How do I get started to learn the pipes?

Learning is always done on a practice chanter -NEVER on the bagpipe.

(Warning to those who care about being successful: The vast majority (>99%)of those prospective pipers who buy their pipes first and then worry about lessons NEVER become decent pipers. The constant draw and distraction of a set of pipes is too much for most students and the disciplined learning required to be a GOOD piper is usually lost.  I've seen this happen many times.  If you have a set of pipes already, give them to your teacher to hold until you are ready - or you never will be.)

Adults and older children should buy an extended long plastic practice chanter.  There is a children's size chanter for those who are less than 12 yrs old.  Never buy a chanter with a wooden top as it WILL eventually split. Chanters cost between $35 (for a real cheapo) and $150 (for the unnecessarily deluxe model) , but the typical good chanter is about $75-90 (US). 

This instrument is similar to the bagpipe chanter and allows the student to learn the grace-note patterns and tunes. It is not a temporary instrument as the piper will use the chanter to learn and perfect new tunes for the rest of their life.

Involvement with a teaching program, like these classes, or one-on-one lessons are essential.

Once the student has demonstrated that they can accurately play at least five tunes from memory, then they can start on the bagpipe. This initial phase of the instruction takes about 6-12 months and depends on musical background, age, and effort put into practice. (Note: Musical background is advantage of +1 for being able to read music and +1 for being able to play another instrument. It can be a detriment of -1 for being able to play a second instrument (lack of focus) and -1 for having advanced skills at any post-renaissance form (will struggle with historical assumptions about timing of embellishments).) At this point, the student should also have sufficient exposure to piping to decide if it's something that they want to pursue further with additional expenditure of time and money.

Copyright S.K. MacLeod 1996-2016