What is Bagpipe Freedom?

Why did you first pick up a set of bagpipes?

Did you want to play a moving rendition of Amazing Grace at the graveside? Were you eager to wow an audience as part of a band? Did you want to take out the title in your local Grade 3 competition? Did you want to honor the memory of your grandfather, who handed his pipes down to you, by playing a tune he always loved in front of your family?

Regardless of what your dream was (or is), all of these scenarios have a common element – they're about creation; manifesting an idea from our imagination out into the world.

They're about self-expression.

Sadly, very few pipers are free to actually express themselves. Instead, they resort to trying in vain to carbon-copy bagpipe music and styles passed down from others (pipe majors, teachers, judges, YouTube phenoms, etc).

Trapped by bad habits that make it impossible for them to progress, the typical piper ends up unfulfilled by the bagpiping experience. Many quit, but even more catastrophically, many pipers keep playing even though they've given up actually trying to sound their best.

The Mastery Formula

If you accept the premise that mastery is all about seeking true self-expression, the next question should be: how have successful masters achieved this in the past?

Don't just think about piping masters. Think about masters in any creative endeavor.

Over the years here at Dojo U, we've discovered all mastery seems to follow the same basic 'formula':

  1. An aspiring master surrounds themselves with the culture of their chosen craft – ideally, you'd be raised in an environment where this happened naturally and passively, but if you didn't, you can simulate it by devouring as many relevant books, internet sites, community events, podcasts, workshops, and the like as you can. We call this 'immersion'. because your environment is the single greatest correlate to your success (or failure).
  2. They participate in their craft every. single. day. At least a bit. Without fail. We call this a 'minimally viable practice regimen'.
  3. Over time, they develop excellent fundamental technique correctly, at the right intensity, and in the right order. At the Dojo, we do this using a specific technique development process called 'the 5 Phases of Bagpipe Freedom'.
  4. Once a complete 'base level' of knowledge and technique is developed, an aspiring master is free to explore their own creative voice in myriad ways, improving steadily day after day.

At the Dojo, we've distilled this basic mastery formula into a system we call the Bagpipe Freedom Process:

Aside from complete beginners at absolute Day 1 of their piping journey (and don't worry, we have an excellent beginner's tutor for beginners as well), all Dojo students can follow this formula right here on this website, and those who follow the process see incredible results with their piping.

These results will manifest not only in how good you sound, but also in the discovery (or re-discovery) of an incredible feeling of fulfillment regarding your bagpiping journey.

How We Work Towards Bagpipe Freedom at the Dojo:

To enact the concepts above and work towards our eventual bagpipe freedom, a Dojo student is encouraged to participate in the following process:

  1. Learn about the 11 Commandments of Mastery, the fundamental "first principles" of mastering any creative craft.
  2. Undertake 5 simple "daily habit" challenges to build immersion and a minimally viable daily practice regiment into your daily life (items 1 and 2 in the mastery diagram above).
  3. You'll build strong technique fundamentals utilizing the "5 Phases of Bagpipe Freedom," a checkpoint-based feedback program unique to the Dojo. (item 3 in mastery diagram above)
  4. Passing the 5 Phases will mean you now have all the bagpipe knowledge and skill you need to pursue your unique interests, and to develop your own unique creative voice. In other words, you'll be on the way to mastery!

Over the years, we've seen that anyone can achieve Bagpipe Freedom with a commitment as small as 15 minutes per day. It doesn’t matter what style you play, who your teacher is, whether you have five minutes or an hour each day to dedicate to the process, or whether you’re a complete beginner or have been playing for 50 years.

Most importantly, this approach is proven to transform any learner into a true musician that can use the bagpipe as a means to express their own unique musical voice – and isn't that the true reason we wanted to do this in the first place?

We don’t learn music to just express someone else’s ideas. We learn it to express our own!

Bagpipe Freedom – this actual, real creative freedom – is the secret ingredient that will make playing the bagpipes a truly joyful pursuit that you can enjoy for the rest of your life.

Next Steps:

We literally wrote the book on Bagpipe Freedom! Click here to purchase it today.

Dojo Members can begin the freedom process any time by simply following the directions on their member home page. Click here to purchase a membership today.

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  1. Living in a fairly remote small town, finding good instruction has been a problematic. Pipers DOJO has been a life saver for me. A source for good instruction and critique. Well worth joining and following.

  2. I have found a love for the instrument, however between learning the instrument and being a father and husband, it can be difficult to learn the bagpipes. I have found that most bands don't have a good instruction program, in person. Most bands want an experienced person. It can be hard to find a band that will foster instruction or provide the time for new bagpipers.