What do I need to get me started learning to play the Bagpipes?

Thinking about taking up playing the bagpipes as a hobby?

People decide to learn to play the bagpipes for various reasons. Some would just like to be able to play a few tunes for their own enjoyment or to maybe play at weddings or New Year's, whereas others would like to become a member of a pipe band so they can learn to march and play music in a group environment. Pipers often later move on to become competitors in either pipe bands and/or solos.

For whatever reason you choose, the first thing you will need to do is purchase what is known as a Practice Chanter

The picture below shows four of the most commonly used types of practice chanters. To see a full range of practice chanter makes and types Click Here

A practice chanter is the instrument with which we learn the fingering technique of the bagpipes and is what bagpipe players generally practice on and learn to play the music with. As the bagpipes are a very loud and also physically demanding musical instrument to play, we would not always want to play the full instrument whilst performing these tasks.

Practice chanters are made from many different materials but are generally various types of black plastic or African blackwood. Practice Chanters normally come in two pieces. A top section which has the mouthpiece attached and the bottom section which has the holes to play on. A practice chanter comes with a Practice Chanter Reed which makes the practice chanter sound. The reed goes into the top of the bottom section of the practice chanter and the top section is placed over to protect it. The player blows down into the mouthpiece on the top section to make the sound.

As you will notice, the practice chanters come in 2 different lengths. One is referred to as 'Standard' and the other as 'Long'. The Standard Practice Chanter is the original size and shape that practice chanters first started as. In more recent years bagpipe makers decided to make Long Practice Chanters which have the same hole spacing as the chanter on the bagpipes. The Long Practice Chanter can be practical and very helpful in assisting when it comes time to make the transition stage to playing the bagpipes. The Long Practice Chanters, in general, have a more deep, mellow tone compared with the Standard Practice Chanter.

You should expect to pay anywhere from $70 for a Standard Practice Chanter and anywhere from $120 for a Long Practice Chanter. This will get you a good quality practice chanter to start off with.

Please beware that it is very important to purchase a good quality practice chanter from a reputable maker to start off with. This will form the basis of your whole learning experience.

Once you have purchased a practice chanter there are 3 main avenues you can take to get you started. Whether you are going to have a private tutor, you are joining a pipe band or even planning to be a self taught piper, you will need to acquire some assistance in the form of literature and recordings. When learning to play the bagpipes you will also be learning to read, write and understand music at the same time. This is something you can not afford to skip over at the start because regardless of what level you attain as a piper you will always need to have these skills.

There are many different products on the market these days but we highly recommend a series of books and accompanying c.d's called Bagpipe Solutions by John Cairns. Each book contains a series of lessons which cover eveything you will need to know to get you started and to continue along the road to learning to play the bagpipes.

If you have any questions whatsoever about learning to play the bagpipes then please call us or email us and we will gladly help you out and point you in the right direction.

Happy Bagpiping!

Any Questions:- sales@lyonsbagpipes.com

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