North Berwick Pipe Band

© 2013-2024 North Berwick Pipe Band

The band wants to hear from anyone keen to learn to play the bagpipes, snare drum, tenor drum or bass drum.


Tuition is provided free of charge and we can provide practice instruments for beginners to allow them to try out and see how the get on before committing to purchasing their own.

We believe that anyone can learn to play with us regardless of experience, age or musical ability, so if you are interested please do come along to one of our practices and try it out.

We meet every Wednesday evening 18:00 - 21:00hrs at St Andrew Blackadder Church Halls, St Andrew Street, North Berwick.

For Beginner Pipers…

Before you go out and buy something you don’t need, talk to us. For pipers, you don’t start out on the bagpipes…you begin on a practice chanter. A practice chanter is used by beginner students and advanced players alike. Practice chanters are used by beginners to learn techniques for fingering and blowing. Because pipers need to know their tunes by heart, practice chanters are also used when learning any new tune. Pipe band members practice together using practice chanters, both for practicing old tunes and for learning the tempo and notes to new music. Whether just beginning or an old pro, the practice chanter is essential in the musical progression on the bagpipes. For older kids and adults, a long practice chanter is generally recommended, because the finger hole spacing is more similar to that of on the pipe chanter on the bagpipes.

For Beginner Drummers…

Again, before you go out and buy something you don’t need, talk to us.

Frequently Asked Questions

What instruments are in a pipe band?

A pipe band is composed of bagpipes, snare drums, tenor drums (although this can comprise a range of drums from soprano to baritone as well as a tenor), and a bass drum.

What is involved in learning the bagpipes or drums?

Pipers start by leaning on a practice chanter, which is similar to a recorder, before moving on to a full set of bagpipes.  Snare drumming students learn with pipe band drumsticks and a practise pad, and tenor and bass students learn to play rhythms and flourish with mallets (beaters).  All students learn music theory and how to read and write music.   

How long does it take to learn the bagpipes or drums?

The time required to progress from practice chanter to bagpipes or practise pad to snare drum depends on many things, such as the previous musical experience, time spent practicing, and the capability focus of the student.  Therefore, progression can take anywhere from about six months to two years.

How old do I have to be to start learning?

A good age to begin learning to play the bagpipe or drums is 8 or 9 years old (this is when your hands/fingers are big enough to cover the holes in the chanter or hold the drumsticks), and there is no age limit to how old you can be to start learning.  Whether you are a kid, or just a kid at heart, the only thing you need is an open mind and a desire to learn!

What does is cost, and how do we raise money?


For new students the main cost is the purchase of practice equipment. Tuition is provided by the Band free of charge. Once playing with the Band they would be expected to pay the Band’s annual subscription, which is currently £75. This subscription is primarily used to cover the insurances required for the band and its members and maintenance costs for instruments and uniforms.

For more information on the cost of suggested instruments/materials or specific retailers, please contact us.


While the North Berwick Pipe Band is a charitable, non-profit organisation, it still takes money to run.  From uniforms, to instruments and maintenance, it takes a lot of money to run a band.  To raise money for these expenses, members are expected to participate in parades and other public/private performances.  Other funding sources include donations, sponsorship and in particular the fund raising events organised by the Band.

Are there opportunities to be involved as a non-playing member of the band?

Of course!  It takes a lot to run a pipe band. Aside from playing members, you can get involved in band leadership, fundraising, and performance assistance. If you are interested in ways to be involved in this organisation, let us know!

Bass drummers and tenor drummers use a different style of beater altogether and again advice can be given on what is appropriate.

Pipe Band drumming is significantly different than drum kit, marching band or drum corps. Like the beginner piper you don’t start out on a drum, you start with a pair of drumsticks and a practice pad. Again, talk to us before making a purchase as pads can range in price from a few pounds to over £100. The drumsticks that we use are of a different style to other forms of drumming. This is to maximise the response from the high-tension drumheads that are used. We would normally start with the same style of stick as we use on the drum. This is not essential to learn the initial rudiments but when progressing on to the drum the correct style of stick will be required. We can advise on what pad or drumstick to purchase or can arrange to obtain them for you.

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