Paul S. Palmer, Bagpiper
Chicago, Illinois, USA
FAQ about the Bagpipes
Is it hard to play
the bagpipe? Yes
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.
Where 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?
Sorry, 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
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
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
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.