If you're interested in learning the pipes it would most probably be a good idea to take a few minutes and read what is written here. Without a doubt, learning the pipes is not for everyone. It is one of those things that looks great on paper, but sometimes when applied to the real world, you stop and say "What the hell was I thinking!". Don't quote me on this, but I believe the bagpipes are the only instrument that an untrained person can pick up and NOT sound a note, this should be a clue that they are the hardest instrument to learn how to play. The real deciding factors on whether or not a student is successful in learning to play them is the students desire to learn and their determination to practice. If you're lacking in either, I would suggest an easier instrument. Still reading? Well, I guess you have both. Next important point. The pipes are pretty much impossible to learn without a somewhat competent teacher. I'm not saying this because I want your money, I've know a few people that have tried to learn the pipes themselves and it always ended up with a cry for help. The basics that you learn, which are very tedious and boring, must be learned correctly on the chanter or you'll never be able to move up to the next step, the pipes.
Pretty much the only item needed to learn the pipes is a practice chanter. Typically the cost will be between $50.00 and $125.00. They are readily available on line from numerous web sites and manufacturers. Not to show any favourtism to anyone, but both Dunbar and Gibson have quality, affordable chanters, and Gibson is located in the Cleveland area. I myself have both a Gibson and a Currie practice chanter. Don't expect to learn tunes anytime soon. Typically learning the scale can take 1-3 weeks, its not just the notes its also how the chanter is held. Ever play the recorder in school? Notice how the holes have been hollowed out for the tips of your fingers? Not with the pipes, holding the chanter you keep your fingers straight. This is something very foreign to do when gripping something and it takes quite a while for it to be comfortable. This is where the determination to practice comes in, its very boring.The pipes only have 9 notes and there isn't a way to stop the chanter from sounding a note while your playing. To give the pipes their unique sound, numerous grace notes and movements are used and it is these movements that must be learned before you can attempt a tune. You'll become very familiar with Shakes, Doublings, Throws, Grips, Burls, Strikes and Taorluaths. And of course, you can't learn the next movement until you have mastered the previous one, Learning these movements or "embelishments", is also very time consuming and not too exciting. Usually you're on the chanter for about a year before moving up to the pipes.
For sure, this is where it gets interesting. If you've stuck to the chanter and practiced hard, you will be ready to move up to the pipes. This is a big commitment to your time again, but also now to your wallet. A set of pipes is not cheap, and a good average price for a decent set of pipes is about $1200 -$1400.00, but adding some extras that you might want could easily push the pipes up to the $3000.00 - $5,000.00 price range, if not more.
Learning the pipes is pretty challenging, you'll start off with an easy reed and the drones taken out and corked off, this is referred to a "goose neck". You will spend quite a bit of time at this stage as equalizing and transferring the pressure of the air from your lungs and when you squeeze with your elbow is a bit tricky. Once you can succesfully play a tune without cutting the reed and not much effort or thought, you'll then get the 3 drone reeds back and a harder chanter reed and it will then be time to work on your lung stamina and endurance. Having played all this time with no drones, having the added weight of them now on your shoulder takes a wee while to become comfortable with, and then of course, you'll need to march, and that's another lesson all of its own.
My intention is not to scare anybody interested in learning, but to kind of put things in perspective as to what you are getting yourself in for.
Have some questions? Disagree? Can't decide?
Feel free to give me a call and I will be more than happy to answer what I can.
|Cell - 440.396.3075 Email - James@thebaldpiper.com|