Like any instrument, playing the bagpipes
can be a difficult task. The single most important part about playing any instrument is to practice.
The Scottish bagpipes (or Highland bagpipes) are distinguished by the sound, and parts of the instrument. Scottish bagpipes have two tenor drones and one bass drone. These drones, in combination with reeds produce sound. The drones are attached to the bag which can be made by either animal skin or synthetic materials. The blow stick is attached to the bag, which will allow you to provide air to the bag. To complete the set of bagpipes, a chanter and a chanter reed is needed to produce different sounds based on a scale from low A to high A.
Things you will need to begin:
Things you will need to learn how to play bagpipes
- A bagpipe
- Reeds for your drones and chanter (not your practice chanter)
- wax (if you don't have waxed hemp)
Before learning the bagpipes, you should always learn how to play the practice chanter. A practice chanter is easier to learn than the actual bagpipe. The chanter is usually a two piece unit with a reed inside it. Let's pretend you have a set of bagpipes, and have learned how to play the practice chanter
The first step to playing bagpipes is to put the bagpipe together if it is in pieces. In most cases, the only piece that has to be assembled is the bass drone. Just place the two bass drone pieces together (do not slide the top half of the bass drone down the full length of the joining piece).
To position the bagpipe, place the drones on your left shoulder. Hold the chanter with your left hand. Stick the blow stick into your mouth and blow. If you did not forget to assemble your bagpipes with the reeds, you should hear your drones. If this is your first time playing the bagpipes, you will probably faint trying to get a sound out of the chanter.
You will want to fill the bag with just enough air so that the drones do not produce a sound. Strike the bag with your right hand and place the bag under your arm. Quickly move your right hand to the chanter. While performing this maneuver, you should be blowing into the bag, keeping it full. Keep a steady tone from your drones by producing a steady amount of air in the bag while pressing the bag with your left elbow.
To produce a sound from the chanter, you must blow harder. Please be aware that playing bagpipes require lots of air. This is because you must produce air for the drones and the chanter reed. The chanter reed works by the vibration between the two pieces of reed, so depending on the flexibility and depth of each reed, the reed can be easy or hard to play. If you find that the reed is hard to play, moisten the reed with a small amount of water.
Generally, you will want to keep a steady amount of air flow through the bag while you squeeze it. Squeeze then blow, squeeze then blow. Don't do both at the same time.