Playing The Bagpipes

Where do I start?

You have decided you want to learn to play the bagpipes. The Bagpipe is a difficult instrument and like any instrument it is easiest to learn as a child or teen; however, a lot of adults have made a hobby of piping. By combining patience and perseverance with an intelligent approach and good instruction anyone can learn to play the bagpipe.

Good instruction is essential. The pipes are not an instrument you pick up on your own, no matter how many other instruments you play! They are a very technical instrument with a sophisticated system of grace noting. Written tutorials do not always steer you clear of pitfalls. Our Tutors have many years of both piping and teaching experience to help you on your journey.

To make significant progress, you should be prepared to practice in a very focused way for a minimum of 20 minutes a day at least 5 days a week. By focused practice, I mean not practicing while you watch Television! Students who work the hardest and spend the most time practicing are the ones who advance the quickest. Talent is only part of the equation; hard work is the key!


You do not start with a set of bagpipes. Instead, you will start with a practice chanter, which is a small recorder-like instrument that is quiet and also more affordable. In the first several months, you will begin by learning the fingering and gracenoting system required to play Highland Bagpipe tunes. Once you can play a few simple tunes and have them memorized, your instructor will probably suggest you acquire a set of pipes.

Practice Chanters

Practice chanters can be made out of polypenco (also called delrin), which is basically plastic. These instruments are tough that cost between $75 and $175. They may also be made out of African Blackwood; these can cost between $175 and $300, or even more if you want silver and engraved silver adornments on it.

Attend our practice

Best off is to come and see us at practice one Tuesday night at the Ambulance Victoria Training Centre – Brady Street – South Melbourne – contact us at

Want to book the band?

Please contact Graham Mummery – President

Ambulance Victoria Pipes & Drums Band