The Great Highland Bagpipes are a powerful and evocative instrument. Although there are only nine notes, the amount of music written for it is staggering.  If you are interested in learning to play the bagpipes, the first thing you need to know is that you don't need a set of bagpipes. Do not rush out and buy a set of bagpipes. We will begin discussing your instrument purchase 6-8 months into your lessons.  There are a lot of bad bagpipes on the market and I've seen a lot of people buy useless instruments. So what do you need?

To begin learning to play the Great Highland Bagpipes you will need:

  1. A practice chanter and several reeds
    • If you have large hands, you should ask for a "long" practice chanter. By "large", I mean anything that isn't small.  So unless you have small hands, get the "long" practice chanter.
    • If you already play a wind instrument, you may want to ask for an Abbot reed with you beginner kit.  They're a little more tolerant for people who already have well-developed breathing skills (i.e. trombonists, clarinetists, trumpeters, etc.).
  2. A  lesson book.  We will use The Highland Bagpipe Tutor Book One formerly known as The College of Piping Highland Bagpipe Tutor Part 1 which is affectionately known as The Green Book. The Green Book comes with a CD with audio examples and worksheets. Please print the worksheets, place them in a 3-ring binder and bring them to all lessons.

Later, we will also use The College of Piping Essential Tunes for the Piper (Volumes 1 and 2) for supplementary material.

Take the First Step…

If you are ready to schedule your lesson, please contact Dr. Berlin. There is a VERY limited amount of openings each new term, so don’t delay.

To the make of a piper (excerpt)
by Neil Munro

To the make of a piper go seven years of his own learning,
and seven generations before.
At the end of his seven years
one born to it will stand at the start of knowledge,
and leaning a fond ear to the drone
he may have parley with old folks of old affairs.

Tutor Book 1 repertoire includes...

Scots Wha Ha'e, Brown Haired Maiden, High Road to Gairloch, Highland Laddie, Mist Covered Mountains, 79th's Farewell to Gibraltar, The Earl of Mansfield, The Inverness Rant, The Piper of Drummond, Green Hills of Tyrol, and The Atholl Highlanders.

Essential Tunes Book 1 repertoire includes...

  • Marches: Highland Laddie; Earl of Mansfield; Barren Rocks of Aden; High Road to Gairloch; Teribus; My Love She's But a Lassie Yet; Brown Haired Maiden; Mairi's Wedding; Happy We've Been A' Thegither; A Man's a Man for A' That; Liberton Pipe Band; 79th's Farewell to Gibraltar
  • 3/4 Marches: The Green Hills of Tyrol; When the Battle's O'er; Lochanside
  • 9/8 Marches: The Battle of the Somme; Heights of Dargai
  • 4/4 Marches: Scotland the Brave; The Old Rustic Bridge; The Rowan Tree
  • 6/8 Marches: Bonnie Dundee; Steam Boat; Bugle Horn; Muckin' o' Geordie's Byre; Glendaruel Highlanders; Piobaireachd of Donald Dubh
  • Slow Airs: Scots Wha Ha'e (Bruce's Address); The Mist Covered Mountains; My Home; Dream Angus; Amazing Grace; Lochaber No More (Lament); Flowers of the Forest ( Lament); Auld Lang Syne; Highland Cradle Song; Sleep Dearie, Sleep
  • Strathspeys: The Inverness Rant; Loudon's Bonnie Woods and Braes; Devil in the Kitchen; Captain Horne; Orange and Blue; The Marquis of Huntly's Highland Fling
  • Reels: The Piper of Drummond; The High Road to Linton; The Kilt is My Delight; Tail Toddle; The De'il Amang the Tailors; Mrs MacLeod of Raasay
  • Dance Music: Whistle O'er the Lave O't (Sean Truibhais); Ghillie Callum (Sword Dance); The Gay Gordons; Mary Darroch Waltz; Lord Dunmore (The Bride's Jig)

Essential Tunes Book 2 repertoire includes...

The 25th (KOSB's) Farewell to Meerut, Atholl Highlanders, The Bens of Jura, Colonel Robertson of Toronto, King George V's Army, The Cameron Men, The 72nd's Farewell to Aberdeen, The Garb of Old Gaul, The Atholl and Breadalbane Gathering, The Borderers, Leaving Lismore, Greenwood Side, The Saffron Kilt, Jenny's Bawbee, The Wandering Piper, Johnny Cope, Mairi Ban Og, Black Bear Hornpipe, My Lodging's on the Cold Ground, Campbell's Farewell to Redcastle, Lord Lovat's Lament, The Drunken Piper, Bonnie Hoose o' Airlie, Corn Rigs, The Flower of Scotland, MacKay's Farewell to the 74th, Cutty's Wedding, Corriechoillie's 43rd Welcome..., McPhedran's Strathspey, I'm No' Awa' Tae Bide Awa', Miss Ada Crawford, Lord Byron, Monymusk, The Heroes of Vittoria, Stirling Castle, Colin's Cattle, The Braes o' Mar, Sir Colin Campbell's Farewell to Crimea, Because he was a Bonny Lad, Far o'er Struy, The Ale is Dear, The Battle of Waterloo, The Mason's Apron, Jennie's Black E'e, General Stewart of Garth, Hot Punch, Sandy Duff, The Midlothian Pipe Band, Granny Duncan, The Cock o' the North, MacDonald's..., The Wind that Shakes the Barley, Dovecote ParkCork Hill, Kenmure's On and Awa' Willie, and Joe McGann's Fiddle.

In Memory of My Teacher

William T. "Robbie" Robertson

Pipe Major William T. Robertson III was born and raised in Indianapolis, Indiana. He taught for twenty-seven years in the Houston Independent School District.  On May 8, 2007, Robbie passed away.

Robbie started his piping career in 1954 under the tutelage of his father.  His first band experience was a D.A.V. sponsored Boy Scout band in Indianapolis.  He played in this band until the Spring of 1957, when he "put away" the pipes for six years. In the Spring of 1963, he once again took up the pipes, under the tutelage of Don Maitland and started playing with the Gordon Pipers of Indianapolis, and later was one of the founding members of the Indiana Scottish Pipe band of Indianapolis, playing with both bands until his entry into the U.S. Air Force in 1966.

While stationed at Chanute AFB, Illinois, he played with the Peoria Pipe Band of Peoria, Illinois, under Pipe Major Phil Eskew. His Air Force assignment took him to Vietnam in October of 1966 where he was attached to the 1st Air Cavalry Division at An Khe.  The pipes soon followed and, by Christmas of 1966, "Robbie" was keeping alive the tradition of pipers in Combat. Upon his return stateside, he was assigned to Kelley AFB, in San Antonio, Texas, and was asked by locals to help in the formation of a pipe band there.  The result became the Alamo City Highlanders, and its 3 "children" -- the San Antonio Pipes & Drums, the Black Bexar Pipe Band, and the Alzafar Shrine Highlanders.

Upon his discharge from the Air Force and subsequent marriage, he moved to Tampa, Florida, and played with the Bay Area Pipes and Drums and the Egypt Temple Shrine Highlanders. Returning to Texas in 1971, he played with the Houston Highlanders for a year before returning to San Antonio and the Alamo City Highlanders.In 1979 due to job changes, he returned to Houston and the Highlanders.  In 1983 he was asked to assist in forming a pipe band for the Arabia Shrine Temple and continued as Pipe Major until the dissolution of that band in 1995.

Over the years, he has served as Pipe Sergeant of the Houston Highlanders, as the official piper for The University of Houston Downtown Criminal Justice Training Center, instructor for the Houston Fire Department Pipes and Drums, instructor for The Galveston County Fire Fighters Pipes and Drums, Pipe Major of the Alamo City Highlanders, The San Antonio Scottish Pipe Band, the Arabia Temple Pipes and Drums, and Pipe Sergeant of the Indiana Scottish Pipe Band.