Getting Started or How Can I Learn To Play The Bagpipes?

The first thing people ask is “how can I learn to play the bagpipes?” This question is usually followed closely by a second question which is “how much does it cost?” The answer to the first question is “of course you can learn to play the bagpipes but it takes instruction and practice. The answer to the second question is “it depends.” Firstly it costs in time. To be a good piper requires a lot of practice. The more time you can devote to playing the bagpipes the better piper you will become. There is a lot to know and a lot of little skills that must be mastered to play well.

Bagpipe Practice Chanter
Practice Chanter

Then there is the cost of equipment. All pipers learn on something called a practice chanter. The best pipers in the world spend the bulk of their time with the practice chanter. This solo pipe allows you to practice fingerings and techniques without the added pressures of playing a full set of pipes. A good poly practice chanter, from a reputable source, will run around $80. You will also want a beginner piping book that explains good finger techniques and as a resource as you progress. You can budget $20 for that.

Poly Pipes

“But what about pipes” you ask? It takes many months of hard work on the practice chanter to graduate to the pipes. Your teacher will tell you when the time is right. By that time you will have studied the pipe market, read the pros and cons of each manufacturer’s offering, weighed the benefits of black wood vs poly pipes and had much advice from your band mates. A good playable set of poly pipes, ready to play with bag, reeds, cords and chanter will run in the $800 range. Before you say “that’s expensive” talk to someone that plays cello and ask them what they paid for their instrument?

Please Do Not Buy Cheap Pipe

We know how tempting it is to jump ahead and buy a set of pipes just to try them out. Please do not buy cheap pipes off of Amazon or Ebay.. These are usually hastily made from inferior woods and they cannot be tuned or played. They only look like bagpipes. They do not work like bagpipes.