Paul S. Palmer, Bagpiper
Chicago, Illinois, USA

FAQ about the Bagpipes

bagpiper, bagpipes, bagpipe informationIs it hard to play the bagpipe? Yes it is.

How long does it take to learn?

It takes a couple of years to learn to play the bagpipe and then several more to learn how to play it well.
Where do you learn to play the bagpipe?
While there are some private bagpipe teachers around, most pipers learn by joining a bagpipe band. Joining usually involves just showing up and buying a practice instrument (practice chanter) to learn on. Most bands will teach you for free because they are hoping you will stick around long enough to play the damn thing in the band.

Paul Palmer, bagpiperWhere did you learn and who did you play with?

I learned from one of the best pipers in Chicago, Jim Imlach. After playing in several smaller bands, I eventually joined the oldest pipe band in Chicago, the Stock Yard Kilty Band, founded in 1921.
Where did you grow up?    Palmer grew up in St. Cajetan.
Is there any other way for a Southsider to answer that question? Chicago/Morgan Park if you want to be technical. A Sox and Bears Fan! But, I'm an equal opportunity bagpiper, I have helped bury and marry many Cub fans as well. If you're a Greenbay Packer fan, don't tell me!
Why can't I get a hour or two of bagpiping?
First, it's a loud, commanding instrument, it stops the action it can be hard on the ears. You use the bagpipe to embellish a ceremony not as a background instrument. Physically, you can't play the bagpipe continually like you would play a piano. Playing the bagpipe is usually done in short increments. Rule of thumb: Ten minutes of bagpiping is good, twenty minutes is too much. Middle of the road: A St. Paddy's day walk through, 15 minutes.

Where did the bagpipe originally come from?

Irish Piper, Bagpipe musicSorry, not Ireland. No, not Scotland either. It's a middle eastern instrument according to historians. An ancient bagpipe was discovered in Syria, thought to be 4000 years old. The Romans brought the instrument to western Europe. Every court in Europe at one time had bagpipers. The Scots added the third drone (those three wooden tubes that stick up in the air). Bagpipes can have one, two or three drones or none at all.

Do you wear a kilt when you play?

A piper always wears the kilted outfit when they play the pipes. See Pics Funeral Info or Weddings.
Is Bagpiping all you do?
No. Paul S. Palmer also has a real job. I have run a Hypnosis Clinic for 30 years. Palmer Smoking Clinic and Sports Motivation Clinic in Midlothian, Illinois. or

9-11-01 Questions

World Trade Center 9-10-11Since the senseless attack by Muslim extremists on September 11, 2001, many have asked about the reason the bagpipes were played for the fallen police and firefighters. The playing of the pipes at a wake or funeral is a centuries old tradition among the Scots, Irish and British, particularly the solo piper as you might have seen. British military units often had pipe bands and would salute their fallen comrades in this fashion. In the last century many larger US cities formed bagpipe bands often sponsored by the local Emerald Society or St. Andrews Society. Because of the large number of Irish and Scots in both the Police Departments and Fire Brigades, when one of their own passed away in the line of duty, they would bring out the band or the lone piper to honor their fallen countrymen. The tradition expanded to honor any police officer or fireman killed in the line of duty.