The following are answers to frequently asked questions (FAQ):
How much does it cost?
The band charges a $30.00 lesson fee. Beyond this there isn’t a set price as it all depends on what you already have and how “fancy” you want to go. The band sells a starter kit containing a very good practice chanter and tutor w/ CD for $108.00. This is our cost and we pass on our free shipping discount to the student. If a student already has a decent practice chanter and the College of Piping Tutor Vol 1 (the Green Book) then they would not need to purchase this set up. If for some reason a student wanted to get a different brand of practice chanter or one made of a different material this could cost a little or a lot more depending on what they purchased.
What is included with the starter set the band sells?
The starter set contains the College of Piping Tutor Vol. 1, most commonly referred to as “The Green Book” along with its accompanying CD. It also contains a Dunbar Millennium “long” practice chanter made out of delrin (a type of plastic) with a Walsh PC reed. We chose this practice chanter due to its robust construction, ease of maintenance, play and tuning and because it is an instrument that you can reasonably expect to serve you well for your entire life. This kit is sold to us by the Universe of Bagpipes (http://hotpipes.com) and you can read a great deal of information on practice chanters in general and this particular instrument in specifics at the link above.
Do I have to purchase the practice chanter and green book from the band?
No, you can purchase it from wherever you would like or use one you already own. The band is not making any money from the sale of these sets and simply pass on our cost to the student saving them the cost and wait of shipping.
Do I need to purchase a bagpipe?
A beginning student does not need to purchase a set of pipes to begin with, in fact its strongly discouraged. The first reason is that you do not learn on the full pipes, you learn on a simple practice chanter enabling you to concentrate on learning proper finger technique and memorizing tunes. Only after you have mastered the basic fingering movements and have a number of tunes memorized do you begin to start to learn how to play the full set of pipes and then you start out small and work up. The second reason is that as a beginner you are not in a position to know what you want out of your bagpipes. Each manufacture, reed maker, pipe bag and chanter can have a different sound or feel and when you are starting out you have no reference to help you determine what you like or dislike in these and other areas of the instrument and its various components. Because of these reasons and the fact that a set up bagpipes can cost upwards of $800.00 for a low end beginner set the band will supply you with a loaner set when you get to that point in your learning. You can then play the loaned set until you can determine what instrument you want to purchase for yourself.
What am I going to have to do and what is expected of me as a new student?
You should be able to dedicate between 15 and 30 minutes a day to practice when you begin. As with all things, the more time you spend practicing a skill correctly the faster you will progress. Obviously we all have other commitments on our time such as family, work, friends, etc and we understand that these will most likely take precedence over your new instrument, but if you can’t find at least 15 minutes a day to spend practicing you are not going to progress at a reasonable rate and will soon find yourself lagging far behind the rest of the group causing unneeded frustration to yourself and the other learners. You should also be able to regularly attend the practice sessions. Currently these sessions are held on Thursday evenings at the Great Falls Scottish Rite. Again, we understand that you have other responsibilities that may cause you to miss an occasional practice and this isn’t a problem. Over all, learning to play a musical instrument of any type is a personal endeavor and you will get out of it what you are willing to put in!