ANYONE CAN LEARN TO PLAY PIPES OR DRUMS
The Minnesota Pipes and Drums offer piping and drumming instruction free of charge to anyone who wants to learn - people of all backgrounds and levels of experience are welcome to join us. The band also accepts new members via audition.
Part of our mission is introducing a broad range of people to the instruments we love, which boast a rich cultural heritage.
Instruction is provided for the bass, snare, and tenor drums, and for the Great Highland bagpipe. Instruction in the art of the Drum Major is also available, and we encourage anyone who may be interested to volunteer as Color Guard.
OUR FREE INSTRUCTION PROGRAMS
Learn more about how you can become a part of the band
Great Highland Bagpipes
Bagpipe students start out their journey on a practice chanter where students learn basic finger techniques.
Eventually, students work their way up to playing on the Great Highland Bagpipes.
Snare and Tenor Drums
In our program, snare students learn drum rudiments in the style of traditional Scottish drumming.
Tenor drummers will learn the iconic art of flourishing: spinning their mallets while playing.
How long will it take me to learn to play?Typically we run two-year courses, which are broken down into 10-week quarters. This structure is designed to provide the basic elements of piping and drumming. Those who want to progress more quickly are encouraged to supplement the group instruction with private lessons. We can help you find a private instructor. PIPING STUDENTS ONLY The first four quarters of our program cover basic fingering technique on the practice chanter. Each quarter concludes with a brief evaluation to determine whether the student is ready to move on to the next level. Students may repeat each level one time. Students who are not ready to move on to the next level should seek private instruction in order to reach the requirements for their current level. After successful completion of the fourth level, pipe students will begin an additional year of study during which they will be taught how to care for, wrestle with and, finally, play the bagpipe.
What materials do I need to buy? Where can I buy them?PIPING Pipe students need to have a practice chanter and the exercise book Rhythmic Fingerwork by James McGillivray (both are available for purchase from the band). Eventually students will need to buy their own set of bagpipes (typically after 1-2 years of instruction on practice chanter). DRUMMING Snare drummers will need a drum pad and sticks, which may be purchased from the band. Tenor and bass students can borrow mallets from the band until they are ready to purchase their own. The band provides performance drums. RESOURCES Local: the Gillie Company - (952) 920-4267 Online: The Pipers Hut (www.pipershut.com)
When and where does the band meet?The band rehearses every Thursday at the St. Helena Catholic School in South Minneapolis. Lessons are scheduled from 6:00-6:30 pm. Full band rehearsal follows from 7-9 pm - students are encouraged to stick around to watch and listen.
Am I eligible to take lessons?All are welcome to participate in our instructional program, or join the band. We love new students and members! We typically recommend that new students have some previous musical background prior to joining our program, but that is not necessarily required. We have taught students of all ages and backgrounds to play bagpipes and drums.
How else might I get involved with the band?There are many roles and responsibilities to keep a pipe band running smoothly. Connect with us to learn more about open roles we may have available. Participating in the color guard is a great way for people to dip their toe into pipe band life. The color guard is part of many of our parades and performances and is an important component of our band presence. As a flag-bearer in the color guard, you'll have the opportunity to hear and move with the music before you actually play it.
How can I audition to join the band?To progress to the band performance circle, students must complete a successful audition for the Pipe Major or Drum Sergeant. Students and other members of the public may audition for the band at any time. Completion of our piping or drumming program does not require anyone to audition to join the band, nor does it grant a student band performer status.