Want to learn to express yourself via your bagpipes?

We wrote the book on it.

Claim your FREE physical copy of
Finding Bagpipe Freedom

Get Your Free Copy

We'll mail it to your door - just pay $9.99 shipping.

"Pipers of every level of experience and ability can feel incredibly frustrated and lost in the dark about an instrument they want to play well, but can't.

It doesn't have to be this way.

Join me as I guide you through a commonsense approach, which I call the Five Phases of Bagpipe Freedom, to liberate every aspect of your musicianship and rediscover your joy of playing the bagpipes."

-Andrew Douglas
author of Finding Bagpipe Freedom

"Finding Bagpipe Freedom presents an innovative approach to a staged improvement... It really caught my attention and it certainly presents ideas in an original way which have proved to have benefited players at all standards."

Pipe Major Richard Parkes MBE

"This book is not just a one-off read. It’s every piper's companion that will support you throughout your piping career. To fully engage in its wisdom it would be sensible to regularly refer to its advice and guidance through your developing years as a musician. The big bonus is it sets you free to enjoy your own music and playing."
P/M Robert Mathieson
5-Time World Champion Pipe Major of Shotts and Dykehead Pipe Band, and RSPBA Adjudicator

Relearning How to Learn...

In the first part of Finding Bagpipe Freedom, we'll take a close look at how we learn. As I've learned over the years, so many of the "secrets" to how to successfully learn (and teach!) bagpipes can be found simply by looking at things we've already learned successfully in our lives. 

At this point, walking, reading, and riding a bike are all simple tasks for us. But there was a time where that wasn't the case. How did we get from there to here? Right now, reading this seems second nature to you. Wouldn't it be nice if the fundamentals of bagpiping were also second nature to you (so you could simply direct all of your focus towards honing your unique musical voice)?

I say - this is the point! This is the reason we picked up the bagpipes in the first place - to express ourselves. But the fundamental techniques we need to master in order to do that have become muddled, confused, and bad habits are likely to already be ingrained. 

Let's begin to un-ingrain them, together.

Chapter 1 - Ascending the hierarchy of competence

Despite its fancy name, the hierarchy of competence basically just breaks down a very relatable set of experiences that everyone in the world has gone through, many times – progressing from incompetence to competence in any skill. This will be the foundation through which we look at each of the 10 active skills required to play the bagpipes successfully...

Chapter 2 - The secret formula of improving at musicianship

I believe there are three secret ingredients when it comes to generating improvement on the bagpipes. The better you can harness these ingredients, the faster and better you'll improve.

And I'll give you a hint, none of these ingredients are fancy or complicated - we just have to find them, and use them!  

Chapter 3 - Earning Bagpipe Freedom in five phases

As it turns out, we've determined that there are 5 "rungs" of the learning ladder when it comes to this crazy instrument of ours. Chapter 3 gives a summary of these five phases of the Bagpipe Freedom process, and how they'll all come together to help you achieve what you really want - musical freedom.

Chapter 4 - Get prepared – and go shopping

To achieve Bagpipe Freedom you’re going to need to be prepared. After all, no adventure starts out with empty pockets and no plan – at least, not one where you want to survive, let alone thrive!

Nothing we talk about here will be a huge surprise, and not much of it requires big spending – in fact, a bunch of it will be more of an investment of your time than any money. But this simple, straightforward list will be an upfront investment that reaps you huge returns in the long run.

Finding Bagpipe Freedom


You just pay shipping

  • Regular price on Amazon: 19.99
  • Free today (just pay 9.99 shipping)
  • 244p paperback book, mailed straight to you.
  • 14 Chapters
  • Foreword by Jim McGillivray, author of Rhythmic Fingerwork

"I could have avoided much pain if I’d been brought up with this method – so clearly outlined, and so clearly successful."

Dr. Jack Taylor
Long-serving former President of the Piobaireachd Society

"Sound advice backed up by a range of strategies which provides pipers of all abilities with a roadmap to self improvement."

Roddy MacLeod MBE
Former long-serving Principal of the National Piping Centre

5 Steps to Creative Flexibility and Freedom

Once we've looked more closely at how to learn, the way forward actually becomes remarkably simple and elegant. Chapters 5-9 of Finding Bagpipe Freedom will take you through the 5-step layer-by-layer process to building (or re-building) your musical foundation.

Chapter 5 - Freedom Phase 1: Rhythm

If music-making was baking a cake, rhythm would be the raw ingredients. Without butter, flour, and sugar no cake would ever be worth eating. It wouldn't matter how great it looked, or how expensive your mixer was - you need the raw ingredients to be there. In Chapter 5, I'll help you explore and re-discover rhythm in a simple way that will build an incredible foundation for future layers of music making.

Chapter 6 - Freedom Phase 2: Basic Melody

Basic melodies on the bagpipes will need to combine rhythm with a) the ability to create notes and b) the ability to articulate and/or "shape" those notes. And so, in this phase, our bagpipe scale and our basic gracenotes will be introduced. If you've truly got your rhythm on autopilot, simply focusing on clean note-changes and crisp gracenotes will be all you need in this phase. But, exactly what does that mean?

Chapter 7 - Freedom Phase 3: Posture, mechanics, and tuning

Now that basic rhythm, scale navigation, and great gracenote quality are under our command, we have all the tools we need to channel a tune from our minds, through our fingers, and manifest it into existence. Any melody we want to play is possible.

So, in Chapter 7, we'll now press pause on our fingerwork development and shift our focus to development of instrument sound. With only our drones going, we're going to learn the essentials of bagpipe posture, basic tuning of two drones together, and a smooth, steady blowing cycle.

Chapter 8 - Freedom Phase 4: The Meeting of the Dimensions

Phase 4 is the first time that we plug in the chanter, set up our reed, and begin to focus on playing full tunes on the pipes. 

As fun as it is to have mastered the manometer and be staring down some fun tunes, a word of caution – Phase 4 is extremely difficult. 

Now that the chanter is introduced to the mix, this phase introduces three new skills to master – locating and maintaining the chanter reed ‘sweet spot’ pressure continuously as you play; tuning (and retuning) your drones to the ever-changing pitch of the chanter reed; and avoiding dreaded ‘mental blowing anomalies’.

Chapter 9 - Freedom Phase 5: Embellishments and Basic Dynamics

Finally, it’s time to take a look at what happens when you do successfully build your foundational fundamentals successfully, and you earn the opportunity to explore more complex aspects of bagpipe fingerwork. How do you implement embellishments and expression technique the right way?

Embellishments like D throws, grips, and doublings combined with what we normally refer to as "expression" can be thought of like the icing on the cake. Really, the sky is the limit with these concepts, as long as your foundation is strong and in good order.

We'll explore the ins and outs of piping's intricate details in this chapter.

"Finding Bagpipe Freedom is fresh, fun to read and very thorough. There are many golden nuggets there for pipers at all levels."

Jack Lee

6-Time World Champion, and Former Winner of the Glenfiddich

"This is a perfect read for any musician, let alone piper, who might have plateaued in their progress to musical satisfaction. Finding Bagpipe Freedom reminds us of the important principles of rhythmic accuracy, scales and the articulation of good technique, the mechanics of playing the instrument and tuning and finally transferring all experiences to the big instrument."

Ken Eller
15-Time North American Champion, and Renowned Teacher

"Finding Bagpipe Freedom offers a fresh and enlightening perspective on mastering the bagpipe in the highly readable, engaging guide that will be sure to reinvigorate and inspire those whose piping journeys have stalled. This should be essential reading not just for students of the instrument, but also for teachers."

Alan Bevan

Pipe Major of SFU Pipe Band, Winner of Both Gold Medals

Finding Bagpipe Freedom


You just pay shipping

  • Regular price on Amazon: 19.99
  • Free today (just pay 9.99 shipping)
  • 244p paperback book, mailed straight to you.
  • 14 Chapters
  • Foreword by Jim McGillivray, author of Rhythmic Fingerwork

Exploring Your New Bagpipe Freedom

Not only will the 5 Phases of Bagpipe Freedom help you become a happy, "free" bagpiper, but the same processes can be a lens through which you view any bagpipe challenge or problem. Part 3 of this book explores some of these opportunities in exciting detail.

Chapter 10 - Automate your systems

The great pipers of old just let the music flow through them, right? They channeled pure musical magic through their fingers straight from their souls! Organization and systematization are the opposite of self expression... right?


Systems are not just vital; they are the key to self expression.

Chapter 11 - Free your pipe band

If you’ve reached this point, you likely see the value in the Bagpipe Freedom approach that’s stepped out in this book. Perhaps you’re one of the majority of pipers in the world who play in a band, or aspire to, or maybe you’re directly involved with the leadership of one. 

And, if that’s the case, I want to help you make the connection that, not only is the Bagpipe Freedom process an ideal system for improving your individual level of play, it is also therefore an ideal system to integrate into the operation of your band, for guaranteed improvement, year after year.

Chapter 12 - Free your mind

Literally every adult player has to deal with "real life" conflicting with your bagpiping goals and aspirations – including me. You are not alone. I assure you that by reframing the way you think about and approach any regular issues you might face in life or in piping, it’s quite possible to attain Bagpipe Freedom in a sea of real-world commitments.

About the Author

Andrew Douglas is a prolific practitioner of the bagpipe, active at the highest level of pipe bands, solo competition, teaching, and creative endeavors for the past 20 years. He's the founder and creator of The Piper’s Dojo and Dojo University, and his credentials include being 2017 & 2019 World Champion with Inveraray and District Pipe Band, 2017 Winner of the USA Silver Medal for Piobaireachd, 2008–2013 Pipe Major of Grade 1 Oran Mor Pipe Band, a multi-prize winner of Silver Medals at Oban and Inverness, and the 2004 B-Grade Winner Strathspey/Reel at Oban. He holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Simon Fraser University, and is an Accredited Bagpipe Teacher and Examiner with the Scottish Qualifications Authority.

Finding Bagpipe Freedom


You just pay shipping

  • Regular price on Amazon: 19.99
  • Free today (just pay 9.99 shipping)
  • 244p paperback book, mailed straight to you.
  • 14 Chapters
  • Foreword by Jim McGillivray, author of Rhythmic Fingerwork