Bagpipe Instruction




Since I began piping over 20-years ago I have had an interest in teaching and have been dedicated to preserving and promoting traditional music. Learning the instrument in school, I was expected to help the beginners along. This was when I discovered that I thoroughly enjoyed teaching pipes. I have been teaching private lessons since 1996.

Studying the Highland bagpipe is both challenging and fulfilling. It teaches dedication, self-motivation and tradition while giving you a source of pride and accomplishment. Students of all ages are welcome and no previous musical experience is necessary. Although any musical skills you already have will certainly help.

The Highland bagpipe is said to be the most difficult instrument to learn. I disagree. In fact, I believe that many instruments are far more difficult to learn. However, the Great Highland Bagpipe is by far the most physically challenging instrument to play. Therefore, dilligent practice and conditioning are required to maintain a level of proficiency.

I expect the most from my students in the way of practice and responsibility. The more quality, productive time a student can spend with the instrument, the less frustrating the experience will be and the more fun the student will have. The dilligent student will be rewarded with a skill and art form that is both ancient and beautiful; a cultural tradition that is something to be revered and passed on to future generations.

If you are interested in learning to play the bagpipes, please contact me for a consultation.

Instruction F.A.Q.
What will I need?

To get started you will first need a quality practice chanter. I will provide all the necessary learning materials.

What do you charge?
30 minute instruction: $15.00 per session

How often should I take lessons?
I recommend one lesson per week if possible. I do have some long-distance students who attend bi-weekly or monthly lessons as well.

How much should I practice?The begining student should practice at least 20 minutes a day, while more advanced students should be practicing up to 45 minutes or a hour several times a week.

Demonstrations



Many schools have special days when they bring in artists from the community to demonstrate their craft. I offer an exciting and informative presentation about the Bagpipes and Scottish culture. After playing some traditional music and some familiar music on the pipes, I go on to explain how they work and what they are made of.

Bagpipe bags, reeds and other items are passed around for the children to touch and examine. I wear the traditional Scottish kilt and discuss the history of the kilt, tartans and different articles worn: kilt, sporran, etc.

I have presented programs to adults and children as young as 4 and up, and tailor my presentation to the age of the group. I have also presented demonstrations and lectures for adults who are interested in learning more about the instrument. Several kinds of pipes can also be included in the demonstrations.

Rates for these services vary with location and length of performance, please contact me for details.

Funerals and Memorial Services

In recent years, the sound of a hymn played on the Great Highland Bagpipe has become associated with funeral services for a loved one. Perhaps it is the ancient, non-western scale of the instrument, or the soulful and haunting sounds that it makes. But for whatever the reason, many people want to have bagpipes played at a funeral service.

How many times have you seen coverage on the evening news of a funeral for a fireman or policeman who have given their life in the performance of their duties, you can usually hear a piper in the background playing Amazing Grace.



Suggestions for the Funeral Service



  • The Great Highland Bagpipe can be played outside as mourners arrive.


  • Scottish shuttle pipes or Smallpipes can be played inside the Chapel or Church. These pipes provide a quiet and intimate sound, and create a beautiful tone for the service.


  • Play as the family enters.


  • Play as the casket is brought in.


  • At any point in the service, the piper could play a special hymn, or tune on either kind of pipes. The piper could be in the same room, or off in the distance (or outside) if preferred.


  • The pipes can be played as the casket is carried out of the chapel.


Graveside




  • Bagpipes can be played as the funeral procession arrives, during the graveside service, or after the service is over and friends and family are leaving.


  • If the terrain permits, it is quite effective for the piper to be at a distance and out of sight, when the tune is started. Then move slowly move towards the graveside before the hymn is completed. If the piper is out of sight, then someone will need to give the cue when to begin playing.


Rates for these services vary with location and length of performance, please contact me for details.

Bagpipes at Weddings

No doubt, once you have made the decision to have bagpipes at your wedding, you will have friends and family who are surprised or befuddled. Let me assure you that bagpipes work very well at weddings, and the concept of having a piper at a wedding goes back for centuries.

There are written references to piping at weddings in the early 1600s in Scotland, and there is no way of knowing how old the custom may actually be. Almost every European country has an early form of the bagpipe that may have been used in this way. Often in current times, having a bagpiper present at a wedding is a way for the bride and/or groom to celebrate, honor and connect with their Celtic roots . . . or simply do something different.

Other times, the couple may not have any known Celtic connections, yet they still want bagpipes at their wedding. Once you've made the decision that bagpipes are a "must have" part of your wedding, the next step is to determine how and when. You may want the piper to provide all the music, or surprise the guests when escorting the bride and groom out of the ceremony.

Incorporating Bagpipes

Bagpipes can supply all or some of the music for your wedding, whether your ceremony is held indoors or outdoors. Use different bagpipes for different effects – for example, use the Great Highland Bagpipes for a grand entrance.

Suggestions for the Ceremony


  • Play outside as guests arrive or leave.


  • Play indoors before ceremony as a prelude - pipes alone or with an organ.


  • Play for the seating of grandparents and parents.


  • Play for the entry of the groomsmen.


  • Play for the entry of the bridal attendants.


  • Play for the Bride's procession.


  • During the wedding as a solo or to accompany lighting the Unity candle.


  • Play at the end to escort the Bride and Groom out of the ceremony.


  • Play for 5-10 minutes and then lead guests to reception or to their cars.

Suggestions for the Reception



  • Play outside entrance to reception.


  • Lead the bride and groom into reception.


  • Play periodically during the party.


Rates for these services vary with location and length of performance, please contact me for details.