Bagpipe Lessons with Neil Clark
Neil Clark here, of Torwood, Stirlingshire. Basically, I’m 47 and have been a piper all my life. So was my Dad, and my Grandfather. Proud to say my son James is too. I think he’d say he didn’t have a choice. I’ve been playing since age 4, via the Scots Guards (2nd Batt), Strathclyde Police, and now Shotts and Dykehead. I’ve competed solo up to age 21, and I’m now back on the competing circuit. I have to say it’s harder than I remember. I’ve played at the Edinburgh Tattoo, State Banquets for Royalty, and have been all over the world playing.
Whilst still in Strathclyde Police, I was lucky enough to be asked to teach a number of cadets, ending up with Glasgow and Lanarkshire Army Cadets, and Scotland and Northern Ireland Air Cadets. I think teaching has been the best experience of my piping career. It’s a real buzz to see pupils progress every week, and watch the joy they get from the instrument. So. With a maximum of two years Police Service left, it was time to look at life after uniform. To cut a long story short, I became involved with a band in Houston, Texas last May, the day after my Grandfather, a Wartime piper in the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders 51st Highland Division, died. The vision was that I would keep an eye on things via SKYPE, and visit from time to time. Despite initial misgivings, I was quickly sold on the idea, and saw the tremendous potential. Now, I’m certainly not the first to do internet lessons, but its fair to say it’s a very new concept. The ease of the method however, took me totally by surprise. Firstly, there’s none of the “hello, hello, London calling” about it at all. Connections are generally first class, and once, I even managed to play along with a pupil.
Advantages of Bagpipe Lessons on Skype
- Neither of us needs to leave the house! So we’re not late, stuck in traffic, cold, wet.
- It’s just you and me in the room, so concentration is excellent. No distractions like there would be in a classroom.
- Communication between us is (has to be) crystal clear. I have to put my instructions to you in a way which you can follow first time, or as close to first time, as possible.
- We can share music/files etc over the net immediately. (Copyright permitting). Just find, copy and send. Simple as that. A pupil astounded me the other day when he performed this function in about 2 seconds.
- Frequently when attending a lesson/practice, time is wasted waiting on other people, halls to open, last pupil to leave. We’re there at the appointed time, hands warm, ready to go!
- Most skyping is done with the practice chanter, but we can work with pipes too. Just stand further away from the mike, and things are fine. I can even help tune your pipes over the net.
So, The worlds’ worst technophobe (me) is sold on the idea. The only disadvantage I can see is that I can’t physically adjust a pupils instrument for them. But guess what? They do it themselves, under my direction, and learn how to do it for themselves. Instead of just turning up at a practice with the familiar refrain “my pipes are broke, can you fix them please”?
I hold the Tutors’ Certificate, awarded by the Piping and Drumming Qualifications Board . Additionally, and unusually for Piping Instructors, I have received training in the design and delivery of training whilst an instructor at the Scottish Police College.
Time zones aren’t a problem, after all, I’m in the house anyway! I get up every Wednesday morning for a lesson with a young man in Christchurch New Zealand. At 05:30. I have pupils in Scotland, England, Germany, New York State, Mississippi, California, Michigan, Quebec, South Africa, and New Zealand. Its great meeting people from all over the world in my own house. Two of my Skypers have come and stayed with me for intensive tuition and “piping tourism”. Please see my site for details. – I have a domain name registered for this, which I will put into place as soon as I retire from the police service. Until then, limited places are available
Why not give it a try? I have one pupil who has learned with me, completely from scratch, and another who has 6 piobaireachd, so all levels are welcome!
The first lesson is free! Lets me get to know you, roughly assess you, and you can decide if Skyping is for you or not. No time limit on our first lesson, we just take it as it comes.
I can be contacted easily on my webpage; www.GreatGlenPiping.com