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Can anyone help with tips for playing a Shawm?

Posted: Mon Apr 14, 2008 10:31 am
by Sarah Macdonald
Hello, I have recently aquired a Shawm, but the problem is I can't get a note out of it for more than a nano second!! And its not a pretty sound either! Is it like playing an oboe? Is it worth my while finding a friendly oboe teacher for assistance or is it nothing like it??
I used to play recorder and flute so have a totally different playing style than that required - obviously!
Any help gratefully received. Many thanks.

Posted: Mon Apr 14, 2008 2:25 pm
by Sophia
Yes it is like playing an oboe - it is IIRC an ancestor of the modern oboe. You would probably be best find a local musical instrument store that sells medieval instruments or trying to find a local early music group rather than finding an oboe teacher.

BTW getting a note out of it is largely a matter of practice.

Good luck,

Sophia :D

Posted: Mon Apr 14, 2008 7:43 pm
by busy mole
Hi, put the reed into your mouth so that your lips are down to the tape that fixes the reeds together then your mouth acts as a cap like the cap on a crumhorn etc. Don't put your lips round the reed like you would a modern oboe, as Sophia says, don't go to an oboe teacher. The reed is free to vibrate in your mouth, it feels a bit funny at first but you should get used to it. Also use your pelvic and stomach muscles to support your breathing. Sometimes a bit of trial and error and practice is needed to get going. You can tongue the notes like a recorder but it will be further back as the reed is further in your mouth. Experiment and see what happens.

We are at Rockingham and other events if you want to come for a chat, I'm not an expert on the shawm but I know someone who is, they should be there too.

Posted: Tue Sep 02, 2008 6:53 am
Hi, why not ask the experts, you will find them at; AND if you still cant get round it, they'll be playing not to far from you in February. Another good person to ask is our very own 'Strumps'. Get her through the schelmishfiain web site.

Posted: Tue Sep 02, 2008 3:23 pm
by hazyma
I'm so glad I'm not the only one who buys an instrument and then find it more difficult than I first thought!See my plea regarding the pipes!
Anyway I just wanted to wish you luck and say that I hope you get a nicer noise out of them soon! We novices must stick together - I notice Schelmish obviously think it's easier to give advice on the shawn rather than the pipes......oh well off to make more tortured sounds!

Posted: Tue Sep 02, 2008 9:05 pm
Hi Hazyma, think they would probably be glad to try and help with the pipes as well. There are also a number of good pipers in this country as well, ever thought of an e.mail to say, Saor Patrol asking them?

Posted: Fri Sep 19, 2008 7:41 am
One esp. for Sarah and Hazyma, seen whats under events?? The 'Schelms' and Saor Patrol, same stage, same night as prommised. :D

Posted: Fri Sep 19, 2008 8:35 pm
by hazyma
Aww! Gloucester in February from here? No chance! Why don't they come further north :cry:

Posted: Fri Sep 19, 2008 9:46 pm
Also looking for venue in the North Midlands area (Craig's helping) and also East Anglia. Dont worry if I find one it'l get posted on L.H. :)

Posted: Fri Sep 26, 2008 7:55 pm
by GuyDeDinan
I've been tempted by a shawm, but also a bombarde, as I lived in Brittany for a bit, and am a fan of the likes of Schelmish/Tri Yann/Corvus Corax/Alan Stivell, etc. It'll be a good addition to our incipient musical element in the Shire.

Posted: Sat Oct 04, 2008 2:01 pm
hazyma wrote:- I notice Schelmish obviously think it's easier to give advice on the shawn rather than the pipes......oh well off to make more tortured sounds!
Just an 'update' not even sure that it's not a secret but Schelmish have just ordered 4 sets of 'Scottish' pipes. I'm off to pick them up in 12 days time, delivering to 'The Schelms' so who knows what may happen at that Guildhall gig. And the plan now is to record it for a 10th. anniversary D.V.D. special.. :D

Posted: Sat Oct 04, 2008 2:49 pm
by hazyma
I'm sure you're not allowed to advertise but are the "scottish" pipes coming from scotland - just out of interest?!
Anyway, the good news is that after contacting the fab piper in the north< I can now get recognisable notes out of my pipes and play a scale!(nothing short of miraculous, I think!) So to all who are struggling: find a good teacher(this guy is by royal appointment - altho he'll kill me for saying so! :wink: ) and stick at it ! It's all to do with how hard you squeeze- story of my life! :evil:

Posted: Sun Oct 05, 2008 11:37 am
Yes they are. I'm meeting up with a member of Saor Patrol at a secret destination to the Northeast of hear to collect then pass on to 'The Schelms'. Like I said, could be very intresting on the 27th. :D