The Chicago Highlanders, like many pipe bands around the world offer free bagpipe and drum lessons to students interested in joining the band. If you are interested in pursuing bagpipe lessons or drum lessons, we’d love to hear from you!

Q: How long does it take to learn to play the bagpipes?
A: It really depends on the person, how much time you put into practice, prior musical experience, etc. but on average, someone could be playing a few tunes on pipes or drums within 6 – 8 months.

Q: What would I need to get started?
A: A piper starts on a “practice chanter” which has finger holes in the same positions as a full set of pipes. A drummer starts with a practice pad and sticks. Either investment is around $100. Practice chanters and pads are tools pipers and drummers will continue to learn on after becoming members of the band.

Q: Are bagpipes expensive?
A: A nice set is around $1,200. Of course, the fancier the set, the more expensive! A good used set is an option and can be found for less than $1,000. (The Highlanders have several sets available to loan to new students.) Price is not an indicator of sound quality, PLEASE… speak with an experienced piper before buying your set!

Q: Do I need to have previous musical experience?
A: It helps some people, confuses others! Many pipers and drummers have no previous musical background.

Q: How much practice does it take?
A: A good guideline is an hour per day but it doesn’t need to be done all at once! Several 20 minute sessions in a day can be very effective. If you’re struggling with something, putting your instrument down and coming back later may avoid frustration.

There are a number of ways to get bagpipe lessons, one thing we wouldn’t suggest is watching YouTube videos and expecting to become proficient! Some people will recommend getting a personal instructor and that is an option but likely the most costly. If you are looking for a bagpipe or drum tutor, we may be able to suggest someone, many instructors do pipe and drum lessons via Skype and this may work for someone who doesn’t have an instructor in their area. Another option is an online curriculum like Dojo University from Piper’s Dojo,, or RhythmMonster for drumming.

If you are contemplating bagpipe lessons or Scottish drumming lessons, please get in touch. The Chicago Highlanders offer free bagpipe and drum lessons in Palatine on Thursday evenings… stop in and say hello, our rehearsals are open to the public!

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