Master Bagpipe Fingerwork Fundamentals

... a Dojo University Core Course

In this 16-hour course, you'll learn everything you need to know to master the simple, objective fundamentals that make excellent bagpipe fingerwork.

Course Details
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Are you an experienced player who perhaps rushed through learning embellishments properly when you first learned to play?

Are you a piping veteran, looking to refresh your knowledge of bagpipe fingerwork fundamentals?

Or, are you a bagpipe instructor or pipe major who wants to compare how our world-class team guides beginners through clear execution of bagpipe fingerwork? 

What if you didn't have to struggle to extract great music from any bagpipe tune you chose?

Instead, what if the challenge was simply just how much music you could extract?

It probably sounds crazy, but bagpiping is no different than any other mastery-oriented skill. For some reason, we are all led to believe that piping is a mystical endeavor, and that the secrets to piping lie deep in the souls of famous players.

But guess what? It's not!

Just like a basketball player has certain fundamentals to master in order to be part of a great team (dribbling, defense, boxing out, and of course shooting), bagpipers have a set of basic fundamentals they need to master as well.

Are you following me?

"Hoping and praying" (and PAYING?) that the right piece of bagpipe advice comes your way is no way to learn bagpipe tunes. At least, not very many. And not very fast.

So how do you take a new tune, totally undeveloped, and convert it into something that sounds great, with only a "routine" amount of time and effort?

Well, that's exactly what you're about to learn...

There are six (and only six) fundamental skills a bagpiper must master in order to play great tunes, every time.

(...and they're not complicated, by the way...)

Fundamentals are the life-blood of any (and every) tune. It sounds a bit boring... but I've got news for you; it's true.

That's why going to a few private lessons with a "famous" piper every now and then just isn't enough.

Even the best, most well-intentioned instructor can't distill solid, repeatable, masterable fundamental skills in the short time that you're there for your lesson.

Indeed, bagpipe "lessons" in the traditional sense of the word are for refining your fundamental skillset, for adding the "icing" to the cake that you've generated based on your own existing skillset.

So...where do we get the proverbial "cake"?

Where do we go to develop a clear sense of direction, a repeatable system for creating darn-good music out of any tune we approach?

Well, that's where this course comes in.

By the time you've finished the Fingerwork Fundamentals "Core" Course here at Dojo U, you'll have developed a keen sense of the six key bagpipe fingerwork fundamentals that you need to produce great music out of any tune you attempt.

Now, you'll have each and every tune 95% of the way to greatness before you show up at your lesson. You'll be a true piper, ready to express yourself with your music - instead of struggling to just make something come out of the instrument.

What You'll Learn in This Course

The six non-subjective concepts that make great fingerwork

Would it have been easier to say "objective"? Sure, probably. But the fact that the six fingerwork fundamentals are free from the many subjective fallacies that cut pipers down a out there in the bagpipe world is what's most important. We'll learn what the 6 fundamentals are, and how they'll help you become a great piper, in this course.

How bagpipe fingerwork relates to "real" music

In this course, we'll spend time to carefully study exactly how each element of bagpipe fingerwork 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!

The measurements that matter (and the junk that doesn't)

Rather than searching for "expression," "lift," "light and shade," etc., in this course we'll teach you to measure your Scale Navigation by the absence of the three types of crossing noises. To gauge your gracenote quality based on the consistency of great size and sync. To "build" great expression by learning great micro- and macro-dynamic skills.

How to implement concepts to generate improvement

After each lesson is taught, we'll spend time to carefully discuss how to best-implement what you've learned to generate efficient improvement. Most of us can't spend 3 hours a day drilling fingerwork. So, what can you do in 5-10 minutes per day? The great thing about developing a simple, objective bagpiping skillset is that practicing that skillset can be simple and objective as well!

Learn the Six Fundamentals of Bagpipe Fingerwork Today!

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"As a piper for a service-connected band, I learned to play tunes, but I couldn’t hear the music. Being a member of the Dojo has taught me to “live within the beat.” The art of expression through ALAP and ASAP has shown me that there is so much more to the notes on a page! Thank you!"

Martin Miller
New York, USA

“In today’s technological age, Dojo University has created an educational institution where pipers of all levels can obtain much needed instruction. Offering not only live weekly classes that suit anyone’s schedule, they also have a full back catalog of old lessons covering all aspects of piping.

"Living in Memphis, I am devoid of higher instruction, so the Dojo has given me an extremely affordable outlet where I can learn on my time from some of the top pipers in the world!"

Ken Hiner
Tennessee, USA

Fingerwork Fundamentals Course Details

In this 16-hour course, you'll learn everything you need to know to master the simple, objective fundamentals that make excellent bagpipe fingerwork.


Module 1

Scale Navigation

  • Introduction to Scale Navigation
  • Types of Scale Navigation
    Crossing Noises
  • Types of Crossing Noises
    The "Phantom," and Crossing Noise Diagnostics
  • Implementation and Action Steps

Module 2

Basic Rhythm

  • A Rhythm Overview
  • The Three Key Rhythmic Figures
  • Playing to the Foot
  • Developing an "Inner Framework"
  • Conclusion

Module 3

Gracenote Quality

  • Gracenotes Overview
  • Observing the Gracenote System
  • Simplifying Tunes Using the Gracenote System
  • The Two Essential Gracenote Parameters
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Module 4


  • Embellishments and their Steps
  • Embellishment Steps in Depth
  • The Cardinal Rules
  • Implementation Exercises
  • Embellishment Beat Placement
  • Embellishment Recovery

Module 5


  • Introduction to Bagpipe... Dynamics?
  • ALAP/ASAP Basics
  • Advanced ALAP/ASAP Theory
  • Sizes of ASAP
  • ASAP/Embellishment "Fusion"
  • ASAP Syllable Study

Module 6


  • Pulsing Basics
  • Balancing Pulses
  • ALAP/ASAP vs. Pulsing
    Strong-Weak-Medium-Weak, and the Heavy Left Foot
  • Implementation Exercises
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Module 7


  • Analyze This (Performance Examples)
  • Analyze That
  • Hands-on examples



Just $149


Fingerwork Fundamentals Course:

  • 7 Core Modules
  • 30+ Video Lessons
  • PDF Lesson "Handouts"
  • Quizzes after each lesson
  • Final exam at the end of the course

Course Details:

Tuition: $149
Beginner through Advanced (you should be able to play a few tunes all the way through before attempting).
Course Length:
 15-20 Hours
Expected Completion Time:
 1-3 Weeks


About your instructor

“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 drill into some of the most esstential fundamental elements of bagpipe fingerwork... So glad to have you aboard!"

— Andrew Douglas

  • Founder, Creator, and CEO of the Piper's Dojo and Dojo University
  • 2017 & 2019 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)
  • EUSPBA Adjudicator
  • Certified Teacher and Examiner with the Scottish Qualifications Authority

Frequently Asked Questions

Learn the Six Fundamentals of Bagpipe Fingerwork Today!

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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.