Best viewed in
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. Don’t adjust yourself to fit the pipes – adjust the
pipes to fit you.
It’s a balance between posture,
pipe bag size, blowstick length, diaphragm control, etc., etc., etc.
Here are a few things to keep in
Don’t blow out your cheeks (face cheeks that is) – 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.
Don’t blow pipes that are too strong for you – It’s 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. Don’t make it more difficult by playing reeds that are too
strong. Talk to one of us if you are having problems.
Don’t hold the mouthpiece at the corner of your mouth – 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 – your right elbow
(assuming you are right-handed) should be held away from the body in
a natural position. Don’t squeeeeeeeeeze the bag to maintain
pressure; maintain pressure using your diaphragm.
Don’t squeeeeeeze the chanter – you should be able to feel
the vibrations above each hole of the chanter.
Look straight ahead – with the blowstick in the middle of
Keep your eyes on the Pipe Major – when in the
Keep your head erect – not thrown back or twisted to the
Keep your body erect – but not stiff. Don’t turn towards the
PM in the circle; this affects the overall tone of the circle.
Your left shoulder will be higher than your right – again
assuming you are right-handed. Don’t overcompensate.
Make sure your chanter is in a comfortable position – 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.