Learn to Play Bagpipes

Book Cover of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

You Need to Get Organized in Bagpipe Practice! These apps will help.

I am constantly in search of ways to get more organized in my life and in bagpiping. Many times the two are the same. I am also constantly suggesting to students on the importance of getting organized. As a matter of fact, ’tis the season to rebuild your bagpipe goals.

I am in the midst of trying out and learning new tunes for the 2024 season for solos and the band, amongst learning tunes for gigs. I am memorizing 2 new piobaireachds. I need to mail a cracked bass drone stock to Canada on Sunday so that it will be ready when I get back from vacation. I need to get another set ready before I leave. I just started a bagpipe group for students in New York City on Monday evenings and I need to plan topics for those lessons. I also need to plan a recording project for my pipe band. Currently I’m writing a blog before publishing it to the website. When I return from vacation I need to oil a set. I later need to acquire a new set (I’ve decided to get a separate set for the band and my solo, which means more time is needed maintenance). This is aside from teaching and gigging and having a personal life. I keep busy…

I can’t stress enough how it’s important to get organized. You might even want to consider reading 7 habits of Highly Effective People, not only on how but why to get organized. After all, one day we are all going to have a funeral, and it’s best to get cracking before that day comes. In order to be effective in anything, especially bagpiping, organization is essential. As you try to master any skill in life, things get more difficult and complicated. I find those who do well, are those who persevere through the challenges. Organization helps one to manage through the chaos of these challenges.

After all, in the beginning a student is thinking about the fruit. Oh, I think it would be nice to play or learn the bagpipes. But as the student begins to learn, the obstacles set in. The more the student progresses, the more complexities they are introduced to. The student has to learn: how to play notes (while avoiding crossing noises), how to sight read, how to decode and play rhythm, how to play to a metronome (even how to program one), how to memorize. The list goes on. And I don’t even have to really mention about the high demands that the bagpipes have in terms of technique. Sometimes practice will even require greater time dedication from the student. Amongst all this it requires greater focus, which can be difficult in the age of technological distractions. Therefore you need to get organized to succeed in playing the bagpipes.

Many people give up because they’re too busy. And, sadly, people’s families and jobs will pull them away from creative hobbies they love. Of course, we all have our responsibilities, but it’s important for people to enjoy things they love. Even if you are slammed for time there’s always enough time; it just depends on your perspective. If you have the will, you can make it work.

The good news is that you can get organized. I find it to be fun.

I use these apps all the time to help me become a more effective bagpiper:

  1. Use Google Sheets to memorize your bagpipe tunes and keep track of your repertoire.
  2. Use Google Drive to keep your bagpipe music accessible.
  3. Use GeniusScan to digitize your sheet music (so you can add to step 2).
  4. Use a productivity app like Asana to manage your tasks and projects (whether for bagpiping or your life. The more your life is in balance, the more you can do your hobby).
  5. Use Pro Metronome to have with you a highly versatile metronome anywhere.
  6. Use a calendar app to keep track of your gigs, appointments, lessons, and deadlines. I use both Google Calendar and iCal.
  7. Use Anytune to help memorize bagpipe tunes (by listening to them) and go over tricky parts in a tune.
  8. Use Voice Memos (or Android equivalent) to regularly record yourself performing. Better yet, buy a microphone to better record yourself for a more accurate picture of your bagpipe sound.
  9. Use Notes to quickly jot down ideas or make a checklist (Android equivalent). For more complex ideas I’d use Asana (#4) instead.
  10. Use Melody ET to train your ear to recognize notes (a great skill to develop).
  11. Use Braw Tuner to help you tune the bagpipe chanter.

Published: November 11th, 2023

Happy Piping. Have any questions? Shoot me an email.