Ooh boy, writing this feels intimidating. It’s something to write down all your thoughts and feelings about something knowing it’s going to end up somewhere anyone could see it. But, if I had to write anything that everyone was going to read, writing about Pipe Band would be one of my first choices.
But before I take you down the rabbit hole of my weird, crazy obsession with what Michael Eagle calls Pipe Band Land, I should probably tell you a bit about myself. My name is Allison, and I’m twenty years old. It’s my first year playing Tenor Drum for the best band out there, Cameron & District Pipe Band. In addition to this, I also take bagpiping lessons from my PM, one of the world’s best pipers. That’s a lot to juggle at one time. But I love it a whole bunch.
When Eagle suggested to me that it was time to write my own blog, I’m not going to lie, I drug my feet at the thought of starting to write it. I mean, does anyone really want to read my internal ramblings on this? Maybe, maybe not? I also didn’t really know what I was supposed to write about. Yeah, I play tenor and take piping lessons, but I also attempted Drum Majoring for a while too. Those three things could create thousands of blogs. But I think I’ve decided, my blog series is going to begin with my Tenor journey, and maybe in a few months it’ll switch to being primarily about bagpiping. For now, it’ll be all about becoming a Monster Tenor Drummer!
For you total newbie Tenor Drummers, make sure you watch these awesome Rhythm Monster instructional videos! I found them really helpful when I was just starting out.
I watched this when I was first learning. David Henderson, Monster Instructor & Drum Sergeant of the Grade 1 Glasgow Police, has a great perspective on the midsection as a whole. It's a great video to watch if you're not sure where to begin. David Henderson has a LOT of good info in these videos, for multiple skill ranges.
I LOVE SFU Tenor Drummer & Monster Instructor, Owen Russell's perspective! I didn't watch this one when I was first learning, because his Monster Tenor Drumming classes series was just released, but it's another one I would recommend to beginners. Owen Russell's whole series is really good. And he plays for SFU, which is my FAVORITE Grade 1 band.
Rhythm Monster also has this awesome Music Theory Tutor that was designed specifically for Pipe Band Drummers. If you're totally new to music and can't read music yet, this is where you want to start. There's a ton of classes that explain everything you'd need to know about all those dots and cuts you'll see on your Tenor, Bass or Snare Scores. Since I was in Marching Band and Concert Band all through High School, I haven't watched all of these yet. Anytime I see something in a Tenor score I've never seen before, however, I also go to the Music Theory Tutor or even the Scottish Pipe Band Snare Drum Tutor and use the "Search" function to find stuff.
It always seems to impress people when I tell them I’ve only had mallets since the beginning of December. Especially since we won best Bass & Mid at my very FIRST games (yeah boiiiiiii!) But it was a long process. For me, the scores for our medley weren’t very hard to learn (thanks, Marching Band!). I’ve played music for a long time. But the other parts were hard. Learning the flourishes, how to hit the drum, how to WEAR the drum right, etc. (I found out a few weeks ago that I was wearing my harness too loose, and had been for months. I had no idea. No one told me.)
I’ve learned a lot, but there still is soooo much to learn. I can do most of the flourishes decently, except split-the-feather. I can rock my drum like it’s my favorite dress. I still struggle with finding the right striking balance sometimes. I know there are other beginning Tenor Drummers out there that are in the same place as me. Or maybe even some who want to learn and are a little lost. So I’ll write. I’ll talk about my learning process and the obstacles I encountered and how I overcame them. Maybe how I solved my problem can help one of you guys too, yeah?