Bagpipe for Beginners: Learn the Basic Scale on the Practice Chanter

Apr 16, 2023

Playing bagpipes is a beautiful art form that has been around for centuries. The sound of bagpipes is instantly recognizable and can evoke a sense of pride and patriotism in people. However, playing the bagpipes is not an easy feat. It takes dedication, patience, and a willingness to learn. The first step in learning to play the bagpipes is learning the notes. In this blog, we will dive into what the bagpipe notes are, why they are important, and how to play the bagpipe scale.

What are the Low Hand Bagpipe Notes?

Bottom hand notes refer to the five lowest notes on the bagpipe chanter, which are played with the right hand. These notes include Low G, Low A, B, C, and D, arranged in ascending order. Learning to play these notes properly is crucial as they form the foundation of the bagpipe scale. Without mastering the bottom hand notes, it is impossible to progress and play the bagpipes effectively.

Learn to Play Low G on the Bagpipes

To play Low G on the bagpipes follow these steps:

  1. Cover the back hole with left hand thumbs first pad.
  2. Cover the top 3 holes with the first pad of your left hand index, middle and ring fingers.
  3. Cover the 4th, 3rd and 2nd hole of the chanter with the second pad of your right hand index, middle and ring finger.
  4. Cover the bottom hole with the first pad of your right pinkie finger.
  5. Do not ever use the tips of your fingers
  6. Keep your fingers straight. 

Learn to Play Low A on the Bagpipes

To play Low A on the bagpipes follow these steps:

  1. Cover the back hole with left hand thumbs first pad.
  2. Cover the top 3 holes with the first pad of your left hand index, middle and ring fingers.
  3. Cover the 4th, 3rd and 2nd hole of the chanter with the second pad of your right hand index, middle and ring finger.
  4. Keep the bottom hole uncovered and pinky raised about 1/2 inch.
  5. Do not ever use the tips of your fingers
  6. Keep your fingers straight. 

Learn to Play B on the Bagpipes

To play Low B on the bagpipes follow these steps:

  1. Cover the back hole with left hand thumbs first pad.
  2. Cover the top 3 holes with the first pad of your left hand index, middle and ring fingers.
  3. Cover the 4th, 3rd and 2nd hole of the chanter with the second pad of your right hand index, middle and ring finger.
  4. Keep the bottom 2 holes uncovered and raise bottom 2 fingers about 1/2 inch.
  5. Do not ever use the tips of your fingers
  6. Keep your fingers straight. 

Learn to Play C on the Bagpipes

To play Low C on the bagpipes follow these steps:

  1. Cover the back hole with left hand thumbs first pad.
  2. Cover the top 3 holes with the first pad of your left hand index, middle and ring fingers.
  3. Cover the 4th, 3rd and 2nd hole of the chanter with the second pad of your right hand index, middle and ring finger.
  4. Keep the 2nd and 3rd hole uncovered and raise these fingers about 1/2 inch.
  5. Cover the bottom hole with the first pad of your right pinky.
  6. Do not ever use the tips of your fingers
  7. Keep your fingers straight. 

Learn to Play D on the Bagpipes

To play Low D on the bagpipes follow these steps:

  1. Cover the back hole with left hand thumbs first pad.
  2. Cover the top 3 holes with the first pad of your left hand index, middle and ring fingers.
  3. Cover the 4th, 3rd and 2nd hole of the chanter with the second pad of your right hand index, middle and ring finger.
  4. Keep the 2nd, 3rd and 4th hole uncovered and raise these fingers about 1/2 inch.
  5. Cover the bottom hole with the first pad of your right pinky.
  6. Do not ever use the tips of your fingers
  7. Keep your fingers straight. 

What are the High Hand Bagpipe Notes?

High hand notes, sometimes called top hand notes refer to the four highest notes on the bagpipe chanter, which are played with the left hand. These notes include E, F, High G, and High A, arranged in ascending order. Learning to play these notes properly is crucial as they form the foundation of the bagpipe scale. Without mastering the high hand notes, it is impossible to progress and play the bagpipes effectively.

Learn to Play an E on the Bagpipes

To play E on the bagpipes follow these steps:

  1. Cover the back hole with left hand thumbs first pad.
  2. Cover the top 2 holes with the first pad of your left hand index and middle finger.
  3. Keep your left hand ring finger raised about a 1/2 inch.
  4. Cover the 4th, 3rd and 2nd hole of the chanter with the second pad of your right hand index, middle and ring finger.
  5. Do not cover the bottom hole of chanter, leave pinky finger up about a 1/2 inch. 
  6. Do not ever use the tips of your fingers
  7. Keep your fingers straight. 

Learn to Play an F on the Bagpipes

To play F on the bagpipes follow these steps:

  1. Cover the back hole with left hand thumbs first pad.
  2. Cover the top hole with the first pad of your left hand index finger.
  3. Keep your left hand middle and ring finger raised about a 1/2 inch.
  4. Cover the 4th, 3rd and 2nd hole of the chanter with the second pad of your right hand index, middle and ring finger.
  5. Do not cover the bottom hole of chanter, leave pinky finger up about a 1/2 inch. 
  6. Do not ever use the tips of your fingers
  7. Keep your fingers straight. 

Learn to Play High G on the Bagpipes

To play High G on the bagpipes follow these steps:

  1. Cover the back hole with left hand thumbs first pad.
  2. Keep your left hand index, middle and ring finger raised about a 1/2 inch.
  3. Cover the 4th, 3rd and 2nd hole of the chanter with the second pad of your right hand index, middle and ring finger.
  4. Do not cover the bottom hole of chanter, leave pinky finger up about a 1/2 inch. 
  5. Do not ever use the tips of your fingers
  6. Keep your fingers straight. 

Learn to High A on the Bagpipes

To play High A on the bagpipes follow these steps:

  1. Uncover the back hole of the chanter.
  2. Keep your left hand index and middle finger raised about a 1/2 inch.
  3. Cover the 5th hole with the first pad of your left hand ring finger.
  4. Cover the 4th, 3rd and 2nd hole of the chanter with the second pad of your right hand index, middle and ring finger.
  5. Do not cover the bottom hole of chanter, leave pinky finger up about a 1/2 inch. 
  6. Do not ever use the tips of your fingers
  7. Keep your fingers straight. 

By committing yourself and putting in the effort to practice, you can become proficient in playing these notes on the bagpipes. You may want to consider enrolling in the Highland Bagpipe Academy, where I provide comprehensive instruction through step-by-step videos and interactive sheet music to make the learning process smoother. Keep pushing yourself to improve and continue to learn. Remember, mastering the bagpipes is a lifelong pursuit that requires persistence, but with dedication, you can reach your goals. Keep up the great work!

Don't miss a beat!

New moves, motivation, and classes delivered to your inbox. 

We hate SPAM. We will never sell your information, for any reason.