Thursday, April 21, 2011



We have been informed of the passing of Lewis Turrell in Auckland, New Zealand on the 21st April 2011 after a long battle with lung cancer. A sad loss for piping in this part of the world. Lewis was a much loved character and friend to all he met. A pupil of William Kennedy, George McLennan and PM Donald McLeod M.B.E. Lewis rose to legendary status in 1958 when he won the Gold Medal at Inverness playing the "Rout of the MacPhees" (the first overseas competitor to do so). On that day he also won the Strathspeys and Reels, the Jig and was second in the March. He has been Pipe Major of the Invercargill and Wellington Pipe Bands and has made such a huge impact on piping in New Zealand. Lewis will be sadly missed by all.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Latest Bash at Kilt Wearers

Today's Advertiser Newspaper has a ridiculous comment from former Foreign Minister Alexander Downer, that just highlights what a pompous, more "English than the English" prat he really is. Suggesting that Prince Charles eccentricities including his kilt wearing do not sit well with most Australians. Well I would suggest that any such comments regarding a national dress are out of place, and a former Foreign Minister should be sympathetic to such matters. The large percentage of Australian's who are proudly of Scottish descent may feel differently, and I am sure many other nationalities who are proud to wear their own national dress would be supportive as well.

Can you imagine suggesting that a Royal from any other nation was eccentric for wearing their own national dress and that "it didn't sit well with most Australians"?

Speak on your own behalf Sassenach there are many proud kilt wearers in Australia.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Bagpipe Instruction Manual Review

Bagpipe Instruction Manual Review by John Miner

“I recently had the opportunity of acquiring “The Bagpipe Instruction Manual “by Brett Tidswell. Not to be confused with the more comprehensive “Complete Piper’s Handbook”, this smaller, 32 page, manual was designed to provide as much useful information on bagpipe setup and maintenance as possible into a small, portable, booklet that can be thrown into the pipe case and reviewed at a moment’s notice.

Anyone who knows me knows that I am a complete nut when it comes to bagpipe maintenance. I have always felt that there is a special relationship and connection between the piper and his/her instrument. The time and energy one invests in learning and caring for the pipe will be returned many times in the form of a pipe that sounds great and is reliable and dependable every time. I have long been a fan of Brett’s site and have found it a great resource for anyone who is interested in bagpipe care and maintenance.

I was actually very surprised with how much information Brett was able to cram into so few pages. Although similar in appearance to the old classic “Piper’s Handbook” by Pipe Major John MacLellan, I found the “Bagpipe Instruction Manual” to cover more topics and to be much more in depth. There is no time spent covering history or other topics. The book is 100% focused on providing clear and helpful information. It also contains many helpful photos, including detailed instructions on tying hemp bridles for cane drone reeds, diagrams of how to alter chanter reeds, and many others.

I think this book will become required reading for all of my students. The bagpipe can be an intimidating beast for a new player. This book provides a clear list of all the “must haves” for your pipe box, instructions on drone cords, bags, bag covers, valves, moisture control, reed basics, and many other topics. All very helpful for the novice player. Having said this, the book also contains enough valuable information to make it very much worthwhile to the intermediate to advanced players. The largest portion of the book is dedicated solely to reed trouble shooting and manipulation, both for drones and chanter. Pretty much every possible problem is addressed, and simple, helpful solutions are provided for each. It certainly goes well beyond the basics and is probably the best I’ve seen in the form of a small, comprehensive maintenance and setup guide. Certainly a worthwhile resource to have available for any piper. There is also some mention of matters of refinement, pitch, tone, and tuning positions, but readers are referred to the “Complete Piper’s Handbook” for more in depth discussion on these issues.

I appreciate this book because it helps take a lot of the mystery and superstition out of bagpipe setup. Certainly some these techniques take time to master, but many other tips can be applied immediately and become a great help to the player. There is no reason in this day and age that pipers of any ability cannot have a well set up, reliable, and pleasant instrument to enjoy. For those looking for a compact, clear, and comprehensive guide to “de-mystifying” bagpipe setup and maintenance, or simply looking learning a few new tricks to have a better sounding bagpipe, this book is a must for the pipe case.”

The Manual is available from