Who would have thought one of the HIGHLIGHTS of my big European adventure was an hour long session indoors learning how to play the bagpipes! When I went to Scotland, I tried the haggis, sipped on whisky, walked around EdFringe and tried to embed myself into the culture as much as possible. But, I have to say, it wasn’t going to happen unless I understood how bagpipes worked! After exploring Edinburgh, I happened to be in Glasgow during the annual National Piping festival called Piping Live! and the streets were jam packed with pipers from around the world showing off their skills. I heard them playing on nearly every street corner and naturally became interested in learning more. I then discovered that you can go to the National Piping Centre in Glasgow, Scotland and sign up for a “Come and Try Session” and learn it yourself – I was SO excited!


For only TWO pounds, you can sign up for an hour long beginner session to learn how to play the bagpipes. That’s right, £2! If you have more time on your hands and really want to learn, they also have classes that deep dive into learning more about the instrument and how to play.

For beginners, you are welcomed by a Scottish bagpiper and given a tour of The Museum of Piping (attached to the main center and also where the class is).  Then, “a full demonstration of the bagpipes will follow along with an opportunity to learn, play and have fun with this challenging instrument.” You end up learning notes G, A, B and C and the instructor goes around the room for everyone to practice and share what they’ve learned. I had such a blast learning how they work especially because I know how to play the flute and I like the sounds of wind instruments. Flutists cover each hole with fingertips, but pipers actually lay their fingers across the holes (in a lazier fashion) covering each hole with the middle of the finger! So that was a bit new for me – I kept wanting to cover it with my fingertips, the instructor could even tell I was a flutist because I kept doing that 🙂 Eventually though, I got the hang of it! A nice thing about this class was that the instructor wouldn’t move to the next person till they got the note or understood the chord.

If you have plans to visit Scotland, I highly recommend a trip to Glasgow and an hour of your day to learn this confusing yet really fun wind instrument!

Have you ever been to Glasgow and did you get a chance to visit the National Piping Centre? Are you a bagpiper and would you recommend this beginner class to those interested in learning? Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section.