Is learning to play bagpipes or Scottish drums hard?
Yes, it is. Someone playing the bagpipe must accomplish three main actions; continually blow the bag full of air, push the air out with the left arm (and continue to blow afterwards) and of course operate the chanter to play melodies. The melodies also have to be memorized and the marching has to be practiced. Generally you could state that the basic training lasts two to three years. You start using the practice chanter (which is far less loud than the full bagpipe). Afterwards you begin to expand your basic training. Younger people generally learn playing bagpipes faster than older people.
Playing Scottish drums is different from playing drums in a fanfare band. The basic technique is different (drum rolls are different and are played left), the musical lines are more complex, everything is played faster and the cooperation with the other drummers and the pipers is very important. Also the Scottish drum itself is different from regular drums. The Scottish drums have string tension and the skins are very tightly stretched. Every minor error is heard. Also the Scottish drums weigh more than regular drums. And as with everything there are fast and slow learners, both with the bagpipe and the drums. A sense of rhythm is required, being able to read music can be learned and therefore isn't essential.
How long does it take to become a piper or a drummer?
Everyone older than approximately 8 years old who is motivated can learn to play bagpipe or drums. The time you spend practicing and playing tunes is about half an hour a day. Very important at the beginning of the training is that you don"t see practicing as a liability! Your instructor tells you what exercises are important and how much time they may consume. One of the most important principles of the training, is that a tune must be played correctly on the practice chanter before it can be played on the actual bagpipes.
With this in mind, please don"t think you will be able to play bagpipes or drums within two months without any practice. Playing a Scottish Highland bagpipe or Scottish drums is hard, but definitely not impossible! The average amount of time before being able to independently play bagpipes is two years. A lot of people give up training quite fast, because they misjudge the amount of energy and time it takes to practice. Some have never been a member of a band or an association, and misjudge the weekly trainings, self-practice and the time consumed by the performances.
A frequently asked question (mostly from drummers), is whether or not it is helpful to already have played in a fanfare band or drum band. The knowledge of drums is helpful, but a lot of people find it hard to switch to the technique of Scottish drums. Our instructors are happy to tell you about these and other things. Make an appointment and come and see for yourself!
So what would I need?
If you decide to become a member of our band, we of course help you with buying a good practice instrument. For pipers this means buying a practice chanter, for drummers a set of drumming sticks and a practice pad. In our band all materials are bought in cooperation with the band management. The choice of materials is very important to the sound quality of our performances.
The uniform is mainly taken care of by the band. This means, that when you are able to perform at events, you receive the 1945 Canadian uniform. A number of things have to be taken care of by yourself, the so-called ‘’close to the body items’’. For our uniform these are the Glengarry or the Kilmarnock, the army boots, the green boot wrappings, khaki shirt etc. These articles you have to buy yourself and they belong to you.
Contact our secretary for an appointment on Tuesday evening.