Not to discourage, but you are about to embark on a long but very exciting journey. It is not a fast process, but you’ll enjoy it. You’ll probably have some frustration, but in the end it is entirely worth the effort.
To begin you will require two items other than time for lessons and time to practice on your own; a music book and a practice chanter.
We teach from a book titled The College of Piping Tutor Book 1, commonly called “The Green Book.” They are easily obtainable from the internet. You should purchase it as it is so much easier to learn from the printed book vs a monitor, but for your first few lessons, the necessary pages can be downloaded here. Download and Print them as needed.
Additionally, You Tube has put all of these lessons on line. Follow this link to go there.
The Practice Chanter:
The piece of the bagpipes which makes the actual melody is called a chanter. You’ll need a smaller and quieter version called the practice chanter to learn on. For the first lessons we might have a loaner available, but it’s not a certainty. Either way, you’ll definitely want to acquire your own if you choose to continue. Practice chanters range in price from 40 to several hundred dollars. In the long run you’ll want to invest more in a better chanter, but to begin, buy what you can afford and upgrade later. We can help you zero in one that works best for you.
If you choose to purchase a practice chanter, consider these things:
Polypenco Plastic, or Wood: Wood can sometimes have a deeper, more resonant and pleasant sound quality but they are more fragile. Plastic is easier to clean and the joint where the two halves connect is usually sealed with a rubber o-ring vs waxed thread on wood.
Some plastic chanters sound every bit as good as wood.
Length: They range from incredibly small to full length. Smaller could be great for a younger student, but the closer in length to an actual pipe chanter you can get, the better. A similar length will help your fingers become accustomed to their desired placement more quickly.
Sole or not: The bottom end of a chanter can have a wider flanged disk called the sole. For the most part it is ornamental. But, it can also keep the chanter up off of a soft surface such as a pants or skirt while practicing and prevent the chanter from being accidentally closed off.
Lastly... maker or brand.
If you can afford it, choose a reputable maker located in the UK, US or Canada. Consider that one of the chanters such as a Nail , Gibson, Shepherd, Cushing, or Warnock to name a few, might be something you play for the rest of your life as they are very well made.
If you just want an entry level chanter with plans to invest more later, they are typically from Pakistan or the area, easily found on ebay. They’ll last you through the initial learning process and still make a good backup chanter.
Reeds: Order an extra one or two if possible. Each maker should supply reeds which will work well with their chanter. They are fragile, store the extras in a safe place and once in the chanter, try to keep them out of extreme temperatures (yes we do have those in Texas.)
Chanter case: Your choice, eventually you’ll hopefully have a pipe case to store the practice chanter in with your pipes.
You can a litlle more info on practice chanters here in this article.
So, with all that being said...
If the pipes are calling you, print out the first lessons or buy the book and chanter if you want to jump in with both feet, and come to a Monday session at 6 p.m. (you can inquire about a loaner chanter via email.)
Practice sessions are held at:
Resurrection Episcopal Church
2200 Justin Ln, Austin, TX 78757
You can view the map on our Band Practice page