In the last 25 years, I have taught many adults to play the Great Highland Bagpipe.  I have discovered that they all start with great energy and good intentions, eventually getting to the point where they actually buy a set of pipes.  Then something happens and they start to lose the interest and drive that got them started. 

Playing the bagpipe up to the point of buying a set of pipes is a great accomplishment!  The truth is that the hardest part of the process is done by that point.  However, it often seems that, at that time, something happens in their lives that throws them off schedule.  They call and stop their lessons after 2 to 3 years and put the pipes in the closet. 

A few years later, they send me a note and ask if I have anyone interested in buying their pipes.  Here’s what you all should know:  I’m not interested in buying your pipes. I’m more interested in your getting back up on the horse and riding it again.  So let’s talk about how to do that:

  1. Get a Bagpipe Stand!!  Your pipes are calling your name from the closet and you can’t hear them.  Putting them on display where you can actually see them regularly will keep you interested in playing. 
  2. If you haven’t played your bagpipe in sometime, don’t expect yourself to be able to make it happen right away!  You need to go back to basics.
    1. Find time to play everyday
    2. Start with the practice chanter
    3. Blow until your lip gives out. However, if you’d like to practice an hour each day but your lip gives out in 15 minutes, schedule four 15-minute practice sessions!
    4. Get a set of small pipes if you don’t have them.  Why?  Because the drones and the chanter will give you immediate gratification, pushing you to practice more.  You are going to rebuild your strength on these practice pipes.
    5. When you are ready to play your pipes, cork the drones and use a soft chanter reed.  I can’t tell you the number of people who pull their pipes out after years of not playing and try to blow a chanter and 3 drones. 
    7. Play with other people.  For the last couple of weeks, I have posted that I have an interest in forming an ensemble group program on Monday nights.  If it becomes something, then great, but it’s a reason to practice and a place to hang out with people like you who are interested in playing the bagpipe. 
    8. Finally, just make a decision that you’re going to finish this project.  Remember, you were the one that called me in the first place about playing the bagpipe.