Bagpipe FAQ

What kind of bagpipes does your band play?

There are many different types of pipes, but when people think “bagpipes” they usually are thinking of the Great Highland Pipes (GHP) – the most commonly played variety by most pipe bands. The GHP are characterized by three drones, two tenors and a bass, a blow-stick and a chanter with nine holes. The GHP produce the largest and deepest sound of any bagpipes, and are therefore the best suited to playing parades and any other event where volume is needed.

Is it hard to learn to play the bagpipes?

Learning any musical instrument is a challenge. The blowing, squeezing, and fingering techniques needed to play all take months to learn, and years to master. But it’s certainly well worth the effort.

What will I need in order to learn to play the pipes?

The first and by far most important thing you will need is a desire to play and a love for the music. The second most important thing is a commitment to practicing regularly. When someone first begins learning the bagpipes, they buy a practice chanter – about $70 for a decent one. This is a cheap and relatively quiet way to practice and learn the finger movements needed to play a full set of pipes.

Do I have to take lessons, or can I just learn on my own?

You will need an instructor. The bagpipes are not like a guitar, and without proper instruction, you will make many mistakes that will greatly impede your playing and slow your growth. There are many intricacies to playing that you simply cannot learn from a book because everybody is slightly different. Plus, an instructor will know where to get the best deals on reeds and other equipment.

How much do lessons cost?

Different bands charge various rates. The Isle of Maui Pipe Band has always taught for free to anyone who wanted to learn.

How long do I have to stay on the chanter before I can play a set of bagpipes?

How long it takes depends primarily on how much time you are willing to spend practicing. Some people take to it quicker than other, but generally speaking you can expect to spend somewhere between six months and a year on the chanter before you are ready to buy a set of pipes.

How much does a full set of Great Highland Pipes cost?

The short answer is, “As much as you want to spend.” Bagpipes range from in the hundreds, to several thousand dollars depending on quality, material types, and “embellishments” such as engraving or precious metals. For a decent set of performance quality pipes that won’t give you too much trouble with maintenance, and no unneeded extras, you can expect to pay something in the $900-1200 range.

All that sounds great, but I’d rather play the drums…

We offer free drum lessons too.

What kind of drums does a pipe band use?

The typical pipe band has three kinds of drums: bass, tenor, and snare or side. Snare drums keep things “rolling” along, while the bass provides the anchor for the whole band, and helps the pipers and drummers stay together. The tenors primarily assist the bass in the mid-section and add extra accents to beats. Tenors also serve another purpose however. Tenor drummers learn to twirl their mallets in time with the music, providing an exciting visual performance along with the tunes.

How much will a drum cost me?

If you play for the band, we’ll provide you a drum for free.

Will I have to buy anything?

Drum pads and sticks. They’re not expensive.

Sounds good. When can I start learning the pipes/drums?

You tell us!