Pipes Frequently Asked Questions
Are the bagpipes difficult to play?
Yes. Playing the bagpipes is not easy, since the instrument requires not only a grasp of technique and melodic fingering (on the chanter), but also a certain amount of physical strength and endurance (to fill up the bag and push the air through the reeds). You can learn to play the pipes just as quickly as any other instrument. Like any instrument, with the right amount of practice, private instruction and determination, learning to play the pipes can be accomplished. For more information, see our Parts of the Bagpipes section.
I played a wind instrument in high school, but have not played in a long time. I want to learn, but do you think I can do it?
Yes. Many people who have taken a lot of "time off" from any instrument have a renewed interest later in life, and many take up the pipes. This is often an advantage, since many adults have more focus and commitment than younger learners. Additionally, much of what many musicians learn can be applied to piping, and there are many similarities. It is often easier to learn the pipes, if one has a background or natural talent in music.
I have never played an instrument before. Can I still take lessons?
Absolutely. Many of our members started learning from "scratch" and have no prior musical background. In fact, many instructors prefer to teach those with no experience, since there are no bad habits to overcome. With the right determination, amount of practice, and qualified instruction, you can achieve your goals.
My son or daughter wants to learn. Is he/she too young?
The minimum age for learning to play depends on the individual child (as well as the instructor). Typically, the best age to start learning is about eight years old. This age is good because the child's hands are large enough to develop good technique, the child is a bit more focused, and the communication level is satisfactory for learning. Always encourage a child that is interested in music, no matter what the age. When music is introduced as young as possible, studies show that this will help the child to learn better and develop more quickly in all aspects of life.
I am an adult. Am I too old to learn?
Of course not. There is no "maximum" age to begin to take up the instrument. Many members learn and continue playing well beyond what many expect. All that is required is a good attitude, determination and quality instruction.
What will I need to bring to my lesson?
Your instructor will let you know just what to bring to your first lesson. Generally, you will need a practice chanter (and practice chanter reed) and the required tutorial book.
U.S. Coast Guard Pipe Band, Inc.
200 South Biscayne Boulevard
Miami, FL 33131-2332