15th September 2014   |   Jamie Barrett   |   Reading Time: 2 minutes

At Evolution5 we are ‘all about the people’. We know we have a great team and have decided to run a periodic series introducing you to different members of the E5 team and giving you an insight to what it’s like to be part of the E5 team!

First up is Senior Project Manager, Frank Luard who has written this post about his early adventures in learning the bagpipes, click here to see him in action.

It’s safe to say, the E5 office is rarely dull!

Many best made plans are created at closing time in the local on a Friday night, as was mine to take up the bagpipes (it couldn’t be that tricky and approval from my wife and children guaranteed). My understanding of the complexity of this instrument of war was not clouded by the unrefined beer, it was steeped with educated ignorance as I incorrectly assumed it must be similar to playing the flute (learnt as a schoolboy) – a mechanism to chat up girls in band practice…unsuccessfully.

EBay sought a practice chanter and self-teaching began, on a similar quality to Ferris Bueller’s saxophone playing (he never had a lesson either) and I was hooked. After getting to grips with the nine notes, pretty simple, the absence of available silence means there is a requirement to introduce embellishments (gracenotes, doublings, throws, strikes, grips, tachums, birls, taorluaths) to break, enhance and/or emphasise the notes. This was now becoming far more difficult than anticipated.

Fully committed, I sold a much loved but rarely used piccolo to buy a second hand set of pipes. On receipt I drove into the depths of Hampshire and, finding a relatively isolated field, I filled my lungs, then the bag, the drones started to quiver and resonate. More pressure still and an agonisingly painful squeak ripped from the chanter… lessons became a necessity! Coincidently it was Burn’s night, and that evening I met a piper who put me in touch with my South African tutor Dan.

Dan is inspiring, patient and an extremely good piper and after a number of fortnightly lessons, remnants of Highland Cathedral and Flower of Scotland (Better Together guys) now ‘float’ through the open windows of our house, undoubtedly to my neighbours’ displeasure. My current Everest is to conquer Scotland the Brave, at the correct speed without a plethora of mistakes, but heeding Dan’s advice to SLOW DOWN, I imagine this could take some time and we may be at base camp for a while.