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How To Play the Bagpipes

Learn to play the bagpipes and get everyone's attention, especially if you wear a matching kilt.


  • Step 1: Continue blowing to keep the bag filled. Press the bag with the left elbow while playing the chanter with both hands, using the finger placements you've practiced. Squeeze and blow, and repeat.
  • Step 2: Practice patiently for years, building your air and technique. Use the practice chanter rather than wearing yourself out.
  • FACT: The Antigonish Highland Games in Nova Scotia are the longest-running piping and highland games outside of Scotland, occurring annually since 1863.
  • Step 3: When playing the real thing, sling the drones over your shoulder and fill the bag by blowing into the blowpipe. Hold the chanter with the left hand. When the drones sound, the bag is full of air. Strike the bag and tuck it under your left elbow.
  • Step 4: Practice using the practice chanter: cover the bottom holes with the fingers of your right hand. Use your left hand for the top holes. Hold both hands firm, lifting fingers and covering holes to practice scales.
  • Step 5: Learn the parts of the pipe: the drones, blowpipe, chanter, and bag.
  • TIP: Use a practice chanter, which allows you to begin playing notes without having to contend with sustaining the air pressure of the pipes.
  • Step 6: Read books on playing the pipes and understand reeds. Even if you're an accomplished musician, you can save years of work by getting lessons from a qualified bagpiper.

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