The week I spend at Adelynrood with NEPADA is always a high point of my year. I come home from camp charged up, and have a hard time readjusting to the world that doesn’t revolve around playing pipes for hours a day and being with like-minded others.
This past year something changed. At the end of camp I was committed to improving my skills over the interim, not letting the usual doldrums take over. I want to tell you what has worked for me. I also want to know what you do to keep motivated and moving forward.
I have made some changes that have had a great impact. One was fairly simple. I relocated my practice area to a space that is dedicated to piping. It is away from the main area of my home so I don’t feel I’m disturbing anyone.
I can play the same phrase or tune over and over again until I get it right. And sometimes that can take quite a while. I have all my gear close at hand and accessible as needed. A small change, but it has made a big difference in the quality and amount of practice.
Another strategy was to actually make some changes suggested at camp by both instructors and fellow campers. I swapped my bag for a smaller size and added a moisture control system.
I got a tuner and metronome on my phone. I sent off for an aerodynamic mouthpiece. Each a step towards better comfort and ease of playing. My biggest challenge was to confront some skill issues that have hampered my progress, timing and tuning. In order to face these head on I knew I would need help.
Previously, I booked a once monthly Skype lesson with a exacting and supportive teacher. I decided I’d up it to twice a month. The shorter time between lessons has done wonders in terms of motivation.
The lessons are in step with the NEPADA exam syllabus which helps me stay on track. The syllabus has been revised and can be viewed on the NEPADA website under Curriculum and Exams.
I have always needed one-on-one feedback and a goal to keep me focused. I still have a long road ahead, but the way is clearer. These changes have helped me feel more connected to NEPADA’s high standards, even when away from camp.
I hope this will help you with your musical journey. I know I am moving in the right direction. Many of the ideas came from talking with fellow students at camp. What do you do in the months between camp? What works for you? Let’s keep the conversation going.
November 9th, 2018