Are you interested in playing the Highland bagpipe or learning Scottish drumming? We invite students of all ages to take group lessons with a member of Silver Thistle Pipes and Drums!

Many of our current competition band members began their study as adults. No prior musical experience is necessary, although it is helpful. With dedication and determination, you too can learn a new instrument!

Lesson classes meet one evening per week. There are five different levels for pipers and two levels for snare, tenor and bass drumming. For pipers, Levels 1-3 are on the practice chanter, moving through the scales, rudiments and some simple tunes. Level 4 brings the budding piper to memorization of the basic band tunes and learning how to handle the full highland bagpipe (also known as the octopus). Level 5 pipers learn to play the basic band tunes together in preparation to moving to the B band, which competes in grade 4 contests. Pipers can then move up to the A band, which competes in grade 3 contests.

Scottish snare has lots of similarities to American (DCI): both are heavily rudimental and take much practice to master. Rudiment examples: closed-roll, tap-roll, drags, flams, paradiddles, ratamacues, flam-triplets. American: More wrist, arm movement. Flashier. Higher tempos. Typically matched grip, heavier sticks, open rolls. Scottish: Lighter touch; still use arms/wrists, but emphasis on finger control. Focus on musicality of scores and adding dynamics to pipe tunes (bagpipes have no volume control!). Traditional grip, more closed rolls, tap-rolls, dead stick drags, etc.

The midsection is composed of a bass drum and multiple tenor drums. Midsection scores provide the fundamental rhythmic glue that ties the ensemble sound together, but can also provide melodic and harmonic depth to the tune. Midsection drums are tuned carefully with the bagpipes to complement their sound. Bass primarily establishes downbeats and emphasis of particular beats, with strong/weak patterns. Some mallet flourishing. There are often 3 or 4 drum sizes, tuned to play the notes A, E, and C, in tune with the pipers. Tenors provide rhythm, melodic accents, and a can also involve very complex mallet flourishing.

Students are responsible for purchasing practice chanters, the beginning piping tutor, drum sticks, pads and tenor and bass mallets.

Beginner lessons for pipers Levels 1-4 and drummers Levels 1-2 are $150 per four-month interval. There is no charge for experienced players who are ready to learn competition sets and compete with the band. Beginner students are evaluated at the end of each trimester to determine if they are ready to advance to the next level. The trimesters begin on the first Monday of January, May and September, barring holidays.

Please contact us for additional information. We look forward to hearing from you!

Pay your tuition online ($150):