It just so happens that former Senior PM Hugh MacPherson of the Canadian Armed Forces was traversing Texas on his way to Arizona and stopped in Lubbock. We had the opportunity to play for him and get some tips. He reminded us that the band needs a good 15 minutes of playing before one should even consider moving a chanter reed for tuning purposes; what was achieved tuning wise at the last band practice will probably be regained; provided the tenors aren’t moved when putting them in the case, just get the bass drones roughly where they were and get to playing to warm up. The other big take away for me was a reason for taping the tone holes. Previously, I’ve only taped the tone holes in the event that the low G was sharp, but I also noted that it did slightly affect the pitch of low A and B. Hugh presented the idea that taping the tone holes was also a way to help balance a chanter that was sharp on the bottom hand; this is a new method of balancing a chanter that I had not previously thought of and will have to give more consideration to in the future. Hugh also suggested we pick up several slow marches for the purpose of teaching pipers to blow properly as the slowness of the tune allows one to hear tuning/blowing variations. Lastly, he also suggested we pick up a few 2 part 6/8 marches, “stuff all bands should know,” (Bonnie Dundee for example).
Lastly, we did get Hugh to break out his 1897 (I think) blackwood Henderson bagpipes. He tells us that this set of pipes has quite the (military) history and it is featured on the cover of his (second?) book, but I cannot find links to them though I understand they are available from Scott’s Highland Services.
It was a great night of piping and conversation!