Why not join us?
We are a friendly lot and always keen to see new faces. If you think you fancy having a go, then why not get in touch and give us a try?
If you are worried that you might live too far away, then please don’t worry – we have members who travel to practice from all around and we might well be able to give you a lift. We have members from as far away as Chard and Andover, Wimborne and Wincanton as well as Sturminster Newton and many other places.
Give it a try!
- No musical knowledge needed
- Don’t have to read music
- It’s different
- We need you!
- You get a terrific buzz when you play
Fancy a blow?
When you start to learn the bagpipes, you don’t start on the bagpipes themselves. You start instead on what is called a ‘practice chanter’. A practice chanter is a bit like a long recorder that you might have tried playing when you very first went to school but it’s a bit harder to blow. It is much kinder on the ears than a full set of pipes and easier to blow than a full set too.
Playing the bagpipes means that you have to play the ‘ordinary’ notes and at the beginning of course, that is what you learn, but what makes the pipes more interesting to listen to and to play is that there is a set of ’embellishments’ which are little short notes which you add in between the main notes. When a whole pipe band is playing the embellishments together it is a truly wonderful sound!
So, the way that it works is that you learn a few basic tunes and then learn a few embellishments and then, once you have mastered those, you will be ready to transfer to the bagpipes themselves.
that’s not to say that once you have got that far you can chuck away the practice chanter – far from it. Because it requires less ‘puff’ and is quieter than a full set of pipes, the experienced pipers teach themselves new tunes on the practice chanter and use practice chanters to learn to play tunes together before transferring to the pipes. Wives and girlfriends, husbands and boyfriends also like the practice chanter so you will be encouraged to use it a lot!
Fancy a bash?
If you don’t fancy playing the bagpipes, then we have three different types of drum that you can bash if you like. There’s a bass drum and at the moment we only have one bass drummer, which can make things tricky when he’s on holiday! We have tenor drums but only one tenor drum player at the moment so it would be good to have at least one more tenor drummer on board – tenor drummers are the most visually exciting part of the band because they create the most movement and having just one is almost sad because seeing tenor drummers playing together is fantastic. We have a total of four side drummers at the moment but we can’t all turn out to every event so we always welcome side drummers and we are really happy to teach you. We would like to try and teach all our drummers to play side drum, tenor drum and bass drum so that if any of us is away, then one of the others can take over. In practice, it doesn’t really work that well because we haven’t quite got enough drummers – but we might have if you come along!
You will no doubt have seen bagpipes being played on their own as a solo instrument but also at the Edinburgh tattoo or other military parades. Have you ever wondered how the bands manage to play together without a conductor? Well, the answer is that most of the time they are doing it by listening to the bass drum(s) but that only works for part of it. Bands need to be started and stopped and told where to march and where to turn. That’s where a drum major comes in. He’s the one at the front with the long stick (it’s called a mace). The Drum Major barks out the commands and, using the mace, signals to the band when to turn, which way to turn, when to halt, when to counter-march and signals to the bass drummer(s) when to start and stop the band playing. Gerry who is our Drum Major at the moment would love to teach you if you fancy having a go and the rest of us just have to do whatever you tell us to do because any of us that doesn’t sticks out like a sore thumb!
And one more thing…
Suppose you do fancy having a go but you’re worried about the number of events we play at – don’t! We are not professionals and so we do not expect to field a full band for every single event. Naturally, within reason, the more the merrier and we always try and field a full band whenever we can, but we do understand that you have commitments, whether it is school or college work, family commitments or perhaps you work shifts – it doesn’t matter!
We all have commitments of one sort or another and we cannot all make all of the dates – apart from anything else, most of the events we attend are in the summer when people are on holiday so we have to be flexible. Having said that, some of the events are more high profile and more prestigious than others and those we would really like you to attend but if you really can’t, we do understand!