BAGPIPE LESSONS - STARTING OUT

The gentleman on the right of this 1856 illustration from "Punch" wishes he could play the pipes. He could get started by reading "The Highland Emigrants Piping Tutor" . Too bad Victorians were stuck with Logan's Tutor....

Above: a selection of Kintail long practice chanters. LtoR: sterling silver mounted blackwood; blackwood with ivory sole and nickel ferrule - poly top; full imitation ivory mounted chanter; all poly chanter with nickel ferrule and imitation sole; plain poly chanter; shown with the Highland Emigrant's Piping Tutor and CD. Practice chanters are available to order with any mount combination shown on the 'Bagpipes' page.

BAGPIPE INSTRUCTION: So you want to learn to play the pipes. Great! You're joining thousands around the world who participate in the centuries-old tradition of playing the Great Highland Bagpipe. If you live in the San Francisco Bay area, you can take lessons from myself or several other qualified instructors. If you live out of my area, I have many contacts in the piping world and can point you in the right direction for instruction.

THE GREAT HIGHLAND BAGPIPE IS NOT A TEACH-YOURSELF INSTRUMENT

Please, PLEASE don't even try. You'll only waste your time and give a future instructor a serious headache correcting your mistakes. Start properly from the beginning with a GOOD practice chanter, a GOOD instructor, and regular lessons. End of sermon.

I offer a student kit with any of three different Kintail Long practice chanter models - plain delrin, mounted delrin, or blackwood practice chanter, tutor book, and CD. 'Plain' kit is $139.95; 'mounted' kit - $149.95; and the blackwood practice chanter kit is $199.95. These come with reeds, 'slobber gobblers,' and a carrying case; the book is a choice of my Highland Emigrant's Piping Tutor, The College of Piping Tutor, or Archie Cairns' Piping Tutor; they all come with an accompanying CD. These are all comprehensive tutors with a full range of lessons, historical information, and instructions on chanter and bagpipe maintenance. I also strongly encourage everyone to get Jim McGillivray's Rhythmic Fingerwork exercise book, as it's a great companion to any tutor.

Other models of practice chanter are available on order - child's small chanter, regular size, or any size chanter with different mounts can be special ordered. Silver and real ivory mounts are available, but the price is WAY up there and they don't sound any different. They just look pretty.

WEEKLY LESSONS are available here at the office on a first-come basis. I have several students who have been with me for a long time. The 'senior' students get the best lesson times. I currently teach on Sundays through Wednesdays here at the shop. You can call 510-569-1689 or email pipey@netwiz.net to arrange lesson times and get directions. RATES for lessons: $25 per hour, payable monthly in advance. That way, if you don't show, it's on your head, not mine. If there are problems that come up, notify me at least 24 hours ahead to get credit for the lesson. I will always notify YOU if I have to go out of town. I expect the same courtesy from my students.

If you live outside the San Francisco Bay area, I'll be happy to try to connect you to a qualified instructor near you. There are several websites with instructor lists, and I have contacts around the country.

HOW QUICKLY CAN I PLAY THE PIPES? Everyone progresses at their own pace. Typically, at least six months to a year on the practice chanter is necessary before a student can progress to a set of pipes. Some students can do it in less than six months; others require more time. Age and job status are factors; previous music experience IS helpful; prior instrument and music reading experience shorten your initial learning time - but everyone learns at their own pace. There is no 'set term' for each student. Depending on the amount of practice each day, a student can expect to progress through one lesson per month or better - but every individual is different and learns at a different rate.

If you've already played another instrument AND read music, you can expect to learn more quickly than someone who's never played or sung a note before. Younger students generally progress quicker than older students; it's the nature of learning - but there is no pressure to perform at a set level.

Please feel free to call or email about learning the Great Highland Bagpipe. I'll be happy to talk to you about tuition, chanters, pipes, and anything to do with the instrument.

For more on Practice Chanters, click here!

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All images on this site used with permission from Tamarsha B.V. / Twice Blown Music and Sharp and Co Bagpipe Makers LTD