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Can you Teach Yourself the Bagpipes?

The Great Highland Bagpipes are a marvelous instrument that summons up feelings from deep within. One might even say that it’s soul stirring.

Ross Jennings piping near the Old Man of Storr, Isle of Skye, Scotland

I am always excited to hear from people who are affected in this way. Often they’ll say that they wish that they had learned to play. Why wait? Our community has always welcomed new pipers, young or old. After all, we want our tradition to continue on indefinitely. In the past it was difficult to find tuition, but with the advent of the internet we have so many options available to us and a quick search will find us many options. Online lessons are readily available and viable although nothing beats face to face instruction if you can find it.

So, can I teach myself to play the bagpipes?
I would say that bagpipes don’t lend themselves to self-teaching. Don’t get me wrong, there may be a few very talented pipers out there who learned to play on their own, but I would hazard to guess that they struggled a lot to get the basics learned properly.

Sure you can find free YouTube lessons, but you will not pick up the small mistakes you are making while learning. The mistakes will be locked in and extremely difficult to change later. If you take any advice from this article, it is best to learn the basics directly from an instructor who will help you along the way.

Do I need to pay for lessons?
Most bands offer free tuition and the best part is that they will give you direct advice where to buy a practice chanter. On the other hand, many instructors do charge a fee for lessons these days, so do your research, check their credentials and be prepared to shell out a small amount per lesson.

Where can I find a good set of bagpipes to learn on?
Hold on! Don’t get too hasty about buying a set of bagpipes right off the start. First you’ll need a practice chanter which is very inexpensive and you’ll use it for years to come. You may want to read this article before moving forward with your new bagpipe adventure.

Where can I find lessons to play the bagpipes?
There are a few viable options out there for lessons. Here’s a few to consider

  1. Find a local pipe band and reach out to them. They will give you direct guidance and support that you’ll need along the way. Best of all, you’ll have a group of like minded people to connect with which is a huge part of being a piper.
  2. Online lessons – If you can’t find a local band, you can utilize online tuition. Many talented pipers offer tuition online and this is a great opportunity if you can not find a local band.

Whatever you do, ask loads of questions and have fun with it. Reach out to knowledgeable pipers to learn more about the hobby. Good luck!

Kyle Campbell
Bagpipe Central

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