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Updated 06/27/2013

 

Piping Posture

The bagpipe might be considered ungainly, unsymmetrical and, certainly to the learner, an awkward collection of bits and pieces.  It is capable of being (and often is) played in all kinds of strange postures and positions.   Perhaps the best advice we can give to anyone is to be as natural as possible when playing the pipes.  Donít adjust yourself to fit the pipes Ė adjust the pipes to fit you.

Itís a balance between posture, pipe bag size, blowstick length, diaphragm control, etc., etc., etc.

Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Donít blow out your cheeks (face cheeks that is) Ė This is a bad habit some pipers get into.  Blow with the cheek muscles tensed so that your face does not blow up like a balloon.  Your neck will swell regardless of how you blow.

  • Donít blow pipes that are too strong for you Ė Itís easy to spot an expert piper and a beginning student.  The expert makes piping look effortless while the novice makes it look like a struggle.  Pipes are a physical instrument; there is no doubt about it.  Donít make it more difficult by playing reeds that are too strong.  Talk to one of us if you are having problems.

  • Donít hold the mouthpiece at the corner of your mouth Ė apart from encouraging head-twisting, the mouthpiece at the corner of your mouth leads to the escape of air when your lips get tired. 

  • The pipes are not an elbow instrument Ė your right elbow (assuming you are right-handed) should be held away from the body in a natural position.  Donít squeeeeeeeeeze the bag to maintain pressure; maintain pressure using your diaphragm.

  • Donít squeeeeeeze the chanter Ė you should be able to feel the vibrations above each hole of the chanter.

  • Look straight ahead Ė with the blowstick in the middle of your mouth. 

  • Keep your eyes on the Pipe Major Ė when in the circle. 

  • Keep your head erect Ė not thrown back or twisted to the side.

  • Keep your body erect Ė but not stiff.  Donít turn towards the PM in the circle; this affects the overall tone of the circle.

  • Your left shoulder will be higher than your right Ė again assuming you are right-handed.  Donít overcompensate.

  • Make sure your chanter is in a comfortable position Ė so that your fingers can rest on it in a relaxed posture.  If you cannot, check the length of your blowstick, pipe size, and general setup.