How to Hold Bagpipes

Updated March 16, 2017

People often associate bagpipes with Scotland, and conjure up images of a large, bearded man in a kilt blowing into a strange contraption. But according to, bagpipes were also used by ancient civilisations, including the Roman infantry. Bagpipes consist of four main parts: a hide bag, a chanter (the flute of the bagpipe), the mouth piece, and a set of three rods (one called a pin and two called drones). If you want to learn to play the bagpipe, you must hold the instrument properly.

Position the back of the hide bag (the side opposite of the chanter stock) into your left armpit (reverse the bag if you are left-handed). With your left elbow parallel to the ground, squeeze your left arm over the hide bag with enough tension to fill the bag with air but not to drop the bag.

Place the pins and the drones over your left shoulder. Put your mouth onto the mouth piece.

Hold the chanter with your right and left hands. Your left hand controls the notes on the upper area of the chanter; your right hand controls the notes on the bottom end. Blow into the mouth piece and squeeze air through the bag while playing notes on the chanter (play the notes like a flute or recorder).


Learning the bagpipe takes time, skill, and lots of practice and study. Seek out an experienced bagpiper and learn from him or her.

Things You'll Need

  • Bagpipes
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About the Author

Based in Traverse City, Mich., George Lawrence has been writing professionally since 2009. His work primarily appears on various websites. An avid outdoorsman, Lawrence holds Bachelor of Arts degrees in both criminal justice and English from Michigan State University, as well as a Juris Doctor from the Thomas M. Cooley Law School, where he graduated with honors.