Jerry Finegan
404-314-1739
907 Northwoods Dr.
Cary, NC 27513
jerry@raleighbagpiper.com
Bagpipe Instruction
If you plan to go into the wilderness, then you must have a guide...

What To Look For in a Bagpipe Teacher
Whether you are a new student looking to begin learning the bagpipe or an experienced player trying to polish your skills with advanced lessons, it is important to get quality instruction. There are several things you can do to help you gauge the experience of potential teachers and these are listed here under "Selecting a Piper".

In addition to the technical requirements of any bagpipe instructor, you should seek out someone who has a genuine love of teaching. In addition to teaching bagpipes, I regularly teach computer programming (C# and .NET mostly). Over the years I have also taught CPR for the American Heart Association and I even taught Archery while I was a student at Emory University.

Individual Bagpipe Lessons
I have been teaching individual bagpipe lessons on a regular basis since I was a Freshman at Emory University. Over the years I have started many students off from scratch and helped them to become accomplished bagpipers. I have also taught many advanced bagpipe players who have succesfully competed in the upper solo competition grades. Many of my advanced students are bagpipe instructors themselves with their own students. All of my students are required to compete individually once they reach a certain level.

I teach out of my house which is located in Cary, North Carolina. Cary is located just West of Raleigh and South of Durham. Although most of my bagpipe students are from the Raleigh-Durham metro area, I have had students that came to me on a weekly basis from over two hours away. I also have some students who live outside of North Carolina and who take their lessons via Skype.

I have a dedicated room for teaching which provides plenty of space for playing on the bagpipes. I teach in the evenings and lessons are 50-55 minutes long. My students come to me on a weekly basis.

Tuition rates:
  • $25/lesson - Full Time Student
  • $35/lesson - Regular Fee
Please Note: My teaching schedule is now full and I am accepting new students by audition only.

Getting Started
Learning the bagpipe is highly rewarding, but it is something you do not want to try on your own. There are a lot of "gotchas" that one can encounter and those who are self-taught invariably develop bad habits which they must then unlearn. To get started you will need four things:
  • A Practice Chanter
  • A Tutor Book
  • A Metronome
  • An Experienced Bagpipe Instructor
The Practice Chanter is a smaller and quieter version of the melody pipe of the bagpipe which is fitted with a mouthpiece so that it can be blown directly (e.g. No Bag). A beginning bagpiper always starts by learning the scale, some embellishments, and then your first tunes. Only after you can play ten or so tunes by memory on the practice chanter do you progress to the full set of bagpipes. Please see the list of shops & makers on my links page for suggestions on where to purchase a practice chanter.

DO NOT buy a bagpipe before getting started with an experienced bagpipe teacher. Most of the instruments that you find on the internet and from general music stores are of poor quality and their low price may seem like a good deal at first, but it is not. Two hundred dollars is too much to pay for a wall hanger. Your teacher can guide you when the time is appropriate for you to purchase a set of bagpipes.

Am I Too Old To Start Learning?
Never. I once had a piping student who began learning the bagpipes at age 77. Yes, the younger you start the better, but it is not the only factor that plays into your potential ability to learn the bagpipes. There are five factors which determine how far someone will progress with the bagpipes.

Ability This is your natural talent for music.
Ambition How much do you want it? This is probably the most critical factor in determining how far and fast you will progress. You can have all the ability in the world, but if you never practice, well...
Instruction The better the instruction, the faster you will progress. Find a qualified bagpipe teacher.
Previous Musical Experience This helps in a myriad of subtle ways including reading music, ensemble playing, tuning your instrument, finger dexterity, and developing an ear.
Age If you are thinking about taking bagpipe lessons, then do not keep putting it off - learn now! It is well worth it!

Bagpipe Band Clinics and Workshops
I have regularly conducted workshops for bagpipe bands throughout the Southeastern United States. I was also a regular bagpipe instructor for the Southeast Workshop sponsered by the EUSPBA. Some of the topics and disciplines that I can teach for you are:
  • Reading Music
  • Band Ensemble
  • Band Unison Playing
  • Band Tuning & Tone
  • Execution and Technique
  • Musical Expression & Phrasing
  • Attacks & Cut-Offs (e.g. Starts & Stops)
  • Blowing Steady
  • Tuning your Chanter
  • Tuning your Drones
  • Bagpipe Maintenance
  • Musical Composition
  • Writing Harmonies
  • Working with Bagpipe Reeds
  • Music Theory
  • History of Bagpiping
  • Playing the Bagpipes with Other Instruments
  • Preparing Yourself or Your Bagpipe Band for Competition
  • Teaching the Teacher - Tips for the Bagpipe Instructor
  • The Professional Bagpiper - Tips for the Bagpipe Performer
  • Piobaireachd
Remote Bagpipe Instruction over the Internet
I offer remote instruction over the internet for those students who cannot come to me on a regular basis. This is very effective for those people who do not live near a qualified instructor, especially when combined with a periodical face-to-face lesson. All you need is a webcam and a Skype account.


One of my younger students who is trying the bagpipes for the first time. Click here to see a picture of this same student competing at the Loch Norman Highland Games in North Carolina.


Some of my students, "Jerry's Kids", displaying their medals won during the solo bagpipe competitions at the 1990 Grandfather Mountain Highland Games. Left to Right: Chris Martin, Morgan Beasley, David Jewell, Wendy Hembree


Teaching a workshop for the Heart of Georgia Pipe Band in Centerville, GA


Teaching officers from the College Park Police Department, College Park, Georgia


Two students at a workshop going over music.