If you plan to go into the wilderness, then you must have a guide...
Whether you are a new student looking to begin learning the bagpipe or an experienced
player trying to polish your skills with advanced lessons, it is important to get
quality instruction. There are several things you can do to help you gauge the experience
of potential teachers and these are listed
under "Selecting a Piper".
In addition to the technical requirements of any bagpipe instructor, you should
seek out someone who has a genuine love of teaching. In addition to teaching bagpipes,
I regularly teach computer programming (C# and .NET mostly). Over the years I have
also taught CPR for the American Heart Association and I even taught Archery while
I was a student at Emory University.
I have been teaching individual bagpipe lessons on a regular basis since I was a
Freshman at Emory University. Over the years I have started many students
off from scratch and helped them to become accomplished bagpipers. I have also taught
many advanced bagpipe players who have succesfully competed in the upper solo competition grades
. Many of my advanced students are bagpipe
instructors themselves with their own students. All of my students are required
to compete individually once they reach a certain level.
I teach out of my house which is located in Cary, North Carolina. Cary is located
just West of Raleigh and South of Durham. Although most of my bagpipe students are
from the Raleigh-Durham metro area, I have had students that came to me on a weekly
basis from over two hours away. I also have some students who live outside of North
Carolina and who take their lessons via Skype.
I have a dedicated room for teaching which provides plenty of space for playing
on the bagpipes. I teach in the evenings and lessons are 50-55 minutes long. My
students come to me on a weekly basis.
- $25/lesson - Full Time Student
- $35/lesson - Regular Fee
Please Note: My teaching schedule is now full and I am accepting new students by
Learning the bagpipe is highly rewarding, but it is something you do not want to
try on your own. There are a lot of "gotchas" that one can encounter and those who
are self-taught invariably develop bad habits which they must then unlearn. To get
started you will need four things:
- A Practice Chanter
- A Tutor Book
- A Metronome
- An Experienced Bagpipe Instructor
The Practice Chanter
is a smaller and quieter
version of the melody pipe of the bagpipe which is fitted with a mouthpiece so that
it can be blown directly (e.g. No Bag). A beginning bagpiper always starts by learning
the scale, some embellishments, and then your first tunes. Only after you can play
ten or so tunes by memory on the practice chanter do you progress to the full set
of bagpipes. Please see the list of shops & makers
on my links page for suggestions on where to purchase a practice chanter.
DO NOT buy a bagpipe before getting started with an experienced bagpipe teacher.
Most of the instruments that you find on the internet and from general music stores
are of poor quality and their low price may seem like a good deal at first, but
it is not. Two hundred dollars is too much to pay for a wall hanger. Your teacher
can guide you when the time is appropriate for you to purchase a set of bagpipes.
Never. I once had a piping student who began learning the bagpipes at age 77. Yes,
the younger you start the better, but it is not the only factor that plays into
your potential ability to learn the bagpipes. There are five factors which determine
how far someone will progress with the bagpipes.
This is your natural talent for music.
How much do you want it? This is probably the most critical factor in determining
how far and fast you will progress. You can have all the ability in the world, but
if you never practice, well...
The better the instruction, the faster you will progress. Find a qualified bagpipe
Previous Musical Experience
This helps in a myriad of subtle ways including reading music, ensemble playing,
tuning your instrument, finger dexterity, and developing an ear.
If you are thinking about taking bagpipe lessons, then do not keep putting it off
- learn now! It is well worth it!
I have regularly conducted workshops for bagpipe bands throughout the Southeastern
United States. I was also a regular bagpipe instructor for the Southeast Workshop
sponsered by the EUSPBA. Some of the topics and disciplines that I can teach for
- Reading Music
- Band Ensemble
- Band Unison Playing
- Band Tuning & Tone
- Execution and Technique
- Musical Expression & Phrasing
- Attacks & Cut-Offs (e.g. Starts & Stops)
- Blowing Steady
- Tuning your Chanter
- Tuning your Drones
- Bagpipe Maintenance
- Musical Composition
- Writing Harmonies
- Working with Bagpipe Reeds
- Music Theory
- History of Bagpiping
- Playing the Bagpipes with Other Instruments
- Preparing Yourself or Your Bagpipe Band for Competition
- Teaching the Teacher - Tips for the Bagpipe Instructor
- The Professional Bagpiper - Tips for the Bagpipe Performer
I offer remote instruction over the internet for those students who cannot come
to me on a regular basis. This is very effective for those people who do not live
near a qualified instructor, especially when combined with a periodical face-to-face
lesson. All you need is a webcam and a Skype account.
One of my younger students who is trying the bagpipes for the first time. Click
here to see a picture of this same student competing
at the Loch Norman Highland Games in North Carolina.
Some of my students, "Jerry's Kids", displaying their medals won during the solo
bagpipe competitions at the 1990 Grandfather Mountain Highland Games. Left to
Right: Chris Martin, Morgan Beasley, David Jewell, Wendy Hembree
Teaching a workshop for the Heart of Georgia Pipe Band in Centerville, GA
Teaching officers from the College Park Police Department, College Park, Georgia
Two students at a workshop going over music.