Happy St. Patrick's Day!!

Happy St. Patrick's Day everyone!!!!

I'm off to my pub crawl today, but what kind of a Piping Girl would I be if I didn't post on the technical date of St. Patrick's Day. I know a lot of you might have celebrated this past Saturday but for me, St. Patrick's Day is today.

Just a couple of quick reminders, if you didn't make it to a parade on Saturday, chances are pretty good that you can still find one today. And don't forget that the New York City St. Patrick's Day parade is streaming their parade live at 11am Eastern Standard time of course

You can also check out Dublin's St. Patrick's Day webcam or check out a bunch of other webcams of Dublin.

Here's a video from last year's festivities in Dublin:

Here's another good video of a bagpipe band playing in a parade in Cork, Ireland 2007:

If you're after other St. Patrick's Day events like finding pubs that are celebrating or creating a tune list for your own party, don't forget to check out my St. Patrick's Day Preparations Post.

And if you're looking for some history on just what it is we are celebrating, check out my post from Saturday.

Here a couple of other amusing videos I found to get you in the mood for whatever it is that you do on this St. Patrick's Day. First, a video from the Oregon Zoo last year demonstrating that even Polar Bears celebrate St. Patrick's Day:

Finally, did you know that the beer company Guinness is lobbying to make St. Patrick's Day a federal holiday? They have an online petition and their grassroots effort has been titled Proposition 3-17. They have over 250,000 signatures so far.

I'm not a particular fan of this brew of beer, but I find the proposition interesting and this commercial amusing:

Happy St. Patrick's Day Everyone!!!!
Pipe on!!!!


Getting Ready for My St. Patrick's Day

So tomorrow is my band's big St. Patrick's Day pub crawl. There's also a deeper significance to tomorrow, it marks my one year anniversary of playing publicly with my band. I played the practice chanter for a year, than was a year on the pipes, and than made my debut with the band last year.

St. Patrick's Day is also important for my band, because, while we aren't a competitive band, we march in parades all summer long, and St. Patrick's Day is the unofficial start of our parade season too.

Last year St. Patrick's Day was on a Saturday, this year due to leap year, it's on a Monday. It will be very interesting to see what a St. Patrick's Day pub crawl is like on a weekday.

So what have I been doing to get ready for St. Patrick's Day?

1) Practicing

I got a bad cold last weekend and wasn't able to practice for several days, so I'm trying to get a bit of my playing stamina back. I also figured out that my bass drone reed was really loose, making it really tough to play too. Stuck into the bottom of each of the long stocks that stick out of the bagpipe bag is a drone reed. This fell out of my drone and into my bag. Well when I figured out how to get it out of my bag, it became loose again, this basically prevents an airtight seal from taking place and me feel like I was hyperventilating when I was trying to play my bagpipes.

Now that my drone reed issue is resolved and I'm feeling better, I've had some super good practice sessions over the last coupe of days so I feel a lot more confident about playing tomorrow.

Here are the sets that I've been focusing on, and that I'll be playing tomorrow:

"Scotland the Brave"-"Murdo's Wedding"-"Wings"
"The Green Hills of Tyrol"-"Balmoral"
"Bathgate Highland Gathering"-"Suo Guan"-"Tenny Penny Bit"-"Lady Carmichael"
"Argyll's Crossing the River Po"-"Battles O'er"
"Amazing Grace"
"Gardens of Skye"-"Leaving Liverpool"
"Cockney Jocks"-"Bonnie Lass O'Fyfe"

There's a quartet of pipers in my group that will be playing an Irish set that includes "Oh Danny Boy","Minstrel Boy" and "Wearing O' the Green".

2) Getting my uniform in order.

St. Patrick's Day last year was also the debut of all of my cool bagpipe uniform stuff. I have a white dress shirt, kilt, sporran (black purse like thing that hangs around my waste), belt, hose (socks), glengarry (hat), flashes (little bits of cloth that hang off the socks), kilt pin, hat pin and sgian dubh (little ceremonial dagger tucked in my sock).

Tomorrow I'll also be wearing my new ghillie brogues, these are special shoes my band decided would be part of our band uniform. I did wear them at our Burns Dinner back in January, but that was just for a few hours. So I'll be curious to see how they hold up to pretty much a whole day of wearing and moving about.

I'll also be wearing my brand new argyle jacket. This is something else my band decided to add to its uniform and at the Burns Dinner, I realized I was just about the only one not to have one yet. So I ordered it about a month ago, it was on back order, and it came in the mail on Friday! More importantly, it also fit. The weather tomorrow isn't supposed to be the greatest so I think it will definitely come in handy.

3) Making Sure My Bagpipes Are Ready

I already talked about my bass drone reed, but there are a few other maintenance type things I've been doing like taping up my mouth piece, my chanter, and my drones. Over time they can get loose, so I use tape (hemp can also be used), to make sure they're all set. One time at a practice last summer a piper in my band had their chanter literally fall out of their bag when we were marching, it was too loose! And it scared me, because chanters can pretty easily crack and break. I also bought a new cord for my bagpipes, this is the bit that holds the drones all together, I haven't replaced this yet, but I still might do it yet tonight...we'll see.

And that's about it. My band is meeting at 2pm tomorrow to tune and than we'll hit our first bar at 3pm. We'll make 9 stops total (although some of those are repeat stops at the same bar), and our last scheduled stop is at 9:30pm.

We're all going to ride around on a bus together for part of the pub crawl too. We were able to have the bus the whole day last year, but we won't be catching it until 5pm tomorrow. The bus totally made the experience perfect last year, we didn't have to worry about getting quickly to the next bar, finding a parking place, and waiting for everyone to trickle in. With the bus, we could all be together and than make our grand entrance.

I probably won't post on the pub crawl until later on in the week, I suspect it will take me a few days to recover!

Pipe on!


Happy St. Patrick's Day! (If You're Celebrating Today)

Well Happy St. Patrick's Day! If you're celebrating today that is. Many pubs are celebrating all weekend long and into Monday, and there were plenty of parades today as well.

If you're looking for information on the history of St. Patrick's Day, you can't go wrong with The History Channel's website. We all know that St. Patrick's Day celebrates the life of St. Patrick, actually, it really celebrates his death, which was supposedly on March 17, 460 A.D. For an entertaining version of what we do know about St. Patrick's life, check out this Veggie Tales version of events:

I'm not really celebrating today...I know, I'm such a die hard purist! Monday from about 2pm-9:30pm I'll take part in my bagpipe band's annual pub crawl. And I'm sure we won't be the only one's celebrating St. Patrick's Day on the 17th.

Pipe on!

St. Patrick's Day Preparations

St. Patrick's Day is Monday, March 17, but due to conflicts with Holy Week, many of you might be attending St. Patrick's Day festivities on Saturday, March 15. That's the day that the Catholic Church designated as St. Patrick's Day this year.

From the advertisements I've heard on the radio in my own town, it sounds like local businesses are taking advantage of the confusion and celebrating St. Patrick's Day Saturday through Monday. I might take in some of the events on Saturday, but for me at least, the big show is Monday.

But for those of you that will do most of your celebrating on Saturday, I thought a St.Patrick's Day preparation post was in order.

Blogging is a very good way to work off my own nervous energy for my band's pub crawl on Monday, so expect the posts to come with a fury this weekend. And really, a true celebration of the day can't be done in just one post.

So, what to do? Where to go? Go and take part in the festivities at your local pub, many are offering live music and free stuff! But you need to find a St. Patrick's Day celebrating pub first. I was easily able to find information in my own local and regional newspapers. Many places are celebrating all weekend, but it also seems like many are reserving special features like serving a special Irish menu, for Monday. There's probably a pub with an Irish connection in your community, after all, everyone is Irish on St. Patrick's Day!

If it's a parade you're after, there are plenty of those as well. In fact, if you're in Hot Springs, Arkansas you can attend the "First Ever Fifth Annual World's Shortest St. Patrick's Day Parade" which is some kind of strange oxymoron, but it really is the shortest parade. Apparently in the 1940's Ripley's Believe it or Not named Hot Springs' Bridge Street the shortest street in the world. And apparently the largest parade is held in New York City. NYC's parade is Monday and it's going to be streamed live, so even if you can't attend a parade you can watch the biggest!

Here's an amusing video of last year's NYC parade, done in a record 3 minutes, you have to see it to believe it!

But maybe you want to stay at home and host your own St. Patrick's Day Party. Not a bad idea after all; the police typically step up enforcement around St. Patrick's Day so celebrating in your own home is not a bad idea. Here are some good recipe ideas:

But really, you can probably make about anything, throw in some green dye, and you're good to go! In terms of setting up the tunes, there are a lot of great classical tunes including:
"Wearing of the Green"

"Minstrel Boy"
"Irish Washerwoman"
"Danny Boy" aka. "Londonderry Air"
"When Irish Eyes are Smiling"

Some good groups that you might check out are: The Chieftans, The Dubliners, The Clancy Brothers, and Gaelic Storm are all good ones. The Irish Rovers are also a good group, they sing a great song called The Unicorn Song:

I personally LOVE The Proclaimers and even though they're Scottish you can't go wrong with Irish Girls are Pretty, 500 Miles and Sunshine on Leith. I also recently found out that John Mayer sings a song called St. Patrick's Day:

I'm sure I'm leaving out plenty of good groups and tunes here, any other recommendations?

What are people out there doing for St. Patrick's Day??

Pipe on!!


Oh Danny Boy also known as Londonderry Air

One of the most associated songs with St. Patrick's Day is Danny Boy.

Many people love this song, but to some people this song is depressing and overdone. In fact, there's a pub in New York City that is holding a pre-St. Patrick's Day karaoke night, and the bartender is paying its patrons in Guinness NOT to sing Danny Boy.

Danny Boy is also known by another title, Londonderry Air. The fact that it's known by 2 different names speaks to the interesting history of this tune. Its history is also very complicated. If you are intensely interested in learning more about the history of the tune than Michael Robinson's Danny By-the Mystery Solved! looks to be a good site, as does Jim Hunter's The Origin of Danny Boy.

Based on what I read on Michael Robinson's site, Danny Boy refers to the lyrics. The lyrics were written by an English lawyer named Frederic Edward Weatherly in 1910. He wrote the lyrics that we know today, but they were set to a different melody. He called it Danny Boy, but the lyrics weren't successful with this melody. He never set foot in Ireland, nor did he probably have any interest in Irish tunes. So it took a letter from America to give him a melody for his lyrics.

In 1912 his sister-in-law sent him a melody called Londonderry Air. His lyrics matched with this new song, and, voila, Danny Boy was born.

Jim Hunter spends more time on his site talking about where the tune itself came from. According to his site, the melody shows up in 1851 when Jane Ross bought it from a blind fiddler named Jimmy McCurry who was playing at the docks of in the County of Londonderry, Ireland.

According to Wikipedia, the song was first recorded in 1913 by Ernestine Schumann-Heink, a German opera singer. But it seems that we can thank English opera singer Elsie Griffin for making it so popular. Weatherly gave it to her sometime after 1913 and she went onto perform for the troops in France during World War I. Although I didn't read this anywhere, I think it's safe to assume that in the midst of World War I, soldiers far from home, would take to such a moving tune:

Oh Danny boy, the pipes, the pipes are calling
From glen to glen, and down the mountain side
The summer's gone, and all the flowers are dying
'Tis you, 'tis you must go and I must bide.
But come ye back when summer's in the meadow
Or when the valley's hushed and white with snow
'Tis I'll be here in sunshine or in shadow
Oh Danny boy, oh Danny boy, I love you so.

And if you come, when all the flowers are dying
And I am dead, as dead I well may be
You'll come and find the place where I am lying
And kneel and say an "Ave" there for me.

And I shall hear, tho' soft you tread above me
And all my dreams will warm and sweeter be
If you'll not fail to tell me that you love me
I'll simply sleep in peace until you come to me.

I'll simply sleep in peace until you come to me.

Some sites claim Danny Boy is thought of as an anthem for Ireland, that it was supposed to be a song that brought everyone together during a very tumultuous time in Ireland's history. But than other site's say the song is rarely played in Ireland, and that they aren't as obsessed with the tune as Americans seem to be. Anyone out there care to comment on that??

Wikipedia has a very comprehensive listing of all the people who have recorded it, as well as its use in movies and television. Like I said initially, a lot of people love this song, including me, so there are tons of recordings of it on youtube. I tried to pick out what I thought were the best ones:

We'll start with something light, the Muppet version:

Next is Michael Eskin playing it on the Uilleann Pipes, the toughest small pipes to learn I've heard:

Here's a beautiful duet by Cliff Richard and Helmut Lotti. Richard is an English musician and Lotti hails from Belgium.

Country Western singer Ray Price sings it here:

The punk rock group Darkbuster puts their unique spin on it here:

Finally, a young British singing sensation by the name of Declan Galbraith gives a beautiful rendition:

I know there are lots and lots of other singers who have covered this song, Elvis Presley and Bing Crosby to name a few. I don't really have a favorite version, but please leave a comment if you do.

As for myself, I have run through this tune a few times on my practice chanter but I've never taken the time to memorize and learn it on my pipes. This is probably due to the fact that my band is a primarily Scottish based, and once a year, in the weeks leading up to St. Patrick's Day a few of the pipers who know this tune start practicing it. I will probably learn it sometime as I'm sure it's one of the requested tunes that pipers get. In the meantime, I'll just enjoy getting a breather and listening to it on St. Patrick's Day.

Pipe on!


Wii Girl

This blog is focused on bagpipes and Scotland, but from time to time I thought it might be interesting for loyal readers of my blog (at least give me the illusion that are some of you out there!), to learn a bit more about Piping Girl. Being a bagpiper is kind of like leading a double life. It’s not a hobby that people traditionally associate women with, and it’s definitely a niche hobby, there really aren’t a lot of pipers out there. Readers of this blog see the one side of my life that is pretty unknown in my day to day life, so I thought maybe you'd enjoy looking in a little bit on the other side of my life.

So, when my fingers aren’t flying over my bagpipe chanter, I really enjoy playing the Nintendo Wii. It’s actually not my Wii, it’s my husbands', but I play it a lot more than he does, so I think it’s really mine, but don’t tell him that! As you know if you’ve tried to get a Wii, they are still SUPER tough to find. We’ve had our Wii for over a year, and they are still hard to find. You can sign up for different alerts from companies that sell them online, stake out your local Target, or find an inside person who can tip you off when a new shipment comes in. But even all of this really comes down to plain old simple luck.

I ran across an opportunity where you could potentially win a Wii, and I thought I’d pass it along to the rest of you. It’s being offered by Charter High-Speed Internet. They are offering this opportunity to you if you pre-register for their High-Speed Internet for Life Auction.

This opportunity is offered to legal residents of the 29 states in which Charter Communications provides Internet services, and you have to be at least 18 years old when you enter. So you do have to qualify for the offer by living in an area where Charter services are offered.

Once you do qualify, you can pre-register for the auction now, never place a bid, and still be entered into the contest for the Wii. So you don’t even have to bid if you don’t want to and you’ll still be entered into the contest.

But, since you’re there, you might as well read up on the auction itself because that too sounds like a fantastic opportunity. Internet for life! How awesome would that be! While you can pre-register now, you can’t bid until the auction starts which is on March 12, 2008. Bidding starts at $10.00 and the auction ends on March 26.

Like I said, it does come down to luck, and with St. Patrick’s Day coming up, maybe a bit of extra luck will shine down on you! So, Click Here for a Chance to Win a Nintendo® Wii™!

No worries gentle readers, this blog won't become Wii Girl, but once in a while I figured it might be good to let you into the other side of Piping Girl's life.

Pipe on, or maybe I should say Wii on!

Bagpipes are Big!

Bagpipes are a big instrument, certainly not the biggest instrument out there...when I was trying to figure out what the biggest instruments in the world are I stumbled across The Oddmusic Gallery. A fluba, the serpent, a Harpsichord made out of LEGO's, this site has it all and than some.

But back to my point, the bagpipes are big and awkward to carry around. I have to be really careful when moving with my pipes from room to room because even though I am a mere 5 foot 4 inches, I can still knock my drones against the top of the doorway if I'm not careful. On that same note (no pun intended), the bagpipes are also a sturdy instrument, they're meant to be played outside so it has to stand up to the elements. So even when I do occasionally hit it against a doorway I don't worry too much. I do however live in fear of rooms with ceiling fans, I fear a fan vs. bagpipe battle would not end well for the pipes.

When carrying my bagpipes I have to break down the bass drone and carefully fit them into my styling yellow Menards tool box that I have fashioned into a bagpipe case.

I bought this case right after I bought my bagpipes. Like any quality musical instrument, bagpipes are expensive and at the time I didn't care to foot the bill for an expensive case as well. This case has worked really well up until this point but since it looks like I'm going to be playing this instrument for the long haul, I think it's time to invest in a long term case. Besides, I've seen my husband eyeing my big yellow tool-box, I promised he could have it if I ever upgraded. And I think I've had my fill of tool-box related jokes.

So I've been doing a lot of research. I want a sturdy case that has lots of pockets for storing all the little things a piper finds themselves accumulating, extra reeds, corks for my drones, ear plugs, and the like. I also really want a case that can accommodate my hard cover binder filled with my piping music. If I arrange everything just so, I can fit my binder into my yellow toolbox, but it'd be nice to have a special music binder pocket. Finally, I want to have flexibility in how I carry it.

So, after much research, including a discussion thread over on the Bob Dunsire Forum, I've narrowed it down to 3 options.

The first is the Bag Piper Case:

This one has 10 carrying points, it's airport friendly, and it has a lot of storage pockets. A couple of people in my band have this case so I have actually seen it, and they have nothing but goods things to say about this case.

Next up is the Piper Bagpipe Case:

It's similar to the first one, it's cheaper but shipping would cost more.

Finally there's the Bandpack Case:

I am impressed by how compact this case looks. It's designed for people that have to carry their pipes with them on the subway or bus, or I suppose on great rambling hikes into the woods. This case's sleekness intrigues me, I guess I like to think of myself eventually hiking off into the hills with my pipes...but for my immediate purposes it's probably not as practical. Plus, it seems like it wouldn't protect my pipes quite as well as the other cases. that I've narrowed it down to these 3, what do you think? I am leaning towards one of these cases, but I'd be curious to see what everyone out there thinks.

I've set up a poll for you to vote for your pick in the upper left corner of my blog.

And don't worry, I'll be sure to let you know what I end up with.

Pipe on!


Carnival of Bagpiping Blogs

I'm always looking for ways to get more people to check out my blog. I read about one such opportunity called a blog carnivals and decided to submit a few of my posts to some of them. If you've never heard of blog carnivals they are like reading a magazine. Each blog carnival has a theme, they promote it, other bloggers submit a post that fits within the theme, and than they publish it.

I submitted my post entitled Bagpipes Rock in the New Millennium to the Carnival of Rock and Roll. It's a monthly carnival put on by The Soul of Rock 'n' Roll and they accepted it. A nice way to spread a bit of Piping Girl across teh blogosphere.

I thought I would host my own version of a blog carnival by posting about some bagpiping blogs I've found. I've posted about bagpiping blogsbefore, but since than I've found a few more pipers out there in blogland.

First up is Jori Chisholm’s Bagpipe Lessons Blog. Jori is a professional and award winning piper. If you have an interest in learning how to play the bagpipes but can't find a teacher he offers a lot of different long distance options. This blog really compliments his Bagpipe Lessons site. It has loads of videos of Jori in concert and all sorts of great resources for pipers of all skill levels.

Next up is Keydet Piper. Keydet Pipier is a competitive piper who has been playing a lot longer than me, since 1998 to be exact. It's a newer blog but he posts regularly, you should read it just to find out what Keydet Piper is (it's in one of his earlier posts).

An even newer blog is Skirts and Skirls, put out by, yes, another piping girl! Twenty-one year old Kayla to be exact. Like I said, it's a new blog, but it has a lot of promise.

So there you have it, a piping carnival, thanks for coming along for the ride, and, as always, Pipe On!!

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