And to top it all off? I've never (I mean never) seen rhythm taught comprehensively, in a system that's both easy to follow and easy to practice.
For several months, as I developed this rhythm course specifically for bagpipers, I asked many of our students: What sort of struggles do you have with rhythm?
From their responses, I compiled a list of common issues. Do any of these apply to your piping?
- "I want to be able to figure out a tune without having to hear it first, but the rhythm always majorly throws me off."
- "I want to learn to play up to tempo with the band. So far, I can't keep up."
- "I'm always told that I'm rushing but I don't know how to fix it."
- "I feel like if I can just get the basics of strathspeys, jigs, etc., I'll be able to finally get my feet under me as a bagpiper."
- "I have trouble tapping my foot and/or marching while playing."
- "I should be able to tap out the rhythm of a tune before I play it, but I never really can."
- "I can play the notes as written, but I'm still missing how it's "supposed to be played."
- "My rhythm is too mechanical and I don't know how to fix it."
The truth is, there are only three elements that make up the rhythmic structure of all beat-based music (especially all beat-based bagpipe tunes). If we can understand and control these three elements, which isn't really that hard, then we're all set to go!
And I'll give you a hint - the scary rhythmical words we hear all the time (like "time signatures," "compound rhythms", "16th notes," "syncopation," etc, etc, etc...) don't really rank very high on the priority list.
Are they important? Eventually, sure! But, we'll be able to "tick them all off" the checklist as we explore the basic three dimensions of rhythm together in this course.
Rhythm For Bagpipers should be the first step for any developing piper.
From there, the sky is the limit!