2020 Pipers Weekend Classes

Classes in red are most suitable for mixed-instruments. Other instruments may be welcome in other classes with permission of the instructor.

Hands-on Class – Friday 3-5 PM  (extra $25 fee)

  • Smallpipe Maintenance Clinics for Uillean and Scottish pipes with Robert Felsburg and Brian Bigley.

Class 1 – Saturday 10-12 AM

  • Uilleann Pipe Fundamentals (Brian Bigley)
    Working to form the cornerstones of good piping, including ornamentation, rhythm, with basic and intermediate repertoire.

  • Irish Flute Technique (John Skelton)
    We'll address some concepts of tone production, ergonomics, breathing, articulation, and learning by ear.

  • Playing Northumbrian Pipes in Small Groups(Dick)
    Integrating tunes, technique and musicianship.

  • Practice Techniques for the Brave (Rosalind Buda)                                 We will take a couple tunes that are hard to learn, discuss what makes them challenging, and learn how to conquer technical issues in a musical way so you don't become stuck or discouraged in your practice. Practice techniques from a more “classical” perspective will be discussed alongside folk-oriented techniques. Get some new playing exercises to up your game! Have no fear, this class will likely be a load of laughs and full of “ah ha!” moments for all.

  • Donald MacDonald Tunes from the 1700 & 1800s  (Iain MacHarg)  Delve into 200 hundred year tunes from the Donald MacDonald manuscript.  Donald MacDonald had a profound impact on the music of his time, and continues to play a significant role in the music of the highlands today.

  • Add Tunes and Stir: Scottish Fiddle and Pipes  (Tracy & Sean)       Cooking up Sets and Setlists for Pipes and Fiddle.   How to pair tunes together, craft transitions between them, and how to order sets in a performance.

  • French Bal Folk Tunes... Bourrées (Gerard Nichols) (G/D and C/G)  Bourrées 3 temps on the French pipes and other Instruments. Technique (picotage, etc.) and repertoire of this popular dance. For all levels but better if you can learn a tune by ear easily.  

  • Squeeze the Bag! (Bob)
    Bellows bagpipes for absolute beginners

Class 2 – Saturday 2-4 PM

  • Making your Drones Sing (Brian Bigley)                                              Using some slow airs and marches, learn techniques to make the most of your drones and key techniques for keeping them in perfect working order.

  • Exploring News ways to Interpret Old Tunes (John)
    Get inside a tune and explore different approaches, turning jigs into reels and playing with rhythm and ornamentation. Learn a few nice older or regional settings to familiar tunes.

  • Ornamentation on the Northumbrian Smallpipes (Dick)           Mastering the traditional Northumbrian smallpipes single grace note.

  • Smallpipe Repertoire for Newer Players (Tracy)                                     The next step up for newer players on the Scottish Smallpipe.  A little technique and some achievable tunes to get expand your repertoire.

  • Good Ol’ Highland Way (Iain MacHarg)                                      Highland gracenote technique distinguishes Scottish piping from Continental styles of playing.  Come and work on your piping technique using old Gaelic marches and airs. 

  • Tunes from the Western Isles for All Instruments (Sean Heely)          Explore beautiful tunes from Gàidhlig (Gaelic) Scotland. The music from the western isles has its own unique style and sound. We will study and learn a few selected tunes from two notable sources. 

  • Fundamentals of the French Bagpipes (Gerard Nichols)                      Basic fingerings, stability with the French pipes, by learning a tune (by ear) (G/C pipes), perfect for beginners and more experienced players as well.  Improve your piping technique.

  • Breton Bombarde Breakout! (Rosalind Buda)                                     Join Rosalind for a bombard and Breton session. SSP/Border piper players as well as those that can play in b minor are welcome to play alongside the bombard. We will talk about Breton style and get a taste of some of the basic tunes in Breton music. As a part of the class, the basic An Dro dance will be taught. Open to all. You may desire earplugs.

Class 3 – Sunday 10-12 Noon

  • Rhythm is King! Dancing with your Regulators (Brian Bigley)
    A few livelier tunes, slip jigs, hop jigs and reels to work on making the best use of your regulators. and enhancing the rhythmic musicality of your playing.

  • You know how to whistle, don't you?? (John)
    A variety of tunes and techniques to perk up your tin whistle playing.

  • Tunes from Playford Arranged for Northumbrian Pipes (Dick) (F, C, Bb) Open to other instruments, but beware of keys!

  • Practice Smarter, Not Harder (Bob):                              “Woodshedding” is the thoughtful and thorough use of time to
    make lasting improvements in technique and fluency. Learn to make more time to enjoy the music through constructive practice.

  • Awesome tunes fresh from Cape Breton (Iain MacHarg)                 Fresh back from visiting family in Dingwall and Cape North, Iain brings back amazing tunes from the wild lands of the northern tip of Cape Breton.  Come and learn new and old tunes from Cape Breton.

  • Practical and Fun Music Theory for Pipers (Rosalind Buda)             Using a couple of fun tunes, we are going to work on how to read music notation, rhythms, arpeggios, key signatures, describe musical structure, and how to talk to other musicians about the pipes. If you want to be able to talk to your bandmates more confidently about your music and instrument, this is the class for you! This class will be geared toward the Scottish smallpipes, but others are welcome. 

  • French Piping Ensemble (Gerard Nichols)  G/C & D/G
    For every level of players, this class will work on arrangements of tunes to give every musician a part.

Class 4 – Sunday 2-4 PM

  • Honing a Performance Piece (Brian Bigley)
    Using advanced repertoire pieces, working on refining ornamentation, and arranging for ensemble performance.

  • Piping for Dancing (Dick)                                                                       This class and topic is open to several kinds of pipes and features several kinds of dance.  Content will reflect the interests of the students attending.

  • A Reel Good Time (Bob):                                                                       The goal of this class will be to put together a short set of reels to spice up your repertoire. We will go over a half -dozen 2 part, traditional reels in A and D.

  • Peace, Love, and Bagpipes Harmony Class (Rosalind )                           A class of pure harmony enjoyment. Pieces in multi-part harmony for players of any instrument that can adapt to SSP tonality (A mixolydian). Take your group session playing beyond unison with this class of interesting arrangements of tunes from the Celtic isles and beyond.

  • Both Kinds of Music: Irish Music on Scottish Pipes ( Iain MacHarg)      At home, I was raised on both kinds of music, Scottish and Irish.  Come and explore the wonderful world of Irish music on the Scottish smallpipe.  We’ll talk about what tunes work well on our instrument, how to adapt others, and how to play smallpipes with Uilleann pipes.

  • Ornamentation on the French bagpipes (Gerard Nichols)                    Work on fingering, ornamentation, octave jumping and other techniques to make your playing more precise and reflective of the French traditions.

  • Greater Reaches of the Celtic Realm (John)
    Dance tunes and marches from Galicia and Brittany.



Smallpipes classes are open to mouth-blown reel pipes if they have the correct bore and are tuned in A.

Less skilled players are welcome to listen in all classes to master what they can and record the rest for future work.

* Repertoire Classes: Open to mixed instruments, students must have the ability to learn music by ear. Pieces will be chosen at several tempos, so there should be something accessible to most playing levels during the 2 hour class. Repertoire classes will be tailored to our registered students interests and in friendly keys for the style of pipes the teacher is focusing on. Please sign up early to help instructors to select suitable repertoire!

Lessons: Teachers are asked to allow time to teach up to 4 halfhour private lessons during the weekend (schedule has long breaks to accommodate some of these). These will be assigned on a first-come, first-served basis to students, who will pay their teacher directly ($35/half hour lesson) at the lesson. Sign up early to secure your spot. We will schedule the lessons, based upon each teacher’s comfort and responsibilities.

Mini Classes: Students are invited to share their knowledge with others in a mini class setting. These have been in a variety of areas including repertoire, hand skills (things like reed making), and non music related topics… (history, culture, etc). It’s a great way to get to know other students. These classes are offered during the two hour lunch break and after the afternoon classes on Saturday.

Rental Instruments: High quality Border and Scottish Smallpipes provided by Robert Felsberg will be available for the weekend for a $40/ weekend fee. Advance reservation is needed. Call for more information and to reserve a set.

Maintenance Clinic: Friday Afternoon Scottish Smallpipe Maintenance Class will be offered by Robert Felsburg. Get your pipes in great working order for the weekend. A $25 fee will be charged for the afternoon workshop. Time length will be determined by advance sign-up. This class may take place off campus to ease parking issues on campus.


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Upper Potomac Music Weekends

PO Box 1474, Shepherdstown, WV  25443

(304) 263-2531   upperpotomac@gmail.com

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