One of the greatest things I ever did in my life was playing the Great Highland Bagpipe. My situation was a complete accident. My father was a Department Store Manager who got transferred every time his company opened a new store. Every year I was in a different school. In the 10th grade I was at Helix High School in La Mesa, California. They were the Helix “Highlanders”. I never saw or heard a bagpipe until the first day of school. In checking out this new sound coming from behind some buildings, I found the Helix Pipe Band. After finding out that I could join the group and be taught at school, I was hooked. Over 40 years later, I am still playing and make my living playing and teaching the bagpipe.
The question is this: What do you need to get started? The first thing that you don’t need is a set of bagpipes. You need a practice chanter, a method and a teacher. Practice chanters start in price around $75, so it isn’t a big investment.
I have formulated my own method called “Bagpipes for Beginners”. The purpose of any good teaching program in my humble opinion is to teach the student to become independent. The Great Highland Bagpipe of Scotland is a “Folk” instrument. Like other Folk Instruments it has been taught primarily by rote and imitation, which is different than the Classical Instruments of the Orchestra that are taught by teaching notation and rhythm. As a Classical Musician, first, I personally feel that teaching you to play the Great Highland Bagpipe in the same manner as learning the piano or the oboe, will help you develop the music faster and give you a longer life span in the “bagpipe world”. There is something to be said for being independent and able to learn your own music at some point. Here are the goals of a good bagpipe teaching program:
For this to happen you need to learn to use the tools provided in my program. I have spent the last 20 years developing and refining my program. My job is to teach you how to practice this week. If you choose to “do your own thing” that’s fine, you won’t get a refund here. If you follow my program and do what you need to do, this will be a 2 to 5 year program instead of a 20 year program. Frankly, I could be dead by then and so could you if you choose the 20 year plan!
Here’s what you need to do:
If you are ready to get started or have any questions, do the following:
Gary Guth is a professional bagpiper with over 45 years of playing experience and has been teaching bagpipes full time for the last 20 years. He has written "Bagpipes For Beginners", "the Bagpipe Hymnal", and " A Piper's Christmas".