Are There Monthly Dues?
Will There be Time Limitations for Me to Learn to Play?
Will I be “Kicked Out” if I Can’t Play Well?
How Long does it Take to Learn to Play?
What Music Must I Learn Before I Can Perform?
Do I Have to Compete with the Band?
How Much Practice Time will this Take Daily?
Expenses – How Much Will it Cost?
The philosophy of our band is that everyone donates his or her time to the band. The money from performances and Highland Games goes back to the band. Individual members don’t receive money for performances, but we don’t charge dues or fees either. We are a non-profit cultural corporation.
There is no time limit; you play when you are ready. Learning to play should be enjoyable, not stressful. Besides, most new pipers pressure themselves very effectively without any help from us!
Every band has players in all stages of development, so you will never be “kicked out” or made to feel bad if you choose not to be in the competition band, or because you are not progressing at a certain speed. Each member is free to choose the level he or she is comfortable with, and all members are encouraged to be the best they can be.
This is different for each member, and depends greatly on how much time you dedicate to studying and playing. You will never stop learning. In general, it takes several months to a year to apply the rudiments of piping and drumming to basic musical phrases. Most people study these rudiments a minimum of 6 months before they begin to play pipes or drums. Most beginners practice their instrument about a year before they can play well enough to perform. To progress rapidly you must have, above all else, SELF DISCIPLINE. You must commit to your lessons. You must have the discipline to practice your rudiments as well as learning new tunes and playing the instrument.
You will need to learn the Performance Sets, and then audition with the band to become a Performing Member.
Our band travels regionally to Highland games and competes in piping and drumming. Presently, we compete in Grade 5 with a mix of seasoned veterans as well as beginning pipers and drummers. Membership in the competition group is optional, and requires additional commitments from members, but provides musical challenges and fun!
Each person progresses at his or her own rate based on his or her ability and or practice time. The more you practice, the faster you progress. We recommend a minimum of 30 minutes daily if you can. As you begin to play pipes and drums, you will need time for practicing the rudiments, as well as extra [playing] time on your pipes or drum. It is better to practice a small amount every day rather than a large amount once a week. After a piping student gets onto the pipes, they must also blow them several minutes a day even if you can’t practice, just to keep the instrument in working condition.
The answer to this question is in several parts:
A new set of bagpipes (this does not include a case or bag cover) range from $825.00 on up–the Quartermaster can provide current price information. This seems high to some people. As an instrument it is not as expensive as a tuba or a grand piano, but probably more than a clarinet. Remember, pipes are not mass produced, and the best sets are made of African Blackwood. Sometimes bagpipes can be bought used, but there is a high demand, and they are hard to find.
You will need reeds for the instrument, and these are provided by the band at no expense in reasonable numbers. You will need woodwind bore oil, brushes, black wax, bees wax and hemp, as well as bag seasoning and drone plugs for maintenance. These items are relatively inexpensive and are usually bought either at the time you buy the pipes, or a little at a time. Drum sticks and a drum key are typical needs of a pipe band drummer.
3. What Will the Band Provide?
Guidance and Scholarships – The band will provide an environment to foster your musical development and enjoyment. It will supply you with the music that the band plays, and will provide you
with individual competition music if you wish. We have a library of pipe and drum music which you can copied at any time. We also issue scholarships for piping and drumming events such as seminars and workshops.
Limited Supplies of bagpipe reeds and drum parts – The band will supply each piper with 2 chanter reeds per year. For drummers, the band
provides all drum equipment except for sticks/mallets/beaters.
Uniform Kit for Performing Members – A uniform kit provided by the band consists of a muted MacKenzie kilt, sporran and sporran belt, flashes, hat badge and tie badge. Pipers are also provided with a pipe bag cover and cords. All of these items remain band property and are to be returned when you are no longer using them.
4. What the New Member Will Provide
Each member is responsible for obtaining: a glengary (hat), a shirt, kilt hose (knee-high socks), ghillies (shoes), and a jacket. A kilt pin with your family clan’s crest is optional as well as the sgian dubh (ceremonial dagger). We are a non-profit organization and have very limited funds, but we realize that all of the expenses can be overwhelming for certain people, especially at the beginning. We don’t pressure people to buy anything they can’t afford, and we try to lend available equipment whenever we can. Our goal is to help people join the band, and to this aim we assist wherever we can.