Going back to your initial e-mail, Barry, that many solos used to be
   played at NSP gatherings in the "early" days - at least before 1990,
   and now very few choose to stand up on their own before the
   "gang".                 -

   At that point in time there weren't many "expert" pipers other than
   Richard Butler - and he was always very supportive and encouraging to
   beginners.   Now we have the possibility of hearing a dozen or so
   superb players both live, and on CDs.   Inevitably we compare ourselves
   with these performers and find ourselves wanting.  Despite all of the
   compassionate and encouraging things which have been said on this
   thread in the last few days we nevertheless, still assume that others
   are going to make comparisons and be critical.   It has been my
   experience that if there is a tutor, or a good piper with a strong
   personality, in the group session who can create a non-threatening
   atmosphere and give a gentle, encouraging push, after one person has
   broken the ice and set the ball rolling - and possibly made a few
   mistakes, the rest are usually happy to follow suit.

   Often, when a group of amateur musicians get together (whatever their
   instruments), it seems that everyone wants to play all of the time  -
   especially if there is a common repertoire.  Maybe we have to learn to
   enjoy sitting back and listening to each other more frequently -
   (really listening, and not starting to chat while someone plays his/her
   solo).     Or perhaps it is a good idea to encourage people to bring
   along a new tune which lies well on the pipes, to share by first
   playing it to the group, and either hand out the dots or teach it by
   ear/rote -   ( though this sometimes doesn't go down well, because it
   means sitting back and really listening when, as mentioned above,
   everyone wants to play all of the time).

   Well, that's my pennyworth



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