The "Bagpipe as an Extension of Your Self" Beginner's Tutor ...a Dojo University "Core" Course

An in-depth online course building the simple, essential bagpipe fingerwork fundamentals from scratch.


When You're Done, You'll Walk Away With a Proven Method to


... utilizing our simple "layered" approach to Bagpipe Fingerwork for beginners:

Are you interested in learning the bagpipes but it's too complicated to figure out how to get started the right way?

Or, maybe you've already given the pipes a try, but things haven't exactly gone to plan? 

Unfortunately, this is a really common problem with the way bagpipes are taught around the world. Generally speaking, we have an antequated master-to-apprentice system of learning that rarely works unless... well... unless you're a true apprentice who has been lucky enough to find yourself under the same roof as a great master!

When you learn from a standard tutor book, it requires a teacher to be in the room with you to fill in the gaps of knowledge that can't be found in the text. What if you, like most, don't have that luxury? Or, if you do, it might only be once per week... and we need to be practicing a lot more than once a week if we're going to master this majestic instrument!

Is it possible to work around this issue? 

With the standard "tutor book" approach to learning - probably not. 

With a different, music-first approach to learning - absolutely yes.

FACT: All Bagpipe Tunes Have 4 Simple "LAYERS" Every Beginner Should Understand. (...They're logical, pretty simple, and tie directly into universal musical concepts...) 

If you love the bagpipes, it's because of the amazing music that can be produced on this rich, diverse, complex, beautiful instrument. 

Therefore, when we set out to learn the bagpipes, we should be setting out to learn the basics of producing amazing music

What are the essential components to creating great music on a bagpipe? How are they produced? Where do they differ from other types of instruments and where are they the same? 

Well, as it turns out, there are four essential "layers" that you need to understand in order to create great bagpipe tunes, and that's where this course comes in. This course will show you how to navigate each layer and - with moderate, dilligent practice - these layers aren't all that difficult to master!

By the time you've finished the "Bagpipe as a Extension of Your Self" Tutor Course here at Dojo U, you'll have developed a keen sense of how to build each of the 4 layers to produce great music out of any tune you attempt. Yes - even hornpipes, jigs, stathspeys and reels eventually!

Starting today, you'll have an interactive beginner's tool to take bagpipe learning into your own hands and control your own musical destiny! Let's dive into the details. 

What You'll Learn In This Course

The Four Layers of Every Bagpipe Tune.

Bagpipe music is like all other music. 

We need a way to produce our melody notes and our rhythms. We need a way to articulate our melody notes and rhythms to make things expressive and interesting. We need a way to embellish and texuture our melodies so that they're fun to listen to. 

The "Bagpipe as an Extension of Your Self" Tutor Course breaks down these essentials into their 4 basic "layers," and we carefully, patiently, objectively work through each layer with you, making sure we leave no musical stone unturned!

How Does Our Bagpipe Music Relate to "Real" Music? 

In this beginner's course, we'll spend time carefully studying exactly how each element of bagpipe music-making relates to essential "real-world" musical concepts. Great music should have melody, rhythm, articulation, dynamics - and guess what? Pipers have tools to produce all of those things!

It's important that you develop each of the essential tools as you venture down the road of becoming a piper.

What do we want? TUNES! When do we want 'em? NOW!

By the end of Chapter 1 (yes, you read that right) of our tutor, we'll already be learning classic tunes that are fun to play. Of course there are some fundamental exercises that we'll need to get through to make it there, but we try to fill our course with as much actual music-making as possible, as soon as possible! 

By the end of Chapter 2, we'll have complete bagpipe tunes under our belt. And, by the end of Chapter 4, you'll be amazed to already be able to play as many as 20 classic bagpipe tunes (including some up-tempo dance music)!

How to Learn Faster and Better

Patience will be a great virtue when learning the pipes, but efficiency will be one of our main points of focus. We don't want to beat our heads against the wall, struggling to learn. We want to be focused, with a clear mission at hand each and every time we set out to do something.

Our Tutor uses a variety of techniques and tools to help you learn as efficiently as possible (and to help you learn how to learn more efficiently). If you're ready to sky-rocket into your piping career as soon as possible, nothing should hold you back!

The course interface makes it easy for you to consume the content and track your progress. Enroll Today >>

You'll learn how the 4 layers of bapipe fingerwork come together to produce amazing music - and that focusing on them beats the fallacies of subjectivity any day of the week. Enroll Today >>

Learn the 4 Building Blocks Of Bagpipe Tunes Anyone Can Master!


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What People Are Saying...

"I have been studying the Dojo Tutor and completed three parts and starting on part four. Having previously been mainly self taught with the help of the “Green Book” I started over again from the beginning, carefully completing every lesson. My piping and musical knowledge have improved a great deal. The Dojo method of skill building and the theory behind it is devised and delivered by Andrew and supported by many other excellent instructors. I have recommended this course to a number of people who are interested in learning to play the bagpipes. I am a retired teacher and I believe this method of teaching bagpipes is an excellent way for anyone to learn to play this amazing instrument."

Elizabeth Ghent, Ontario

"As a new piper I was introduced to the practice chanter with the Green Book and Archie Cairns’ tutor. While both have their value, the Dojo Tutors’ combination of well-thought-out approach, communication style and video learning made picking up the chanter a much more rewarding experience. It’s an extremely effective and comprehensive resource, both for people learning on their own and for people learning the basics from established players."

Sue Kennedy, Nevada

New! 220-page Companion Workbook Included With Purchase

Amazing news! Our tutor now comes with an included 220-page companion workbook, shipped to your door wherever you live in the world!


  • 220 Pages​ mirroring the world's best beginning bagpipe tutor!
  • All Sheet Music from the Online Tutor
  • Comprehensive explanations to reinforce the online course content, throughout the workbook.
  • Instructor feedback tools on each and every exercise.
  • Areas for ample note-taking!
  • Coil-bound for easy use on a table top or music stand.

Automatically receive the workbook with purchase. The workbook is included in the price (you just pay shipping).

The "Bagpipe as an Extension of Your Self" Tutor Course Details

In this 5-part, 16+ hour course you'll learn everything you need to know to master the simple, objective building blocks of all bagpipe tunes.

Module 1: Melody and Basic Rhythm

  • Lesson 1:1 - Practice Chanter Basics
  • Lesson 1-2: The Scale
  • Lesson 1-3: Scale Run Exercises
  • Lesson 1-4: Simple Melodies Using Scale Runs
  • Lesson 1-5: Arpeggio Exercises
  • Lesson 1-6: Simple Melodies Using Scale Runs and Arpeggios  

Module 2: Introduction to Gracenotes

  • Lesson 2-1: G Gracenote Scale in Quarter Notes
  • Lesson 2-2: Scale Runs with G Gracenotes
  • LessonLesson 2-3: Arpeggio Exercises with G Gracenotes
  • Lesson 2-4: Simple Melodies with G Gracenotes
  • Lesson 2-5: Simple Bagpipe Tunes with G Gracenotes
  • Bonus - Public Service Tunes with G Gracenotes 

Module 3: Supporting Gracenotes

  • Lesson 3-1: D Gracenotes
  • Lesson 3-2: D Gracenote Combinations
  • Lesson 3-3: D Gracenote Exercises
  • Lesson 3-4: D Gracenote Melodies
  • Lesson 3-5: Taps and Strikes
  • Lesson 3-6: Melodies with Taps and Strikes
  • Lesson 3-7: Melodies with All Supporting Gracenotes
  • Lesson 3-8: Prelude Versions of Common Bagpipe Tunes
  • Bonus - Public Service Tunes with Supporting Gracenotes 

Module 4: Embellishments (Part A)

  • Introduction to Embellishments
  • Lesson 4-1: Type A Embellishments
  • Lesson 4-2: The E Gracenote and "Power Trio"
  • Lesson 4-3: Simple Melodies with Doublings
  • Lesson 4 - 4 (A): Our first Low G Oriented Movements
  • Lesson 4-5 (A): Your First Fully Embellished Bagpipe Tunes
  • Embellishment Appendix
  • Bonus - Public Service Tunes Fully Embellished

Module 5: Embellishments (Part B)

  • Lesson 4-4 (B): Completing Low G Oriented Movements
  • Lesson 4-5 (B): Completing the Must Know Classic Bagpipe Tunes
  • Lesson 4-6: Introduction to Strathspeys and Reels
  • Bonus - More Public Service Tunes Fully Embellished
  • Embellishment Appendix  

What You'll Get: When you enroll today, you'll receive instant access to:  

  • The "Bagpipe as an Extension of Your Self" Tutor Course
  • 5 Core Modules
  • 50+ Video Lessons
  • PDF Lesson "Handouts"
  • Tune-building play-along videos with each and every tune.
  • New! 220-page Companion Workbook delivered to your door (just pay shipping).
  • Retention Quizzes after each lesson.

Plus, upon successfully completing of the course and the final exam, you'll also receive "Belt Level Points" towards yor next Dojo University belt-level. A great way to measure your achievement as you take more courses and gather more experience in the bagpipe world.

Course Details: Tuition: $29 (usually $79) Level: Beginners (or, those who know they should begin again). Setting: Online/Virtual + Workbook Course Length: 15-20 Hours Expected Completion Time: 1-3 Months

How It Works


Sign up by clicking "enroll now." Direct access will be sent to your inbox.


The course take 15-20 hours to complete, with several in-depth modules, and a retention quiz at the end of each module.


At the end of each chapter, 80% or higher on the final quiz means you've passed and you're ready for the next level!


Limited Time Flash Sale

JUST $29 

(Normally $79 - Save $50 Off Retail)

The Fingerwork Fundamentals Course 

  • 5 Core Modules
  • 50+ Video Lessons
  • PDF Lesson "Handouts"
  • Tune-building play-along videos with each and every tune.
  • New! 220-page Companion Workbook delivered to your door (just pay shipping).
  • Retention Quizzes after each module.

Course Details:

  • Level: Beginners (or, those who know they should begin again).
  • Setting: Online/Virtual + Workbook
  • Course Length: 15-20 Hours Expected Completion Time: 1-3 Months

WARNING: $50 Discount Expires In Just...


Who Should Take This Course?

Sally the Solo Piper

If you want to learn bagpipes to play on your own at various events, or even just for yourself, this is the place to start.

Band Player Bob

Want to play in a band some day? There's no better way to learn the fundamental skills you need to become a great band player than this tutor.

Pipe Major Pam

Want to do better for your band, and the beginners coming up through the ranks? Learn how we teach beginners and become the hero your followers need!

"Cool" Bagpipe Teacher Tim

Make your students better by teaching them the 4 simple, objective layers to each and every bagpipe tune.

Martha the Mom/Spouse

It's always super handy when your mother and/or spouse helps you with your bagpiping. For real. It is!

Why Should You Take This Course?

If you're a "pure" beginner...  

...this course will put you on the fast track to success.  

Unlike other pipers who amble and wander through the difficult subjective offered by standard learning methods, ours is objective, easy to follow, hands-on, and builds on itself so you're always ready for the next step when it rolls around.

The bottom line: It'll make you a real piper in good time. (If you dilligently practice, that is).

This is the exact same method we've used countless times in and around the "dojo" community to create successful pipers.  

And we've held nothing back in this course. This is the playbook.

So, if you want to:  

  • Learn the bagpipes with correct technique 
  • Become a musician - NOT just a bagpiper
  • Learn the skills you need to set the sky as the limit-

...this course is for you.  

If you've played a bit but now you're "stuck"...

It's pretty common for pipers who have stalled and can't figure out how to get better to eventually find us. 

This tutor, and all of the subsequent methods you'll learn at the Dojo, will help you "reboot" your bagpiping experience with objective, correct, common-sense techniques that can get you back on track again.

It's may feel like a step back to start again from scratch, but it's not. As a matter of fact - it could be just what the doctor ordered. 

Can't figure out how to play without crossing noises? Pick up this tutor.

Can't feel the beat no matter what you do? Do this.

Can't get your gracenotes correct? It's time to dig in to the Bagpipe as an Extension of Your Self Tutor. 

Let's do this together - you won't regret it!

Learn the 4 Building Blocks Of Bagpipe Tunes Anyone Can Master!

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About Your Instructor

Andrew Douglas

“My name is Andrew Douglas and I'm the founder of the Piper's Dojo and creator of Dojo University, our online learning portal for bagpipers. I'm super excited to be your guide as we dive into the fascinating, enriching, passionate world of the great highland bagpipe!"

— Andrew Douglas

A bit more about Andrew:  

  • Founder, Creator, and CEO of the Piper's Dojo and Dojo University
  • 2017 World Champion with Inveraray and District Pipe Band
  • 2017 Winner of USA Silver Medal for Piobaireachd
  • 2008-2013 Pipe Major of Grade 1 Oran Mor Pipe Band
  • Multi-prize winner, Silver Medals at Oban and Inverness
  • Former Winner of B-Grade Strathspey/Reel at Oban (2004)
  • Certified Bagpipe Teacher and Accredited Examiner with the Scottish Qualifications Authority

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: "Is this course right for my ability level?"

A: Chances are, yes! 

This is a great course for pure beginners all the way through to advanced players that want a refresher on great technique.

Q: "What is a 'core' course?"  

A: A "core" course is an A-to-Z, soup-to-nuts, in depth bagpipe course. 

If you've been around Dojo U for long at all, you'll know that we offer a wide variety of resources, materials, and activities to help make this truly the world's first "piping school" on the web. Some of our courses are "short and sweet," with only the bare-essentials presented. Other courses are somewhere in between. "Core courses" are the full story, 100% 


Q: "How long will it take to access my course when I deliver it?"

A: Immediate. We'll send you a username and password to access the course right to your email address. 

Q: "Can I download the course to watch offline?"  

A: This course is hosted and protected "in the cloud." If you have an internet connection, you can literally access this course anywhere, on any device. Unfortunately, none of the video materials are downloadable onto your device for offline viewing. (The documents and other share-ables are though!

Q: "Can I do this course on my phone/tablet?"

A: Yes! Our updated interface jives extremely well with all modern devices.

Q: "Is there a guarantee?"  

Yep...all our trainings have a 30-day, no-questions-asked guarantee.  

In other words, if you aren't happy for any reason, just let us know and we'll give you your money back. We obviously don't think it'll come to that, but if you're even the least bit worried if this will work for you, then put your mind at ease.  

You either get the results you want or you get your money back. It's as simple as that!  

Learn the 4 Building Blocks Of Bagpipe Tunes Anyone Can Master!

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Dojo University Is Different

Yes, you can find bagpipe instruction elsewhere on the internet and in person, but a Dojo University course is unique because it's built and taught by real-world bagpipers who have actually built these courses based on real-world experience (read: successes).

In other words, we aren't people who couldn't do so we made a course instead. We've been in the trenches teaching AND performing - we detest untested theory and believe that the best way to learn something is to roll up your sleeves and get your hands a little dirty. If that sounds appealing, then welcome! In Dojo U you've found your bagpipe home.


Article from the Voice Magazine, 2011

Here is an article written by Andrew Douglas for the Voice magazine some time ago, outlining the differences between his tutor and "standard" bagpipe tutors. Does any of this resonate with you?

Learning the Bagpipe as an Extension of your Self

By Andrew Douglas

I started the Piper's Dojo in the summer of 2008 as a year-round school for bagpipers in Albany, NY, with the help and encouragement of my long-time teacher and mentor Donald Lindsay. Since then, the Dojo has expanded by developing a nation-wide online store for bagpipe supplies, an online "University" for bagpipers, and even a social-networking platform for American pipers and drummers called "".

I’ve always nurtured a passion not only for playing, but for making the instrument accessible to others. Piping is a part of me, and traditional programs of study never really fit the way I approached either the music or the technique. To really share my passion, I needed to develop a new way of teaching. After years of study, reflection, and hard work, on September 1 of this year I released the first edition of "The Bagpipe as an Extension of Your Self," a distinctly different learning experience than any other "standard" tutor. 

Flaws in the traditional way of learning the pipes.

Those who have learned from me, perhaps at a workshop or as a member or onlooker to the Oran Mor Pipe Band approach, know that I don't subscribe to the idea of piping as a linear process. For me, the major downfall of this approach - which is uniformly the approach of our standard tutors - is the idea that somehow by adding 'A' + 'B' + 'C' together, these finger moves and terminology (which often seem daunting and random) will eventually turn you into a piper. To me, the linear process laid out in these tutors is so far removed from the realities of music making, that I sometimes speculate it does more harm than good. Sure, it teaches you the notes of the scale, but it also engrains anti-musical notions that will haunt your technique and musicality for years.

To give one example, one of the great ironies I often witness around the games is how the D throw is the least accurately or consistently executed movement by pipers of all levels (including professional level). It's ironic because this is almost universally the first embellishment pipers learn - it was certainly the first embellishment I learned, as proscribed by the "Green Book." It was only recently, after over a decade of playing at the professional level, with top level bands, that I myself have finally tamed the style of my own D-throw, and am able to do so consistently. Could it be that this movement is introduced to pipers way too early in the learning process?

In the "Green Book," the D throw is introduced in order to learn your first tune, Scots wa' Hae. To me, this creates a loop-hole logically. How is it that we are now learning to embellish something that we haven't even learned how to do yet? The D throw is a finger technique that embellishes a pipe tune, but we are learning this without ever having played a pipe tune. How does that work? How can any activity be “embellished” before you learn the activity itself? It’s no wonder, to summarize, that the D-throw is played incoherently by a large segment of the bagpiping population.

The idea behind the Green Book and most other recognized teaching volumes is that a piper should learn the mechanics of piping in a certain “linear” order, which will eventually enable him to play a standard repertoire of tunes. To me, these tunes don’t become music as a result of the tutor. They’re a collection of instructions that let a novice sound like a piper without actually becoming a piper. How is one supposed to understand what they are doing? Where are they going to go next? Some are fortunate enough to have talented, wise, experienced instructors (like I was fortunate to have). What about the rest of us?

The Bagpipe as an Extension of your Self

The way I see it, it is this "monkey-see-monkey-do," additive approach to learning and teaching bagpipes that has led to the largely one-dimensional, conformist, un-musical population of players in and about our communities, at all ages and stages. I call this the "You as an Extension of Your Bagpipe" phenomenon. A player goes through the motions, but does not have any understanding - they are simply an extension of someone else's style, and, while that style may have merit, it is not their own true voice. In turn, if the music isn't coming from their own "Selves", is it really music? If they say, "yes, it's music," is that music really any good? Why wouldn't I just listen to the original? Why wouldn't they? In my opinion, the bagpipe needs to be an extension of your Self, a representation of who you are. A tutor needs to prepare you to make your own musical decisions, and to develop your own style.

Monkeys aren't all bad.

Many peers and colleagues (and possibly you as you read) will say: “Andrew, monkey-see-monkey-do is a necessary part of the learning process.” In general, I agree! I definitely learned much of my basics by "copying" my dad, and later other teachers. The problem that arises at that point is – what are you supposed to do with the basics? As a true musician, it is important to adapt the fundamentals to suit your own musical style and vision. This is where the standard tutors, and arguably our current bagpiping culture, falls short. I was extremely fortunate to have learned from many outstanding teachers whose goal it was to foster a true musician – but in this regard my Green Book book doesn’t come to mind as having helped at all.

Let's use the example of a young child learning a language (isn't speech mankind's quintessential "instrument?"), and learning largely by copying. If you are encouraging them to speak, what do you start with? Adjectives? Adverbs? No. You’d start withnNouns; the simple "identifier" words like Mama, Dada, etc. Pretty soon thereafter you'd need to introduce action words (verbs), so the child could start to make simple sentences. Only much later would one need to learn to "ornament" language with adjectives and adverbs. Yes, a child begins by copying, but pretty soon he’s making sentences of his own, putting words in his own order. He’s making the language his own.

After learning the fundamentals, people are encouraged and expected to use their language skills to express themselves. Not to do so would be a waste of this great skill that we have attained, right? 

In the world, if you copy someone’s written or spoken language, it’s called plagiarism – illegal! But, in the piping world, it seems to be encouraged. The standard tutors implicitly teach us: Copy us, letter by letter, and you too can be a piper. Many piping teachers will say, “when you can play it exactly the same as [insert mystical bagpiper here] would play it, only then will it be good piping!” What they don’t tell you is: ALL of the world’s greatest pipers have developed a distinct style of their own, by exploring the music and its fundamentals from their own perspective. That is what my tutor, the Bagpipe as an Extension of your Self, is meant to encourage.

How this method works

In my learning method, the learning path is meant to foster true musicality. It starts with melody notes only, teaches you the basic scale-navigation techniques, and then encourages you to make some simple music using these simple building blocks. In chapter 2, G gracenotes are introduced. After that, supporting gracenotes like D, E and strikes are added (layered) in. As a matter of fact, most of the basic pipe tunes are learned at this point, simply without embellishments. This idea, of offering a “prelude” version of pipe tunes, has already been borrowed by Maureen Connor in one of her previous Voice articles to illustrate a more music-first approach to learning a pipe tune.

Only once a piper is successfully making music using these fundamental building blocks do we introduce embellishments. The nature of embellishments can be seen right in their name: they embellish, or decorate, the music that we play. How can you decorate something that hasn't even been assembled yet? Do you decorate your Christmas tree before you put it on the stand? Before you bring it in the house? How much easier would it be to wait to decorate the tree until it is safely up in the tree stand? Similarly, the learning of the basic bagpipe embellishments is much simpler now that we have the building blocks of bagpipe music under our belts. 

Just like learning a language, or even just putting up a Christmas tree, learning the pipes should follow a logical, musical, pathway that allows plenty of room for your own personal point of view. That is what the Bagpipe as an Extension of your Self is all about. Even if a young child is to learn the pipes by copying - they should do this copying along this logical pathway, that starts with the true basics first. Then, they can build on that knowledge towards more complexity, and a whole world of possibilities.