Learning to play the bagpipes may just be the most life changing experience you will have.
For centuries the Scots have taken the sound and music of the Highland Bagpipe to all corners of the globe and in so doing have helped promote the unique cultural identity of the Scottish nation.
Consequently, throughout the world the pipes have been taken up enthusiastically by peoples of all cultural backgrounds who have become intrigued by the instrument, its music and the traditions and history of piping.
Piping now flourishes within a global community that connects people in every continent and creates wonderful opportunities for pipers to travel, make friends, perform and continually learn about music in many forms.
This tutor book is where your journey and your learning begin. As with any new activity you will have fun and enjoyment but there will also be times when you will struggle and will need to persevere to move on to the next level. However, the effort will definitely be worthwhile.
The aim of this book is to provide the complete beginner with an aid to learning the fundamentals of playing the Highland Bagpipe. It may be possible to learn from the book without taking formal structured lessons but it should be stressed that, as in the learning of any musical instrument, the value of regular advice from a competent and skilled teacher cannot be overestimated.
It is essential that you practise each exercise and the tunes rigorously and that equal attention is given to the exercises as to the tunes.
Speed of progression from the chanter to the bagpipes will vary from student to student and will depend on a number of factors, not least, the amount of time spent practising. As an approximate guide, you should aim to have mastered about 7 or 8 simple tunes on the chanter before any of these could be attempted on the pipes.
On completion of this book you will have had a good introduction to most types of tune in the ‘light music’ repertoire. You should also have acquired a basic competence in music theory as it relates to the Highland Bagpipe and these skills combined will allow you to read and learn pipe music from other sources.
Students who are already musically literate may wish to read Appendix D before commencing in order to appreciate the particular methods of notation for pipe music.
Now it’s up to you. Practise hard, listen carefully and you will find a world full of new possibilities waiting for you.
Roddy MacLeod MBE
The National Piping Centre