My bagpipe instructor had a stroke last week. At 94, he drove himself to the hospital and collapsed. He has moved into a room at a nursing home facility and is doing amazingly well. His speech has greatly improved. With therapy, he may be able to move back into his apartment.
Tonight, our small group of pipers will have their first concert without him. The pipes became too difficult for him to play. Even before the stroke, he found he was getting too winded. I’m pretty sure it was just a leaky bag, but who am I to argue with a 94-year-old.
I am performing a solo. Solos allow other pipers to catch their breath. We all take turns between sets. After a short two years, I’m far from ready, but it seems only fair that I try. Mr. Lynch feels it is an important step toward improving– playing in front of others. When I practice, I’m always playing for others– like it or not! The tune I’ve chosen is called The March of the King of Laois. At our last practice, Mr. Lynch insisted that I sing the tune in order to improve my phrasing. He kept telling me to listen, his hands flying through the air as he phrased the tune for me. He was attempting to get me to hear something I couldn’t. I thought my phrasing was going well. I could feel the ebb and flow. I was disappointed that he couldn’t. When you see me with my headphones on today, you know what I’ll be listening to… over and over again.