent in an unexpected context?

One possible conclusion reached from this experiment was this:

If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world, playing some of the finest music ever written, with one of the most beautiful instruments ever made . . ..

How many other things are we missing as we rush through life?