Answers to Your Bagpipe Questions -

Answers to your Bagpipe Questions

by Jori Chisholm, Founder of
Last Updated: May 1, 2024

In this live video, I answer questions I’ve received over time via email, social media posts, about many important bagpipe topics. 

I started 25 years ago with the simple goal to provide high-quality information and inspiration for anyone, anywhere in the world who has a dream to learn to play the bagpipes. Thanks to your support, my business has been able to grow and help thousands of pipers of all levels. Join me and help me determine the future direction for Thank you!

Watch the video and scroll down to read the full video script.

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Video Transcript:  Hey everybody, Jori Chisholm here. Happy Friday afternoon to you. I just thought I would hop on the channel here and do a live video just to catch up and let you know some of the things that are going on around here at 

And what’s coming up in the future, I’ve had a little bit of a busy month with some traveling, but should be back here for the next little while until my kids are done with school in June. So I did one of these live videos back in March, and I thought I was going to get on and just talk for 10 minutes about the future of the channel and some of the stuff I have planned for website and products and YouTube channel. 

And I ended up talking for over half an hour, so I’m not going to do that today. I’m going to keep it to hopefully around 10 or 15 minutes here, but I wanted to give you a couple updates quickly. Last month, I launched my masterclass, which is Bagpipe Essentials Masterclass, 31 videos on all the essentials of bagpipe technique. 

So this will take you all the way from the very beginning if you’re just starting out on your practice chanter through the basic notes of the scale, how to put your hands on the chanter, all the way through gracenotes, doublings, all of our embellishments. 

Our nine doublings are for low G-based movements, which are grip, taorluath, birl, and D-throw, crossing noises. So that has been very popular since we launched that. So check that out at

If you’re a beginner, it’s perfect for you. If you have some experience and you’re just looking to get a more solid understanding of all your embellishments and how to play them perfectly, check out the Masterclass. 

Links to everything I talk about I’ll add to the description below, that’s Another thing that we launched this past month was a new deal on the Infinity chanter.  (So excuse me if you’re on my email list or you follow on social media) you know that I’m a big believer in the Infinity chanter from R .G. Hardie.  This is an amazing pipe chanter.  Yeah, I got one right here. It’s an amazing pipe chanter and what I love about it is the amazing sound and the smaller holes.  So especially on the bottom hand the holes are way smaller than a lot of other chanters on the market and the smaller holes makes it easier to play, feels more comfortable, and all of your execution is cleaner. And I really mean that, so if you’ve been playing a chanter with larger holes, when you try this Infinity chanter, you’re just going to be shocked in a good way about how good it feels.  The Blackwood version of the Infinity is the most comfortable chanter I’ve ever played. 

They add a little extra feature to the Blackwood chanter that they don’t on the plastic one, which is they round out. They sand off the edges of the holes, so it’s very smooth. And it feels like a chanter that you’ve been playing for years.  It has that really nice broken-in feel. And this Infinity chanter, when you first play it, you’re just going to love it. And so much so that you may not want to play your other chanters again. And so just have that warning. 

So what we announced this year on the shop is that you can now get a Tone Protector at a discounted price when you buy it with your Infinity chanter. So we’re selling tons of these already. 

So go to, and that will take you to the Infinity chanter page. There’s three choices. You can get the Blackwood Infinity chanter, which is the top of the line chanter.  You can get the Poly Infinity chanter, which is this plastic one. And they make a special one in poly, which is B flat. So I’m going to be working on an email and a video about this whole idea of playing in B flat. 

But if you want to play with other instruments that have a fixed pitch, like piano, guitar, organ, orchestral instruments, you’re going to want to have a fixed pitch chanter. So it’s a special chanter where when you play low A, it matches the exact note of B flat on those other instruments. 

So you can get the poly one, the Poly Infinity chanter in B flat, and you probably want to get the drone reed extenders for that. So I’m going to make a whole new video on that, but we’ve been selling a ton of those too. 

And now you can add a Tone Protector, a humidity controlling chanter cap to your Infinity and get a good deal on it. And then finally, I just want to remind everybody about my Inner Circle.  Two main things with that, you get access to my weekly live Zoom classes that I do, and you can just join those live on Zoom. And we record all those and started these in 2020. 

So we are well into the hundreds of these classes that have been recorded and you can go back and watch them. And then we also have a lesson library where we have all the recorded lessons and all my other materials and hundreds and hundreds of lessons on there and every piping topic. 

So you can get all that for a really good deal. Go to And I would love to have you as a member of my Inner Circle. So, okay, got that out of the way. So what I want to do today is just, I haven’t prepared at all other than I have a list of questions that people email me through my website or through Facebook. 

And I’ve been collecting all these emails with questions and then responses. And I thought I’d just go through some of these. And I won’t mention people by name, of course. But I thought it would be really helpful because we do get some of the same questions that keep coming back, common issues. 

So we’re just going to kind of start at the top here, some of the most recent ones. So somebody writes, as a beginner and of an older age, I’m finding that trying to be consistent with my training approach, as there is so much information that is different, and try to dismiss what is not relevant at this early stage of my training. 

So this is in response to an email that I send out to people when they’ve downloaded one of my free guides. And if you go to the Learn page,, you’ll see links to a whole bunch of free guides:  how to get the most out of your online lessons, stuff about tuning, stuff about tone, blowing, how to avoid mistakes, that sort of thing.  They’re all free, so you can sign up and click those links and you’ll get those free guides emailed to you. But in one of those emails that I send out to people who download these guides, I’ll ask, what are your biggest piping challenges? 

(I) get some really good responses and those, in addition to responding and being able to help those people with their questions, that really helps me, as an instructor, find out what people are struggling with and what questions people have. 

So if you’re a beginner at an older age, how do you cut through all of the noise and all the information and focus on what’s really important? So the great thing about the internet is that there’s a lot of information out there, but that’s one of the challenges. 

So what you need to do at a beginning level is focus on building a solid foundation. And what that means primarily is, at the practice chanter stage, is making sure you have good clean technique with good form.  And good form means keeping your hands as relaxed as possible and keeping your fingers in as close as possible to the chanter. 

So not tight and not fingers high. You want the fingers in nice and close and keep them relaxed. It’s very important to do this at the beginning stages because as you progress and as you learn more embellishments and more tunes, your foundation of technique that you set at this early stage will continue. 

So I’ve met all kinds of pipers at different levels of their piping career where they’re having to go back and relearn and undo bad habits and go back to the basics. So that’s what I would recommend. 

I mentioned earlier my Bagpipe  Essentials Masterclass. I think that’s a great place to start. It goes through all of the basics of technique. You have that class, and you go through those videos, these really high quality videos, 31 of them, you are going to have a very good understanding of bagpipe technique.  And you’ll be able to know that you are practicing your basic technique correctly, and that’s going to give you a lot of confidence. 

You don’t need to keep looking on YouTube for stuff, for free stuff, that will give you what you need to start on the right path. You do want a teacher, but if you don’t have a teacher and you want to focus on getting a solid foundation, check out my masterclass. 

Next person says, I really struggle with keeping my gracenotes short, reading music and getting the most out of my movements, any suggestions, so that’s a bunch of different things. Gracenotes need to be really, really small, that’s the key. 

Tiny gracenotes, not big gracenotes. One of the earliest videos on the YouTube channel is called Secrets of Top Pipers, and it’s all about gracenote size, so check it out. Really the difference is, do you want a gracenote to be just a little tiny blip, or do you want to have a giant gracenote? 

And so watch that video. Anyone who’s told you that you need to keep your gracenotes big, so that they’re clear, that is not the secret. The secret is tiny gracenotes, and the way you do that, you keep those gracenotes short, is by keeping your hands relaxed and keep bringing them in close to the chanter. 

It’s a mistake to try to make them small by putting a lot of muscle or a lot of tension into it, so keep them small. Reading music is a whole other challenge. What I recommend that you do, is that you start with your simplest exercises, whether you’re getting your exercises from your teacher or you’re working your way through one of these piping books, go back to the beginning from the simple single note exercises or basic gracenote exercises and follow along and read. 

Even if you have the exercise memorized, I think that’s how you learn to read music:  you follow along with your eyes and you struggle through it. I’ve seen people that write the letters, the names of the notes under the notes of the sheet music. I recommend you don’t do that. That will help you in the short term, but what you’re doing is you’re basically translating the sheet music into letters and then you’re just reading the letters. So I don’t let any of my students do that and I encourage them to just go for it and practice reading the music from the notes without writing the letters in. 

It’s amazing how fast it goes. You’ve got to stick with it. Do it every day. Do it for five, 10, 15 minutes every day. And it gets better. And anyone that I meet at a workshop, or if they come to me after doing this letter writing thing for a while, I just say, OK, that’s fine, up to this point. 

But from now on, with any new tunes that we’re going to do, we’re not going to write those in. And it’ll be a little bit of a struggle and adjustment period, but it’s worth it for sure. 

Another person said, my piping goal is to get worse as slowly as possible.  In other words, what are some effective strategies to avoid or mask the inevitable age-related declines in finger speed and agility, accuracy, in finding and covering the chanter holes? Yeah, so this is a great question. 

As we progress through life, and get older, there are lots of things that happen. And one of the things that can happen is you can lose some finger dexterity. This is why it’s so important, regardless of the age that you’re at, to focus on having good form. 

Even if you’re a young person and you have great finger dexterity, you will be better. You’ll be able to play cleaner and faster with more consistency if you have good form. It’s important for every age. 

So again, keeping the fingers and the hands as relaxed as possible and keeping the fingers in close to the chanter. That’s the key for every age. That allows you to play in a way that is more conducive to longevity and consistency and overall health. 

When we talk about ergonomics, we’re talking about how to take a physical object, a tool, or a piece of equipment, like a piece of sports equipment, or a piece of musical equipment, like your pipes or your chanter, and how to play.  How can you make it work with your body in the most biomechanically friendly way? And that’s what ergonomics is, and that’s also the foundation for why we want to have good form, so that we can play what we want to play in a way that works most efficiently and effectively with our hands, and our instrument, and our body. 

Okay. Thank you. Here’s a question. The person says their biggest challenge is setting up the bagpipes and tuning the drones. So that is a huge topic. I could talk for hours on that topic, but I would say check out a couple of the videos on the YouTube channel. In particular, check out the ones about tuning the drones with the InTune mic. Now, I know a lot of people want to be able to tune their drones by ear the old-fashioned way. Nothing wrong with that. 

That is a skill that can take a lifetime to master. It’s worth learning how to do it, but in my experience, the fastest way to learn how to tune your bagpipes on your own is using a tuner and a microphone.  So check out my InTune Mic, and check out the videos on the YouTube channel about how to use the InTune Mic and the Braw Tuner with your smartphone to get your pipes in tune. Everybody loves to play their pipes so much more when they’re in tune, and the InTune Mic and the Braw Tuner will help you do that. 

It will also help you refine your ear so that you can tune your pipes on your own. I was talking to a student recently, and he was playing his pipes for a very good piper, and the very good piper said, wow, your pipes sound really great. 

Did you tune them on your own? He said, I did using Jori’s InTune Mic and the tuner, and he said, I got them really just about as perfect as I could, and then I just, using my ear, I just did a fine tuning adjustment on the bass drone, and that was perfect. 

So I thought that was a great example of how using your smartphone and the mic and the tuner can help you get your pipes in tune fast, and also helps you develop your ear, because he’d been practicing with the tuner and the mic for several months now. 

He was able to hear that little difference of that bass drone, and he was able to make that little adjustment there. I also have some videos on the YouTube channel about setting up drone reeds and also setting up and choosing chanter reeds, so check that out. 

Setting up bagpipes is a huge topic, and I’ll be making more videos on this topic, but really it’s making sure your pipes are airtight, making sure that your drone reeds are operating properly, and that’s a big topic. 

Sometimes you just need new drone reeds, so check out the drone reed video. And then probably the most important component of the bagpipe sound is the chanter reed itself. So watch the chanter reed video.  It’s all about picking chanter reeds, adjusting the strength of chanter reeds, and the crucial importance of the moisture content in that chanter reed and what you can do to stabilize it using a Tone Protector or my Tone Protector Reed Case

So that’s a really important video to watch in terms of making sure that your chanter reed is operating correctly and efficiently. Also you can check out the video on Blowing Steady. That’s not exactly the same as setup, but if you’re talking about what are the things we can do to make our pipes comfortable and sound great and stay in tune and efficient, check out the video on Blowing Steady because that’s the big part of the tone production of the bagpipes is the blowing and the squeezing. And also with my Bagpipe Gauge, you can use it to get a reading for how hard your pipes are. So often, pipers have this question, something doesn’t feel right about their instrument, is it something wrong with my bagpipes or is it me? 

So when I’m working with a student remotely and they have that question, the first thing I ask them is, well, what does your Bagpipe Gauge show you? Because the gauge will show you if you’re steady with your blowing, but it’ll also give you a measurement for how hard your pipes are. 

And if your pipes are reading 35 or something, I would say, there’s something wrong with your pipes. Your reed is too hard, or there’s something that’s leaking. Or on the other hand, if it’s giving a good reading, say in the upper 20s or low 30s, then you know that the pipes are probably okay. 

Maybe you need to practice more. Maybe there’s something that we can optimize with your technique. So anyway, let’s just wrap it up there for today. Thanks to everybody who’s watching live. And if you’re watching on the replay and you have a question, just shoot it in the comments. 

I will keep an eye on this comment thread and I’m going to be doing more of these live Q &A kind of deals coming up soon here. And I will answer your questions there. Check out That’s the learn page. It’s got links to my videos and my free guides and check out the page for Tone Protectors and Bagpipe Gauges and InTune Mics and all the great equipment. 

And we’re getting new members signing up for my Inner Circle every day. So check out my Inner Circle membership with my live online group classes and a massive lesson library with, I mean, I haven’t counted but hundreds, I would say thousands and thousands of hours of content on there for you to enjoy on every piping topic. 

So check that out at And finally, make sure to subscribe to the YouTube channel. Every time, if you like my videos, and you like this one and you like my other videos, subscribe because that helps YouTube know that you like my videos and it helps promote my videos to other pipers like you who might like them. 

So, I appreciate it. Thanks very much. Have a great weekend. Happy piping. Thank you. 

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