Published: December 31, 2001

Teach your children well

The Highland Bagpipe Tutor Book
The National Piping Centre, Glasgow, Scotland
30-34 McPhater Street, Cowcaddens, Glasgow G4 0HW Scotland

Reviewed by Ken Eller

I have just spent the best afternoon in my office of my entire career, and I owe it to Roddy MacLeod and those who fostered the successful establishment and enduring legacy of the Centre for pipers in Scotland and around the world.

So impressed with the latest of bagpipe tutors, I abandoned my daily routine and sat behind the computer with book in hand. I first scanned the chapters and their logical order for the beginner. Upon a more intense research of the pages, I examined all exercises, tunes, literature, historical notes, etc.

Now, I have been a teacher by profession for 30 years, and have never discovered a book so well laid out, logically chaptered and neatly presented as this. Then I put the CD into my computer. videos of Roddy MacLeod playing the exercises and the tunes, support graphics of the music being played using the bouncing ball of Piobmaster software to follow the written score . . . and more: templates for the instructor to print, lesson plans, progress tests, exercises and music. And get this: the music plays back at any tempo you wish, either with the sound of the practice chanter or the sound of the pipes themselves.

The tutor is more than just a “how to do it” compilation. How many times have you as a student or a player wanted to know about the tunes or their composers? Well, there are even photos of the greats, with their tunes, like P/M William Ross, P/M John MacLellan, Dunoon, and P/M William Robb, the composer of “When the Battle is O’er,” and pictures of events and Highland scenery depicted in many of the tunes.

This is a complete tuition and entertainment package. Technique is explained in a concise fashion, reinforced by the video. Free of typos and notation errors, the tutor explains the instrument, its structure, set up, the pipe scale, other instruments and much more. It is certainly an all in one instructional device, featuring gloss packaging and a photo of Pipe Major Angus Macdonald on the cover.

Perhaps David Murray best describes the format when he states, “The way in which each lesson leads into a wee tune is first class . . . the tutor is a masterpiece.”

Buy it, use it, display it, share it with your students and have them purchase it. It is available on line at www.thepipingcentre.co.uk or from your regular music supplier. The Highland Bagpipe Tutor Book has taken the medium of instruction into the new millennium.

Ken Eller’s fame was gained from leading the Clan MacFarlane Pipe Band for nearly 20 years, establishing it as one of the world’s great bands. In great demand as a teacher and judge, he currently plays with the 78th Fraser Highlanders and lives in Fonthill, Ontario.

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