Online learning resources, be it courses, videos, written content, one-on-one coaching, apps, et cetera, provide fantastic opportunities to learn (and teach) how to play the bagpipes and understand music more generally. Though nothing truly beats dedicated in-person pipes lessons, there are plenty of excellent alternatives online.
Note that by “resources,” I'm not only referring to video tutoring and full-length courses (though these are arguably the best options). I'm also considering masterclasses, applications, videos and articles, and other online resources for learning how to play the bagpipes.
Though obviously subjective and prone to biases, I've done my best to list out these resources based on the following metrics (in no particular order):
- Reputation of the bagpipes learning resource
- Quality of education in technique, theory, and learning real songs
- Organization and depth of learning
- Adaptability of teaching to individual students (one-on-one lessons are best here)
- The resource must be currently available
With all that being said, let's list out the learning resources.
The top 11 best online resources to learn how to play the bagpipes are:
- Online Academy Of Irish Music
- Highland Bagpipe Academy
- Bagpipe Master
- Online Bagpipe Lessons
- Dojo University
- Apps Reeds
- Bagpipe Learning Centre
- Bagpipe Tuition
In this article, we'll go through each of the above-mentioned resources to get a stronger idea of what makes them great for learning the bagpipes. Whether you're a complete beginner or a successful professional, there is always something to learn! I'll include links to check out each of the options for yourself to learn more about bagpipes. We'll also consider a few “honourable mentions” worth considering.
Online Academy Of Irish Music
OAIM was founded by Kirsten Allstaff and Matthew Curley in 2010. Currently, the headquarters are in Doolin, Ireland.
The main foundation of this music school is the love for Irish music and its instruments. Indeed, this school in Doolin, Ireland, streams music classes to the rest of the planet, not only as a business but also to keep the green flame of traditional Irish music alive.
The institution offers classes on the most important Irish instruments, including the Uilleann bagpipes. These traditional instruments can be traced back to the original indigenous population of Ireland and have been a part of its culture and music for millennia.
The teaching for bagpipe players is divided into two levels. Tom Delany teaches the beginner-oriented course, covering the absolute basics of the instrument for those who pick it up for the first time. Following that course, you can enroll in Mikie Smyth's “Technique” course, which covers all the specific techniques you need to master to become a proficient bagpipe player.
If you are a self-disciplined student looking for self-paced material from one of the market's most prestigious Irish music institutions, you have to check OAIM out.
Highland Bagpipe Academy
The Highland Bagpipe Academy was founded by Peter Purvis. Currently, headquarters are in Ottawa, Canada.
Peter Purvis started playing the bagpipe when he was 12. By age 16, he was already playing the Highland bagpipes, Uilleann pipes, and the Irish whistle. As time went by, his family showed him uncanny support, and he took lessons with the finest bagpipe players in the region and the world.
These lessons, his talent, and a lot of practice and dedication allowed Peter to join Gaelic Storm, an international band with which he made 8 albums and 2 DVDs and toured the world for years. Moreover, Gaelic Storm's albums peaked on the World Music charts around the world.
Because of this experience playing live around the world and the years of training, Peter decided to give back to the bagpiping community by founding a school that could work as a one-stop resource for all things bagpipe. Moreover, he is the founder, owner, and star teacher at Highland Bagpipe Academy, Uilleann Pipe Academy, and the Tin Whistle Academy.
Peter Purvis is doing his part to keep Celtic music alive; if you want to follow him in that quest, you can enroll monthly and yearly.
Josh Anderson founded Bagpipe Master in 2014. Currently, headquarters are in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Josh started piping when he was only 9 years old and never stopped. So, he's had a lifelong relationship with the instrument that allowed him an uncanny level of insight for most players in the world. Moreover, he has been a sought-after session player for most of his adult life, so he has overcome all obstacles one might think of and learned a lesson every time.
With this huge baggage of experience and knowledge, he set out to create the kind he would have liked to take when he was growing up. Therefore, the 17+ hours of video, 100+ easy-to-follow videos with step-by-step lessons, 60+ sheet music downloads, and 40+ tune-specific tutorials are all you need to go from beginner to proficient in the quickest way possible.
As if this was little, the platform also offers access to a private community where over 700 like-minded students share their love for the instrument and build musical bridges. Finally, all material is available instantly and for a lifetime to members.
This is a must-check if you're looking for one of the most complete online resources to become a bagpipe master.
Online Bagpipe Lessons
Neil Hubbard founded Online Bagpipe Lessons in 2007. Currently, headquarters are in Seattle, Washington.
Neil Hubbard started playing the bagpipe when he was 12 years old, and his passion for the instrument never faded. He has been a professional player and teacher for 15 years and has been teaching the instrument for over 30.
During those three decades, he was able to teach King County Firefighters, Seattle Police, and the Seattle Firefighters, among many others, how to play pipes and drums properly. Plus, he teaches beginner, novice, intermediate, and advanced levels from his home studio and is constantly taking up new students.
Therefore, if you are after a pro teacher that can give you the kind of instruction that will make you a proficient player and also fall in love with the instrument, you have to check Online Bagpipe Lessons out.
Dojo University was founded by Andrew Douglas and Carl Donley in 2011. Currently, headquarters are in New York.
Besides being a two-time world champion (2017 & 2019) and a degree holder in Music Composition, Andrew Douglas is passionate about all-things-bagpipe. One of the commandments of his university is to practice immersion, which means you need to surround yourself with bagpipe music, images, and more.
But beyond his revolutionary approach to having his students reach the next level in piping, the Dojo University offers a plethora of free resources for aspiring bagpipe players to get started on the right foot. Moreover, besides the self-paced course, you have access to over 20 weekly classes where you can receive real-time feedback from professionals worldwide.
Finally, there are often guest master class teachers invited to the school who join a long list of notable handpicked teachers who can take any and all aspects of your playing to the next level.
Jori Chisholm founded Bagpipe Lessons in 1999. Currently, the headquarters are in Seattle, Washington.
Jori Chisholm is one of the few musicians on this planet who can claim to have shared the stage with Bob Weir, one of the masterminds behind The Grateful Dead. He's been featured in the New York Times as a “top-tier teacher” and called one of the world's “elite pipe players” by the American Profile Magazine.
But beyond his qualifications as one of the most sought-after pipers in the world, Jori is a passionate teacher that has satisfied the learning needs of over 4,500 students and counting. The 1200+ hours of online lessons taught by Jori in the past 33 years have given him a much more profound understanding of what players need and want to become proficient.
As a result, his online course is among the best in the market, with a plethora of downloadable resources and the possibility of getting online one-on-one lessons with the man himself through Skype, Zoom, or FaceTime.
If you're serious about your piping, you have to check Jori's site.
Chris Apps founded Apps Reeds in 1991. Currently, headquarters are in Union, Missouri.
Chris Apps is one of the biggest names in the piping world. He has devoted his life to making the perfect reeds for his favourite instrument. Moreover, he started playing at age 10 and joined the Scottish Piping Society of London at age 14, where he eventually became a judge at competitions. In the same vein, he played the Kansas City St Andrews Pipes and Drums Grade I band until he eventually retired from performing competitions. He can still be caught playing solo live shows for a select audience.
All the years he's devoted to playing and building the perfect reed are poured inside his private workshop, which can also include the entire band. Moreover, if you want to address your personal evolution with the instrument through online individual bagpipe lessons, Chris Apps also offers that on his website.
Therefore, if you want instruction from one of the most relevant and influential names in the bagpiping world, you have to check the Apps Reeds website today.
Bagpipe Learning Centre
Logan Leckie founded the Bagpipe Learning Center in 2010. Currently, headquarters are in London, England.
Logan Leckie grew up the son of a Pipe Major, so he was surrounded from day 1 by the sounds of bagpipes. Moreover, he received instruction from his father as soon as he could hold the instrument and blow.
By the time he wanted to connect to fellow musicians in 2010, he had realized there weren't any institutes or schools to learn proper Scottish-style bagpiping outside Scotland. Hence, he decided to open such a resource and utilize the wonders of modern technologies to erase barriers between highly-qualified, passionate teachers and avid students wanting to become proficient pipe players.
Nowadays, with a handpicked team of amazing teachers, Logan can teach the secrets and wonders of this ancient instrument to anyone in the world, regardless of their location.
Bagpipe Tuition was founded by Gary Nimmo in 2018. Currently, headquarters are in Falkirk, California.
Gary Nimmo has won 17 major titles as a bagpiper, among which he has won the World Pipe Band Championship four times. Moreover, he has competed and won titles in The United States of America, Canada, Germany, Australia, Brittany, and Belgium, among many others. Furthermore, he is still an active player as the Pipe Major of the Vale of Atholl Pipe Band and a member of the Breton Band Bagad Kemper in Quimper, France.
All of this baggage and experience blowing the bagpipe have given Gary a one-of-a-kind view of the instrument and the ability to help others in their musical journey with a plethora of different tools. More importantly, Gary is the director of a team of great tutors who teach classes on demand and provide Skype support for technical and playing difficulties. A system made for students to learn at their pace.
Finally, in the Tutor Book tab, you'll find several videos dedicated to mastering the exercises of the ABS Bagpipe Tutor Book, which are free to watch since they're posted on YouTube.
The Microsoft Corporation established TakeLessons in 2006 as a resource to link the best teachers with the most eager students.
TakeLessons is not only a website; it could be described better as a virtual, cloud-based marketplace where highly-talented and experienced teachers around the world offer their services to aspiring musicians, professionals, and hobbyists in a plethora of disciplines and instruments, including bagpipes.
The platform is backed up by one of the biggest software companies in the world. Thus, you can expect it to offer flawless performance and a very easy-to-use user interface that will help you in your musical quest instead of making it harder. Also, it is a place where you can find a group of teachers rated by their students with reviews included; therefore, you can get exactly what you need instead of a platform picking someone for you.
Finally, you can choose to have a solo or group lesson with any of the teachers on the website, and all you'll pay is the teacher's fee.
Lessonface was founded by Claire Cunningham and Ashford Tucker in 2013. Currently, headquarters are in Aiken, South Carolina.
After ten years of providing the world with teachers in a plethora of disciplines, Lessonface has harvested over 15,000 5-star reviews for its personnel. This means they are turning avid students into satisfied musicians by the thousands.
In Lessonface, once you sign in, you can find one-on-one and group live lessons rather than pre-recorded material. Also, you can pick from an always-growing roster of notables who you want your bagpipe teacher to be. Like in TakeLessons, you can see your future teacher's reputation and ask questions before booking any lessons. Furthermore, you can filter what you want to find, so the search is effortless.
Finally, Lessonface offers a 100% satisfaction guarantee. In other words, if your class wasn't up to your expectations, they can reschedule your class with a different teacher or issue a 100% reimbursement of your money.