Keeping Traditional Culture Alive – Learning to Play the Bagpipes

I am proud to be Scottish and feel strongly that we should, as a nation, protect our heritage. I enjoy researching the history of Scotland and discovering more about our traditions. I love to try to keep our heritage in the things I do personally and to encourage others to also take an interest in traditional Scottish activities and pastimes. I often cook traditional food using local ingredients and go to local events and community gatherings with others who celebrate everything Scottish. I also believe it is important to pass on any cultural traditions to our children so that they will continue onwards with the next generation and not be lost to the annals of time.


My love of bagpipes

One of the things that people usually associate with Scotland is bagpipes. This is a wonderful instrument that is often played at ceremonies, large events and celebrations. Who doesn’t love the amazing sound of a bagpipe band?

A few years ago I visited the Grantown on Spey Highland Games, staying at a country house hotel in Speyside, and was bewitched by the beauty of the sound of bagpipes and the skill of those playing them. I loved the instrument so much that I began to wonder about the history of them and whether I would have the skills to play the bagpipes myself.

History of bagpipes

In spite of their strong connections with Scotland,surprisingly  this isn’t the country of their origin. The first recorded bagpipe was found in Asia. They were a popular instrument in many countries across the world including, Spain, Egypt, France and India. Before they became popular in Scotland, they were played in other parts of the UK first. How bagpipes were first introduced to Scotland is debated, as some believe that they came from Ireland while others believe them to be a Roman import.

Skills for playing bagpipes

A friend let me try to play their bagpipes; I found it impossible to even make a sound! So, I have looked into the skills needed to learn before I decide whether or not I will have the ability to play the bagpipes myself. Apparently, I will need good wind power and steadiness of the hand. I will also need to learn how to read music, how to tune the bagpipes, positions of fingerings and how to control the sound. Although it seems a lot to take in I’m assured that with the right tuition there is no reason why I cannot learn all of these things with effort and a lot of practise.

Bagpipe lesson possibilities

When I was on the Internet finding out about bagpipes, I came across some websites with instructions for learning how to play them. However, I think it will be much better for me to learn the skills from a qualified instructor. That way I can get practical demonstrations and they will be able to support me in learning the instrument step-by-step. An instructor will be able to give me tips and advice to improve, concentrating on areas that need the most attention. Luckily, there are several options in my city for learning the bagpipes. I think the best option will be to contact each of them and find out about the times and costs of the lessons. I can then base my decision on this information and the experience of the instructor.

Based on my research and findings about learning to play the bagpipes, I think it is something that I will pursue. I would love to be able to play an instrument that is so important to many Scottish traditions and I would be delighted if my children learnt this instrument too. It would be fantastic to play together as a family, and to know that I had passed this tradition on to another generation.