Shirley Pipe Band

Learner Membership


We have a continuous process of training new members and always welcome anyone who has the desire to learn the requisite musical and marching skills to perform with the band. The only stipulation is that you need the capability to carry your instrument and march, and that you are prepared to commit the time necessary to learn. Learning one of our instruments is fun and it provides you with a lifelong skill. Out trainers are dedicated in helping people to learn.

We welcome people of all ages, though the ability to carry an instrument and march tends to restrict this to be from around 10 until the sixties. We are committed to providing a safe environment for younger members, as explained in our Safeguarding Policy.

Hunting Stewart Tartan - Shirley Pipe Band

Bagpipe tuition using Practice Chanters
Bagpipe tuition using Practice Chanters
Side Drum tuition using Drum Pads
Side Drum tuition using Drum Pads

Hunting Stewart Tartan - Shirley Pipe Band


We ask for a refundable deposit of £30 from any learner member, covering band equipment loaned during the learning period. After that everything is free: tuition is free, provision of instrument is free, and ultimately the band uniform is provided free. Your only non-returnable cost is your time!

Hunting Stewart Tartan - Shirley Pipe Band

Learning Process

We run training in each of the skill areas: for pipers; for side drummers; for tenor drummers; and less frequently for bass drummers and for drum majors / mace bearers. For each we have a defined training plan, detailing all the steps along the learning process and allowing progress to be monitored. Learners are assigned to tutors, and everything is overseen by a training co-ordinator. This may seem very formal for an amateur band but it reflects the reality that it takes a lot of time and effort by tutor and learner to become proficient in the instrument and it is in everyone's interest to maximise the return on this investment.

Each learner progresses through mastering rudiments for their instrument, learning tunes, and attending full practice meetings to learn marching skills. Once these are all mastered, a uniform is issued and the new member is unleashed upon the public.

Hunting Stewart Tartan - Shirley Pipe Band

Home Learning for Bagpipes

With the restrictions during the covid-19 pandemic it has been imposible to follow our normal procedures, so here is an alternative approach for anyone who would like to learn to play the bagpipes. You can take the initial steps at home, then contact us when you are ready to move forward.

The start point for bagpipes is to learn the fingering using a practice chanter, and it is possible to make a start by following a tutor book and online videos.

Practice chanters are available within a huge range of styles and costs, but this one makes a good start point and is available from a shop in Birmingham:
Bagpipes Galore Scottish ABS Practice Chanter

This is our recommended tutor book:
Highland Bagpipe Tutor 1 - Beginners

Supported chapter-by-chapter by this range of videos:
NB the videos support the tutor book. They do not remove the need for it.
The College of Piping Tutor One Videos

Note that although children often learn quicker than adults, small hands can struggle to reach the holes on adult practice chanters. Children come in many sizes but we have found that between ages of about 8 and 11 they may benefit from one of these (again, other manufacturers are available):
McCallum PC1 Junior Plastic Practice Chanter

Accuracy and repeatability are essential for a good piper, so it is important to take your time and to move forward only when you are certain you have mastered each step. By the end of lesson 5 you will have learned a simple tune, and this is a good place to make contact and progress membership to receive formal tuition.

Hunting Stewart Tartan - Shirley Pipe Band

Next Steps

If you are interested in becoming a learner member, check the details of our practices and contact our Secretary as detailed on the Contacts page, or contact

Hunting Stewart Tartan - Shirley Pipe Band

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