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Why Learning to Tune Your Bagpipes Has Been Such a Struggle

You know what's weird about bagpipe workshops? 

You can go to a workshop, have a wonderful time, "learn a TON" ... but...

Ever notice how, when you get home, it's virtually impossible to replicate what you've learned on your own? It's bizarre!

Tuning your bagpipes is probably the most quintessential example. So many pipers just can't tune themselves. It's the most basic element of playing any instrument, but many bagpipers just can't do it (yet), no matter how hard they try. 

For me as a teacher, it's painful to watch. And sad. Here are great folks, working as hard as they possibly can to tame the most noble of instruments, but one of the most basic elements just isn't happening for them. Spouses, family, and other pipers don't respect the time and the passion they put into the instrument because... can we be honest? 

...

They just don't sound good when they play. 

Going back to the "weird" factor: We go to bagpipe workshops because we have a glaring tuning weakness. We learn a lot about tuning (and tons of other topics). But, look closely: We don't actually learn that much about doing the process of tuning. We touch it, talk about it, do it once or twice, then it's on to another big topic. We never quite get our footing underneath us before we move on.

If I'm being honest, standard lessons with experts don't usually work to learn to tune either - one hour is not long enough to get into all the details. Even if you have lessons every week, that one-hour lesson (followed by a loooong gap where you're on your own) doesn't build nearly enough momentum to learn tuning skills well.

Occasional, surface-layer lessons (whether an actual "bagpipe lesson" or at a bagpipe workshop) don't work when it comes to bagpipe tuning. It's too complex a task. It requires immense focus and repetition up front. 

Not being able to play in tune and feel that rich, powerful, transcendent feeling that it gives you makes getting the pipes out of the box a chore instead of a reward. It makes you feel frustration. Go long enough without that passion or desire to play, and you're going to quit. Or even worse - you're going to keep playing but resenting the experience. 

Enter the Dojo U Tuning Clinic!

Based on this huge challenge pipers face, I decided to put on a weekend workshop entirely focused on bagpipe tuning. No expression, no crossing noise exercises, no Piobaireachd lectures --- JUST tuning. 

When you learn to tune:

  • Bagpiping becomes fun again.
  • You desperately want to play your bagpipes LONGER instead of not at all.
  • Your family and friends are (actually) proud of you.
  • (Maybe... someday...) the world as a whole stops seeing the bagpipes as a joke.

The Tuning Clinic is the only bagpipe workshop that ELIMINATES bad tuning by focusing on ONLY TUNING throughout an entire weekend.

I PROMISE you will be able to tune your pipes well by the end of our Tuning Clinic. How confident am I in that promise? Can I deliver? More on that later...

Tuning Clinic Instructors

Andrew Douglas

Andrew Douglas

2017 World Champion with Inveraray and District 2017 US Silver Medal Winner Pipe Major of Oran Mor Pipe Band (14th in the World, 2011) Founder and Creator of Dojo University 

Carl Donley

Carl Donley 

Carl is a co-founder of the Dojo and student favorite! Professional Piper in the EUSPBA. Oran Mor Pipe Band 2008-2013 

P/M Andy Fusco 

Pipe Major, Las Vegas Pipe Band Co-host, Chanter Rant Podcast (very educational...) 

Experience what being in tune FEELS like:

At the tuning clinic, you'll have one-on-one help from world-renown tuning experts, so you can get help with those holes in your tuning technique, and then actually feel what being in tune is like.

Many of us have never been in tune before. Feeling the sensation of playing your own well-tuned bagpipes is going to be a major break-through for you.

Be able to tune yourself on your own - again, and again.

By taking a deep look into our 13 Steps of Great Bagpipe Sound, you'll start to see that there's a process to producing great bagpipe sound, and that you can learn to control that process. 

From bagpipe maintenance, through tonal quality, and then into the 6 key steps to great bagpipe tuning, you'll learn to get your self in tune - but more importantly, you'll start to feel excited about piping, and you'll have breakthroughs that will carry through to every practice session you have from here on out.

Get Your Specific Tuning Needs Addressed:

Tuning is an intricate process, and your tuning issues might be different than the challenges others have.

At the tuning clinic, we work heavily in very small online break-out sessions, so that you can get your specific needs addressed. Using this structure, you'll actually reach that incredible freeing feeling of tuning your pipes on your own by the end of the weekend.

One of the amazing features of an online clinic (that we can't do in person) is to work with each individual, 1-on-1. Don't miss out on the chance to get private instruction mixed with the rest of your 360-degree learning experience.

Enjoy an Amazing Workshop, without endless hassle.

In the past, we hosted the tuning clinic in person in Troy, New York. It was a great time, but it was also a major hassle! Hotel rooms, travel time, gas money, time away from family, time off work - what a mess!

The new tuning clinic, while certainly a different vibe, offers amazing instruction, a great social atmosphere, and perhaps best of all - it all happens from the comfort of your own home.

Heck, you don't even have to wear pants! (Just kidding, you definitely DO still have to wear pants).

What Our Students Say

"I attended the Dojo Tuning Clinic in May, 2018, along with quite a few other members of Dojo University. The Clinic was exceptionally organized, efficiently carried out, and went well beyond my expectations I had for improving my ability to tune my own bagpipes. "

John H. Holcombe, MD - Indiana

"The tuning clinic really gave me such a confidence boost in having control over my instrument and understanding how to tune the drones. It was always a bit of a mystery, but the concrete, factual methods taught at the clinic cleared away the confusion and made accurate self tuning a reality."

Beth Paul - Vermont

"I'm a 40 year player that could not tune my pipe if my life depended on it. The tuning clinic eradicated that condition. Judges now write "well tuned pipe, drones to chanter". The tuning fundamentals build on each other so great tuning can be achieved. The blow trick is the best thing since sliced bread. Well done Dojo U."

Ken Allan - Ontario

"I always stressed when tuning myself, never trusting my own hearing and like many of us I relied on other people to assist me or used a tuner. Not happy with either alternative, I signed on for the Tuning Clinic. The techniques learned over that weekend were an epiphany. Basically, the Dojo teaches that tuning is a Journey not a destination and gave me a roadmap so I can now confidently tune myself and continue on my piping Journey."

Patrick McBride - New York

Hurry! Sign Up Before Midnight to Receive Three Free Online Courses.

If you sign up before midnight tonight, we'll send you access to THREE essential bagpipe sound courses that you can study leading up to the clinic. These are the exact same concepts we'll cover in depth at the workshop, so if you can master the ideas and concepts beforehand (and give things a try on your own), the workshop can truly be a hands-on, breakthrough experience for you where you can truly make huge gains, instead of trying to tackle all of the concepts from scratch.

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FREE with Registration:

4 Simple Steps to an Easy Bagpipe Online Success Plan Course 

Master the "4 Questions" that ensure your bagpipes are easy to play every time you pick them up out of the case!

$47 Value - FREE with registration today.

FREE with Registration:

Master the Steady Blowing "Trifecta" Online Success Plan Course 

There's more to it than just "blowing steady." Master the three concepts of great bagpipe tone in this course.

$47 Value - FREE with registration today.

FREE with Registration:

6 Steps of the Bagpipe Tuning Cycle Online Success Plan Course 

There are 6 repeating steps you need to master to be a great bagpipe tuner. Learn each step in depth in this course.

$47 Value - FREE with registration today.

REGISTER NOW TO GET THESE FREE BONUSES!

Our Promise To You...

We promise that you'll be able to tune your pipes well by the end of this weekend workshop. It's as simple as that. 

Tuning is the main ingredient to FEELING GOOD about playing the bagpipes. It's what gives you confidence, what makes others respect and admire you, what allows you to use the bagpipes to transcend the toils of every day life. 

If our usual methods don't work for you (for some reason...) we'll turn over every stone we can think of to help you learn to tune. 

And of course - if you're not 100% thrilled with your results from the clinic, we'll give you your money back in full (and you can keep all three free bonus courses "on us.")

Flash Sale Ends Monday at Midnight! Save $100

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TUNING CLINIC REGISTRATION

Price: $399

The Dojo University Tuning Clinic - Sept 26-27, Hosted Virtually

  • 2 Full Days of JUST TUNING
  • Lectures, Small Group Sessions, and One-on-One Time
  • 13 Step Repeatable Process for Great Tuning
  • Amazing Convenience, zero hassle!.
  • BONUSES! 4 Steps to an Easy Bagpipe Course, Steady Blowing Trifecta Course, and Tuning Cycle Course (A $141 value) completely free!

Clinic Details

  • Level: Beginners on full pipes, through to Advanced levels (you should be able to play a few tunes on the pipes before considering this clinic).
  • Setting: Online/Virtual
  • Course Time Commitment: 8 hours on Saturday, 8 hours on Sunday!

TUNING CLINIC REGISTRATION

Price: $399 $299 Until 7/13

The Dojo University Tuning Clinic - Sept 26-27, Hosted Virtually

  • 2 Full Days of JUST TUNING
  • Lectures, Small Group Sessions, and One-on-One Time
  • 13 Step Repeatable Process for Great Tuning
  • Amazing Convenience, zero hassle!.
  • BONUSES! 4 Steps to an Easy Bagpipe Course, Steady Blowing Trifecta Course, and Tuning Cycle Course (A $141 value) completely free!

Clinic Details

  • Level: Beginners on full pipes, through to Advanced levels (you should be able to play a few tunes on the pipes before considering this clinic).
  • Setting: Online/Virtual
  • Course Time Commitment: 8 hours on Saturday, 8 hours on Sunday!

Frequently Asked Questions

Regarding the Schedule

This is the first time we've gone virtual with this event. For now, here is a tentative schedule for the online Clinic:

Saturday, Sept 26th:

  • 0830-0915 (Eastern Time): Welcome and Introduction to Bagpipe Tuning with Andrew Douglas
  • 0915-1000: The Four Questions of Bagpipe Maintenance with Carl Donley
  • 1015-1115: Small Focus Groups - Workshopping the Four Questions
  • 1115-1145: Blowing Steady - Part 1 with Andrew Douglas 
  • 1145-1345: 1-on-1 Sessions: Workshopping Great Physical Blowing Mechanics and Posture
  • 1400-1430: Blowing Steady - Part 2 with Carl Donley
  • 1430-1630: 1-on-1 Sessions: Workshopping Mental Blowing Anomalies
  • 1630-1900: Dinner Break
  • 1900-1930: The 6 Steps of the Bagpipe Tuning Cycle, and the Graduated Tuning Effect with Andrew Douglas
  • 1930-2030: Small Focus Groups - Workshopping the Graduated Tuning Effect

Sunday, Sept 27th:

  • 0830-0915 (Eastern Time): The Blow Trick, with Carl Donley
  • 0915-1115: 1-on-1 sessions - developing the blow trick
  • 1115-1215: The Blow Trick Part II - the Pitch-Time Continuum - with Andrew Douglas (whole group, with interactive exercises)
  • 1230-1315: Tuning 2 Drones Together with Carl Donley
  • 1315-1515: 1-on-1 sessions - Tuning 2 Drones together
  • 1515-1600: Bringing It All Together with Andrew Douglas
  • 1600-1700: Small Focus Groups - Bringing It All together
  • 1730-1800: Tuning Clinic Wrap Up!

Note, the red regions may be moved to Thursday and/or Friday evenings before the clinic. Recordings can be provided to those who can’t make those times. This would allow for Saturday to not be quite as long.

Regarding Logistics:

How Soon Should I Sign Up?  

You can sign up any time before the clinic, IF there’s enough space left. We aren’t setting a definite cut-off number, but space is definitely limited, so it might be best to sign up quickly!  

What Are My Payment Options?  

Depending on how long it is until the event, we offer some payment plans to more gradually pay the cost of the clinic. When you click the ‘register’ button on the home page, you can view the order form to see what’s available.  

What If I Need to Cancel?  

That would be SO sad. But we know sometimes life happens and gets in the way of the best laid plans.  

We can fully refund your purchase up to 7 days before the clinic. At that point, your purchase will be "locked in."

Once we get to “one week out,” we can no longer accept refund requests – so, if you have to, let us know before then!  

How much time will I spend at Clinic Activities?  

We are going to have a healthy balance of INTENSE clinic sessions and more laid back moments. But, it's important to understand that your full weekend should be devoted to this workshop. There will definitely be ample time for you to get up and stretch your legs, but don't book too many other things on these dates. These dates are for tuning!

What else do I need to know?  

There are a few odds-and-ends logistical details we will provide to you between your registration and the Clinic itself. Don’t stress about it – oh, and, of course, if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact us any time!

Regarding the Clinic:

What makes DOJO UNIVERSITY TUNING CLINIC something I should want to do?  

Look, let’s face it – there are a lot of bagpipe workshops out there. Why pick this one?  

Well, the answer is you should only pick this one if you struggle with (or want to learn) tuning specifically, and if you want to do something that gets you real results in an intensive, 2-day experience.  

Tuning bagpipes is a process. There’s a lot that goes into it, and, at the end of the day, you do have to develop an ear for it. Most bagpipe schools and workshops offer a smorgasbord of piping topics, touching on everything but not drilling down into anything – this workshop is different. We’re going to take this one thing – tuning – and we’re going to drill down into it until there’s nothing left to drill. We’re going to tune until we can’t stand it anymore — and then we’re gonna tune some more.  

If you’re not a dramatically better tuner at the end of this clinic, we’ll be happy to fully refund your registration fee. We mean it.  

So, it’s that simple – come to our clinic if you want to really, honestly, learn to tune your pipes well.  

What Topics Will Be Covered? (Like, you know, specifics!)  

Ok, you want the specifics? Here we go:  

As I mentioned before, bagpipe tuning is a process that we need to master. To make a 3-day clinic into a quick answer (see what I did there?), there are 13 steps that we need to master (and masterfully assemble) if we want the tuning of our pipes to “lock in” and stay “locked in.” Here are the steps in short form:  

  • Is my bag airtight?
  • Are my joints airtight?
  • Are my reed seats airtight?
  • Are my drone reeds calibrated?
  • Find the sweet-spot of the chanter reed.
  • Develop strong physical blowing mechanics
  • Eliminate “mental blowing” anomalies.
  • Let the pipes acclimatize.
  • Balance the chanter by “seating” the chanter reed properly.
  • Tune 1 drone to the chanter.
  • Tune the other two drones to the first drone.
  • Repeat steps 10 and 11 frequently as the chanter changes in pitch over time.
  • Fine-tune chanter notes once chanter pitch has stabilized.

We did a really cool short YouTube video on the 13 steps that you can watch here.  

So, looking at the steps above – tuning accounts for steps 9 through 13. At our clinic, we’re going to spend the first two sessions reviewing steps 1 through 8, and then we will be diving DEEP into chanter balancing, drone tuning, studying how the chanter changes pitch over time, and much, much more.  

And the thing here is: We’re going to be actually doing these steps, repeatedly, with guidance during the clinic. You’re going to get this. And you’re going to be a drastically happier bagpiper by the time this is over.  

Sign up today while there are still spots left!