The beautiful music of the bagpipes is extremely popular. Bagpipes in the Scottish tradition were often heard at funeral and memorial services, and are even quite often still heard today, especially when a policeman or soldier has fallen in service. The drone or pedal tone lends itself quite well to the reflective nature of the atmosphere in such services, and the instrument seems to invoke a feeling of reverence and attention like no other.
Although it is an acquired taste, the bagpipes can also be very fun to play. The instrument is complicated, yes, and bagpipe techniques are challenging, but all can be learned in a relatively short time. You will need to invest a good deal of time and a bit of money, but it’s worth it in order to know how to play this beautiful instrument.
The first thing to do is get an instrument and learn all its parts. While you should definitely know all the parts of a bagpipe and their names, you probably shouldn’t buy a regular bagpipe to begin. Rather, invest in a practice chanter, which is smaller, cheaper, and quieter, and use it to practice scales and bagpipe techniques until you have the skill and resources to move on to a regular one.
Bagpipe techniques can certainly be learned by yourself, if you know certain scales, finger work, and blowing techniques, but with an instructor you will find progress coming much more quickly. Bagpipe instructors may be found at certain schools and community centers, but rarely, and a better way to find one is to look in classifieds and online. An instructor may charge a certain fee, but if you’re really serious about learning, the price is of negligible importance.
The most important thing about learning any instrument, especially learning bagpipe techniques, is the practice. You must be willing to invest at least a half hour a day, preferably more, in going over and over the scales and airflow bagpipe techniques until they are second nature to you. Practice might seem dull or tedious, but it is the secret to learning anything new.
If you follow good advice for learning the bagpipes, and aren’t afraid to invest what you need into the instrument and study the necessary bagpipe techniques, then within a short while you too could be playing the bagpipes like a pro. The bagpipes are beautiful when played correctly, and you and your friends can enjoy the music whenever you like.
Photo Credit:Thomas Cowart