Sunday, September 7, 2008

Three Things I Know . . .

1. One should not put down one's musical instrument for a great length of time.
I took a sabbatical from my bagpipes . . . for about a year and a half if the truth be told, and that's way too long. I committed last October to playing in church for Reformation Sunday this year (at the end of October). You see where this is going, don't you? I was sitting in the choir chancel at church today, looking up at the balcony (where I play from) and realized I had better get cracking - the bagpipes are not an instrument you can just pick back up and play like a pro.

So I sat down today with my practice chanter (not even my pipes again yet) and pulled out some of my tunes. The spirit, as they say, is willing, but the flesh - in this case my mouth - is weak. "Oh Crap" weak. Yes, my fingers are a little rusty - particularly on the burls, but those will come back relatively quickly if I remember to take my jewelry off and not play too fast for a bit - the muscle memory is there. The bad part is suffering what I call "Mr. Ed Mouth" all over again. The bagpipes are a wind instrument - please, no jokes about me being full of hot air - and your lips make a seal around the chanter. This means that, ideally, all the air goes into the chanter. Like any other muscle in the body, however, the muscles around and in the lips cannot hold one position endlessly without tiring, particularly if you haven't played for a year and a half (you doofus).

So, you get to the fourth part of a four part, 6/8 march, and you can feel your lips losing their grip. You purse them harder and harder, trying to keep the seal on the chanter, and then they start to cramp, and then you lose your seal for sure, and air and spit come burbling out the sides of your mouth all the while you're still trying like hell to play. The air escaping, coupled with spit and your lips losing their grip on the chanter make a noise like Mr. Ed (he was a horse - of course :-D and if you didn't get that reference you need to watch some old telly).

Try it with me now: rest your lips together and exhale through your mouth, letting the air flap your lips apart - they'll flap back and forth as the air goes out. Pretend you're six years old again and making a "horse noise." Guaranteed to make you laugh - which isn't so good when you're trying desperately to make it through the last half of the fourth part of the 6/8 march you're hoping to have in some sort of recognizable shape for Reformation Sunday. I can't practice as long as I might like because my mouth and lips won't cooperate . . . I see a lot of hours at the kitchen table, practice chanter in mouth in the days and weeks ahead I'm afraid - if I want to be ready to play by the end of October. :-S

2. Being with your friends is good.
What a wonderful afternoon with Knifty Red and Knitterary yesterday! Knitting, spinning, good food (Calico Bean Dip, pastries, hummus, carrots, cheese, beer, water, windmill cookies), good music (assorted Celtic - what else at my house? :-)), and best of all, good conversation among friends. :-) After the wild journey home on Friday, it was good to sit back and relax. I nearly finished the superwash merino I started over Labor Day. It was 4 oz., but I tried to spin it pretty thin. I'm hopeful that this time I might have enough yardage for some socks. I got this yarn last year at YarnCon from a local woman. I can't remember her name, unfortunately or I would share it here because the colors are gorgeous and the color saturation is pretty amazing too. Wow - I hope there's enough!

3. This is my favorite time of the year.
Hardly need to add anything to that . . . but I will ;-) I filled the bird feeder again yesterday to get the cardinals in practice for finding it again come winter. Found out my crabapple tree is actually a plum tree, and it's really quite pretty. Maybe next year, now that I know what it is, I'll take better care of it and have yummy plums to eat! The days are already cooler, and I've put my fall decorations on the front door. And some of my friends and I are thinking of knitting Alice Starmore's St. Brigid sweater as a KAL, and although we likely won't start until January some time - I'm already thinking about it and the yarn I want to use and how I might have to modify it to fit me . . . all the thoughts of fall :-)


Knitterary said...

I had a wonderful, fun, relaxing afternoon with you and Red yesterday. Thank you so much!

Kris said...

It was quite fun to sit and spin with you both. I love our little get-togethers... looking forward to doing it again.

Anonymous said...

not that much different from playing the clarinet - I can't even play 10 bars any more without getting winded - I use to be so good at it too

I've added the ingrediants for the Calico Bean dip to my next grocery order - it sounds and looks amaizing :-)

Michelle at Boulderneigh said...

One of the fascinating things I learned about the mountain dulcimer as I was falling in love with them at Silver Dollar City is that they are supposed to - and really do - sound like bagpipes! Especially if you use the little wooden dowel instead of your finger on the notes. I had no idea you play the pipes; think you could get someone to video you so you can share your contribution in church on your blog? Pretty please?

Linda said...

That bean dip has tomatos in it! How can you eat that? Or is the tomato-y taste well-disguised?

I've seen that chanter laying on the table in your kitchen for ages. You mean it was just for show? ;-)

A :-) said...

OK - I gotta say that when I opened the cans of tomatoes I thought I would gag, but once they are mixed in with everything else, they're more like salsa, which seems to hide the nasty taste of regular tomatoes! And I was pretty negligent about practicing . . . but I'm practicing now. And Michelle - no, I'm sorry, no videotapes :-) I'm not a world-class player.

Michelle at Boulderneigh said...

Oh come on! Bagpipes are such a novelty (and very difficult, I understand) that we will be impressed with ANYthing! At least I would be. :-)

Cheryl said...

You are too cool!!!! My husband wore a kilt at our wedding and we walked into the reception to bagpipe are a hoot. have been nominated, check out my blog.