I’m finally feeling some progress is being made with that octopus. A few hurdles needed to be overcome, however. Being stuck in a part of the world where face-to-face access to experienced pipers is extremely difficult, learning to jump those hurdles was a hit and miss affair. But, in the end I managed to clear most of them so far.
The hurdles took the following shape:
1. the blowpipe that came with the original set of McCallum’s was about 50% too long. I figured that out after watching numerous youtube videos of accomplished pipers. If they were right handed, their lower right arm was generally parallel to the ground, while mine was at about 45 degree angle! I could just about scratch my knee. Something was amiss. I also had trouble tucking that bag comfortably under my armpit without feeling my head being skewered by the blowpipe. A bit research indicated that there was such a thing as a length-adjustable blowpipe. Out went an order for the airstream telescopic blowpipe. It duly arrived and finally my bag could settle under my arm. Problem 2 arose.
2. that oval mouth piece was supposed to be much easier to deal with than the round one. It was, but I still didn’t have the lip-power to keep a seal on it. A bit more research led me to Garry Gifford’s website, and the flat mouthpiece. I ordered two. They felt absolutely natural in my mouth. No seal problem. No lip fatigue ( sounds like an ad for lip balm). Next problem.
3. there was a leak between the blowpipe and the mouthpiece insertion. Fixed that with a bit of blu-tack and a hose clamp.
Looks ugly, but it works. What more could an aspiring piper want? Ok, to be able to play like a Grade 1 piper, yes. Sure. One day… maybe… can I order that online somewhere? No. Next problem.
4. i had a set of medium resistance chanter reeds from PipeDream Reeds. They were pretty good, but I wanted to try the low resistance reeds. One sweet week later, I had one installed, struck in the bag and WOW! What a beautiful tone! It was something to behold, even for a bleeding raw beginner like me. I was floating.
Buoyed by all this technical progress, I played through Amazing Grace. Kind of apt. I admit that it was not perfect. I was not able to maintain consistent pressure on the bag, however it was not bad at all.
I’ll make a recording of it soon and post it here for posterity.