Are you ever surprised at the confidence with which some pipers can tune their pipes? The ‘no-fear’ attitude shines through and I guess it’s all about messing up, learning what went wrong and knowing why. Here’s a story from a young female piper who’s experience maybe similar to many others.
Playing grade 2 as a teenager I worked hard to keep my pipes in tune, trying to train my ear to what I thought I could hear at band practice. At practice most of the tuning was done by the PM. Between band practices I would not ‘fiddle’ with reeds or tape too much in case the PM sat me out at the next meeting for my pipes being wildly out of tune or ‘not in the park’. Looking back, it was an area that I lacked confidence in and did not learn as much as I should have partly because I was so fearful of messing up or being dropped.
As my playing progressed and I played in better bands home and abroad, fine tuning by ear became expected. It would be fair to say that my tuning skills did not improve in parallel with my playing. Now we have such things as the HBT2 and HBT-3 bagpipe tuner. So before band practise, I find out what our band is pitched at and tune by myself at home without the fear of making a mess of things.
With this, less confident pipers can afford to ‘fiddle’ with tuning as its so much simpler to get your pipes back on track. For me it has taught my ear to hear finer tuning differences, stopped any fear of things going wrong and gives me a lot more confidence.