For the pipers, here's a couple of brief notes to guide your practice for next week:
1. '76 Police Tattoo
Played the tune in the range of 78 - 80 bpm. Can't emphasize enough how important it is to practice with a metronome and get everything on the beat. Play at a slower tempo if you need to. Pay attention to groups where we have a dot/cut group leading into a C Doubling, as in part 1, bar 3 going into bar 4 where we have a dotted E, a cut D and Bar 4 started with the C doubling. Hold the dotted note as long as you possibly can and then focus on landing the C doubling precisely on the next beat (the G gracenote of the doubling, to be precise). Also remember not to crunch the C doublings. Keep them open with two distinct graceneotes. There are a number of spots in the tune where this rhythmic pattern occurs (Dot/Cut group followed by a doubling on the next beat). Make sure you're playing each one accurately.
2. Morrison's Jig
Played this at 90 bpm. Again, while speed is not the first priority, you should be trying to get into this tempo range by now. We focused on keeping the run of three note groups in part 1 bars 7 and 8 (B,C,D High G,F,E D,B,low G) controlled. This means you should be able to produce a consistent 1,2,3 rhythm in each group and get the first note of each 3 note group on the beat.
We also worked on holding the low A quarter note (as in part 2, bar 3) for its full time. Don't cut up to the High A early. This is a passage where singing or humming the along with a metronome may be just as effective as practicing on the chanter. Just have to get the timing into your head.
Lastly, we were rushing the first G,D,E on low A in Part 1 bar 1 of the tune. We have to be able to establish the tempo and rhythm of the tune immediately, which is kind of a "hit the ground running" challenge.
3. Hag at the Churn
Generally, we have to work on keeping every single 3 note group very evenly expressed, meaning that each note in a 3 note group has the same duration. We tend to shorten the second note in certain groups. In the second part, two important groups to watch out for are: E, High A, F (as in part 2, bar 1) and E, High A, High A (as in part 2, bar 2). In both cases, be sure to clearly articulate the middle note. It's almost like trying to speak especially clearly to someone, where you over-annunciate your words. We're trying to clearly annunciate the notes in these groups.
We played Tibby at 46 BPM (but we counted in triple time). To be clear on the setting, everything is still grips, as written. Forget about the experimentation with birls. Remember we're starting all grips on the beat (first low G of the grip movement coincides with the beat). Don't play the grips early.
The biggest thing to focus on here is the timing of the line endings and, in particular, the the transition notes that carry us into the following line. Again, this is a bit that can be practiced by singing with the metronome to get the timing down. And then go back and try to play with your chanter what you've sung.
One observation Robbie shared with me regarding practice the other night was that he thought we had a good strong group, but that it would be important to make sure everyone was following through with the practice at home, because that's what really makes the difference. This is true of the 78th Frasers and it's true for us. We have to be putting in the practice time at home. Don't rush it. We're in good shape (medley almost learned by February!?) But everyone needs to put the work in. Remember, practice smart: don't just play the whole tune over and over. Use the weak bits we identify at practice as a guide and isolate weak passages to focus on. A good practice session might only address a bar of music, but if you make progress, that's better than playing through everything and achieving nothing.
As always, email me if you have any questions!