There are a few different ways that you can learn to play the bagpipe. You can:
- Teach yourself
- Learn in a pipe band
- Study privately
Most people think that the cheapest way to learn to play the bagpipe is through self-instruction. Though it may be cheap, the question remains as to how much time do you want to take to get the job done. There’s a lot more to it than following the directions in the book.
Another option is to go to your local pipe band for instruction. That’s cheap, too…or is it? You might get free group lessons in a pipe band. However it isn’t truly going to be free. In exchange for those lessons, you will be playing in all of their parades and events so that they can recoup the money spent on training you and supplying you with a uniform. This is an acceptable option if you’re looking to play in a pipe band. However, as a pipe major, I’d rather have someone else teach the nuts and bolts before a new player comes to band practice.
Let’s talk about studying privately. I specialize in teaching older adults. In a lot of cases these people have already been through the self-study method and come to me because they are frustrated. Sadly, a lot of pipe bands won’t take older people because they don’t think that person will be able to play well enough to recoup their investment.
Bagpipe lessons aren’t cheap! There’s a reason for that. You get what you pay for, as the adage goes! If I don’t charge enough, you’re not going to listen to my advice. The student who tells me at their lesson that “this is what I did this week” is the person to needs to be paying the most. These students aren’t listening and are trying to reinvent the wheel. The wheel has already been invented, practiced, and formulated to create a process to develop your bagpipe skills.
I have spent thousands of hours over the last 23 years working to solve bagpipe student problems. Most of the time they aren’t fingering-related. Most of the time they are mental-related. As a teacher, I need to instill belief in that student so that they realize that they can succeed at this project. I also need to teach them time management so that they practice on a regular basis and get a return on their financial investment. Sometimes I need to raise their tuition more to get their attention. Once I have it, things fall in to place. It takes a certain mental mindset to develop a musical project like this.
You get what you pay for in the bagpipe teaching market place. If you aren’t willing to listen to your teacher and follow their program, save your money!