Piper and Guitarist

Five Ponds Music

 

877.418.6158

MGKerr@FivePondsMusic.com
 
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When you take lessons with me, you’ll not only learn how to play the chanter and the pipes, but you’ll also lay a solid foundation in musicianship itself, our true craft.

Our musicianship training will go beyond simply learning by ear.  We want to cultivate an inner sense of the music, to learn to be musical independent of our instruments.  So, we will listen – a lot.  We’ll examine tempos and rhythms.  We’ll study timing and phrasings, and we’ll look for patterns and forms that will help us develop musical memory.

These fundamentals ground our pipe music in the broader tradition.  They’ll also aid us when we draw from that tradition and bring over musical elements from other instruments, such as the fiddle, into our piping.

And, by including these basics as a regular part of our lessons, you'll have more fun, your interests will intensify, and you'll progress more quickly.

But – no surprise there!  This is how traditional musicians have been learning for generations.

I’ll do whatever I can to help you to learn, and I’ll supply you with lots of resource materials as we go along – like audio and video clips, exercise sheets, and tunes.

Please get in touch with me if you have any questions at all!

 

Michael's piping instruction is helping me develop technical skills and musical style.  This dual focus makes each lesson productive and fun.  I really like that my lessons aren't based solely on drills but give me the opportunity to hear the techniques being taught come alive in a tune.  Michael supports each class with reference videos to download, making solo practice between lessons even easier!

I love my piping lessons! :)

~~~ Jennifer L. Hughes, NY (2014)


In 1994, I signed on as piping instructor at The Minor Chord music store in Acton, MA (now in Littleton, under new ownership) – and was surprised one evening, while driving home, to hear this ad come over the car radio.

You can click on the thumbnail to listen to it.

Radio Ad

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Teaching Teagasg

Hi!  Thanks for stopping by my teaching page.  I’ve been teaching the pipes now for over two decades, and it’s something I really enjoy doing.  I work with beginning students through advanced, child or adult.

As a teacher, I am absolutely committed to helping my students develop an ability to play music – not just show them how to play an instrument.  If you would like to know more about me and my own musical background, I invite you to visit my Home page or download this pdf-formatted biography (Michael Kerr).

Since the bagpipe is played with a continuous stream of air through reeds, we have no rests and no dynamic control in pipe music; every bit of flavor and style that we put into our playing is accomplished through skillful use of our fingers.  This can sometimes cause a player to fixate on technique.
 

Hands on chanter (Michael Kerr)

  
But traditional music isn't just about nimble and exquisite execution.  It’s about proper expression, in the style.  It’s about rhythm and pulse; it’s deeply felt.  A person becomes proficient as a traditional player not through brilliant execution alone, but through soulful execution that’s supported as much as possible by very good technique.

That kind of meaningful expression comes through listening to and emulating good traditional players.  My students do in fact learn excellent technique and achieve a high standard of execution, but we apply ourselves even more diligently in using these things to bring life into our playing.  The music is always our priority. 

So, together we listen to fiddlers, pipers, and Gaelic singers, and we strive to emulate various aspects of their sounds while remaining faithful to our pipes and to piping.

Michael Kerr with girls

Of course we underpin all of this with disciplined practice, but we also have a lot of fun!

If you are one of my students, I take time to get to know you.  I tailor my teaching approach to suit the mode of learning that works best for you.  And I attempt to bring a quality of attention to your personal piping goals and musical interests.  My students grow to trust their musical instincts as they progress, and their playing becomes more confident – often infused with fresh ideas.
Studio space, Five Ponds Music (Michael Kerr)

I currently teach in person at my house in Massachusetts and online via Skype.  But, there is a new online source for lessons in traditional music and dance that I am excited to be a part of, started up by traditional-style fiddler Emerald Rae, called TradLife.com.  It is my privilege to be included in a list of world-class musicians who've joined them as teachers.  It's worth a look!

Thanks again.  My contact information is at the left.  Please feel free to call me or email me at any time!

Preas (Michael Kerr)

 

Be sure also to check out my Resources page!

I’ll be using that space to share some of the materials that I give to my students.  So, look for sheet music, audio clips, and a link to my YouTube channel – and other things that might be of particular use or of specific interest.

I expect that page to become fairly dynamic, with new stuff being added all the time (for instance, if a student and I arrange a fiddle tune for the pipes, then I’ll post it there – maybe with variants), so check back often!  And watch my Facebook page for updates.

 

Nae instrument, however sweet,
Can wi’ the Hieland Pipes compete;
For tho’ its notes are only nine,
Its warbling voice is so divine,
That when evoked with skill and art
It moves all feelings of the heart…
                                 
from “The Hieland Pipes” (19th century)

Tha ceòl anns na maidean, ma bheir thus’ as e.
There’s music in the sticks, if you can draw it out.
                                  Alan Bain of Kintail, pipe maker (20th century)

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