Friday, November 18, 2011

Scottish Heritage Center at the Queen Mary

Have I shared that I'm taking bagpipe lessons (again)? If not, I'm (re)diving into the world of circular breathing into a bag, then squeezing that air through three pipes and the chanter where the notes are played. As my (new) instructor has pointed out, there are only nine notes, how hard can it be?!

Of all the instruments I could pick, why bagpipes, you ask? They're yet another of my Hoosierland influences. My high school's mascot was the Highlander. Pipers played in the marching band. I was on the journalism track, so I wrote for "The Bagpiper" school newspaper and our "Bartizan" yearbook. (Bartizans are castle turrets and are part of Scottish Baronial style architecture.) Bagpipe music and the accompanying men in kilts were just slices of normal for me.

Once again, it was the move to NYC to shake that reality. On my first trip there - spring break during senior year of college - I was registering at a job placement agency. It happened to be St. Patrick's Day, and there was a parade in the street. The whole office stopped upon hearing the skirl of the pipes and rushed to the open window. Once the pipe band passed, everyone went back to work as if nothing happened. I was definitely not in Indiana anymore!

Since then, I've taken classes and actually learned to play the pipes. Woohoo! I bought my pipes from my high school, so that connection continues. But that was 14 years ago, and I'm starting over. My biggest challenge so far is unlearning old instructions and relearning new techniques. Oy! Luckily, I have some resources in the process, including the Scottish Heritage Center at the Queen Mary. As you may imagine, bagpiping supply outlets are pretty few and far between. There aren't that many options for instant gratification for bag seasoning, as an example. The folks at the Scottish Heritage Center totally hooked me up! And, their location on the Queen Mary is very cool, indeed.

Stay tuned for my latest adventures with the pipes. The Scottish Heritage Center sponsors the Long Beach Scottish Festival in February, so I'll be looking forward to that. Fingers are crossed that I'll be blowing my pipes by then!

Click here to go to their Web site.

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