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Mr. Huffman shares his love of the bagpipes with the students at Waxhaw.
On Tuesday, April 21st, Mr. Huffman a retired firefighter and parent at Waxhaw Elementary came to share about the bagpipes and how they make sound. He has been playing 14 years. He started playing 2001 just after 9/11 because they needed more firefighters to play traditional songs at the many services at that time. We learned a bit of history about the bagpipes, the parts of the bagpipe and how they can make sound. The first bagpipe was discovered in Egypt. It is considered a woodwind instrument. It is made of Ebony wood, which is an African wood that is the heaviest and densest wood, which means it will sink in water. The blowpipe(pipe that puts air into the bagpipe)and chanter(recorder) and the drones(3 pipes attached to the bag) are the major parts that make the sound for the bagpipes. The reeds, within the chanter are made out of reeds that you see in ponds that vibrate and make the sound. Bagpipers use their whole finger not the tip to cover the wholes as they play. The bagpipes also have a bag attached it. You need to keep 80% of air in the bag at all times. When you play the bagpipe you have to blow up the bag and then punch the bag to prepare it to play. If you have a leak bagpipes won't work. Mr. Huffman asked us what sound waves were and he explained with a musical instrument sound moves in waves and that wider the sound wave the lower the sound, tighter the sound wave the higher the sound and they both make a harmony together. To harmonically balance a bagpipe the tuning is done by the ear, when the 3 chanters sound like one pipe they are tuned. Some common pieces of music played on the bagpipes is “Scotland the Brave” (a happy song) and “Amazing Grace” (a sad song). Sam Neal asked Mr. Huffman, “Are the yellow ropes important?” Mr. Huffman explained the cords hold the pipes in place and spaced as they would just dangle without them. The drone reeds in the tall drone pipes, could loosen and fall out inside the bag if the pipes hung. The cord color can signify different ranks or positions in the band. Kaylee Hinson asked “Have you ever failed at bagpiping?” Mr. Huffman responded by saying, “Yes! It is a hard instrument to play and many people quit. The key is to keep trying and to never give up!”

Written by: Tiffany Brown, Third Grade Teacher
Posted: May 13, 2015 by Dana Sullivan

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