|The Highland Bagpipe scale is that of the treble clef and ranges from low G to High A (Figure A). A
relatively easy scale to learn; however, there are several grace notes to master (Figure B). A grace note
is a very quick note or a series of notes used to separate the main melody notes because 'tonguing'
cannot be done while playing the bagpipes.
To learn the bagpipes is not hard nor is it complicated; the catch however, is persistent and slow
practice. Your dedication to the instrument is an immediate reflection of it. Playing them is another story...
To get started in learning the Great Highland Bagpipe (GHB) of Scotland you will first need a practice
chanter, an instrument that follows along with pipers from the beginning to the end. There are numerous
brands of practice chanters; though, from personal experience I recommend the David Nail, Walsh, or
Gibson polypenco (plastic) extra-long chanter with counter sunk holes (and if available, o-ring seals) for
about $80 to $100. Practice chanters also come in smaller regular 'standard' size or a child's size for
If you have a question or are unsure of the makes you are more than welcomed to ask me for my
experience, suggestions, guidance, opinions, etc. On my links page I list some vendors that are
recommended. If you have already bought a practice chanter...the twenty dollar rosewood type, don't feel
disheartened. It may get you through the first few lessons and not to mention a swell looking mantle
piece; however, learning will be a LOT easier on a more permanent and sound practice instrument.
Once you have your practice chanter, next you will need a tutor book. I teach from my own book, Piping
Necessities for the Beginner Bagpiper. (All instructors have their preferences so be sure to consult
with them before buying any books.) Then you will need to schedule your first lesson! Lessons can be
weekly or monthly, but whatever the frequency, lessons are recommended to ensure proper technique.
If you had lessons in the past or already have a practice chanter or even began on the pipes and would
like to continue lessons we can certainly pick up where you left off and plan a practice regimen.
Don't be bashful, contact me and tell me about your interest of the Great Highland Bagpipe. I would love
to hear your story on how you got bitten.