Get the Pipe Major Off Your Back!

Introducing a Dojo University 'Core' Course: Rhythm for Bagpipers

Featuring a step-by-step, easy to replicate process, Rhythm for Bagpipers will empower you to confidently play tunes with great timing, no matter how recently you started learning to play.

Course Details
Enroll Now

Are you an eager learner who's learning to read bagpipe music for the first time?

Are you an established piper who struggles to hit the beat or stay in time with your bandmates?

Are you a pipe major who wants to brush up your own rhythm knowledge so you can better lead your band?

Are you a bagpipe instructor, wanting to compare how our world-class team guide other pipers through this essential piping skill?


Have you ever been told that you're 'rushing', 'ahead of the beat', or 'playing too clunkily'? 

Those are all different ways of saying you need to work on your rhythm

Rhythm is the most essential fundamental skill for any musician to master – and yet, many pipers never explicitly learn how to read and play with good rhythm. 

It's also the underlying cause for many other issues that you might experience – like crossing noises, issues with sight-reading and memorization, and many more. 

Pipers at every level of experience and ability will find essential knowledge, valuable resources, and replicable methods in this core Dojo University online course.

Join me and my team of world-class piping instructors as we take you on an in-depth journey through the theory and practicalities of mastering rhythm for bagpipers.

Featuring a step-by-step, easy to replicate process, Rhythm for Bagpipers will empower you to confidently play tunes with great timing, no matter how recently you started learning to play.

Rhythm should be the simplest and most fun of all bagpipe fundamentals...

Disheartened when trying to get the hang of bagpipe rhythms?

It shouldn't be that way! Rhythm should be the simplest and most fun of all bagpipe fundamentals!

I have always taught that rhythm is the absolute bedrock of bagpiping fundamentals.

Yet, pipers all over the world are disheartened and lacking confidence with rhythm.

Something that should feel effortless, playful and fun is causing frustration and failure.

Some pipers give up entirely as a result of not being able to "feel it"!

And to top it all off? I've never (I mean never) seen rhythm taught comprehensively, in a system that's both easy to follow and easy to practice.

For several months, as I developed this rhythm course specifically for bagpipers, I asked many of our students: What sort of struggles do you have with rhythm?

From their responses, I compiled a list of common issues. Do any of these apply to your piping? 

  • "I want to be able to figure out a tune without having to hear it first, but the rhythm always majorly throws me off."
  • "I want to learn to play up to tempo with the band. So far, I can't keep up."
  • "I'm always told that I'm rushing but I don't know how to fix it."
  • "I feel like if I can just get the basics of strathspeys, jigs, etc., I'll be able to finally get my feet under me as a bagpiper."
  • "I have trouble tapping my foot and/or marching while playing."
  • "I should be able to tap out the rhythm of a tune before I play it, but I never really can."
  • "I can play the notes as written, but I'm still missing how it's "supposed to be played."
  • "My rhythm is too mechanical and I don't know how to fix it."

The truth is, there are only three elements that make up the rhythmic structure of all beat-based music (especially all beat-based bagpipe tunes). If we can understand and control these three elements, which isn't really that hard, then we're all set to go!

And I'll give you a hint - the scary rhythmical words we hear all the time (like "time signatures," "compound rhythms", "16th notes," "syncopation," etc, etc, etc...) don't really rank very high on the priority list.

Are they important? Eventually, sure! But, we'll be able to "tick them all off" the checklist as we explore the basic three dimensions of rhythm together in this course.

Rhythm For Bagpipers should be the first step for any developing piper. 

From there, the sky is the limit!

What You'll Learn in This Course

Play any tune without having to hear it first, and understand how each tune-type is "built"

Marches, strathspeys, reel, jigs, hornpipes - how do we figure all of this stuff out? The truth is, it all comes (again) from the three dimensions. By the end of this course, no rhythm you see written out on any sheet of bagpipe music will seem too daunting. It's all just the same basic puzzle pieces, arranged in different ways. (And - the puzzle isn't really that hard!)

Never rush again!

Did you know - 99% of all pipers tend to rush the beat? It's just something that is a universal problem for almost all of us! The prescription? Rhythmic accuracy. Rhythmic accuracy means that we train ourselves to be perfectly precise with the beat, each and every beat. By training our accuracy, we'll defeat rushing once and for all. This course shows you how to do that.

Quit fighting with rhythm – understand the "three dimensions"

Quarter notes, eighth notes, dots, cuts, long notes, short notes - and which notes go where? What if I told you not to worry about that stuff any more? The truth is, all of these tricky elements naturally fall into place when you understand the "three dimensions" of all beat-based music. The three dimensions are: Beats per bar, divisions of each beat, and straight vs. swing style. Once we understand this, all of those previously complex rhythmic puzzle pieces will fall into place as a means of documenting, reading, and communicating rhythm comfortably and with precision.

Get the Pipe Major off your back – get tunes up to speed and in unison

The biggest thing holding you back from getting your tunes "up to tempo" and in unison with your band mates doesn't have nearly as much to do with crossing noises, bad gracenotes / embellishments, or lack of expression. It has to do with your comfort and confidence with rhythm. Throughout this course you'll be developing the key ingredients to put rhythmic struggle in the rear-view, and you'll be pleasantly surprised to find that it's easier and easier to keep up with your band. If that's not the case? We'll just give you your money back (see our guarantee below).

Learn to Become Comfortable and Confident with Your Rhythm Today!

Enroll Now

"The new rhythm material by Dojo University is, simply put, truly exceptional. It introduces the student to concepts with a rational and logical method, unlike anything we have used in the past."

John Holcombe
Indiana, USA

"Great course! I reckon this will be the teaching norm for the bagpipes in a few years' time."

Derek Martin
Queensland, Australia

"OK I was a bit of a sceptic – been a competition band piper for a long time – but I had a niggling feeling: my PM sometimes observes, "Stewie, you are getting ahead of the beat!"

"Nothing to lose by doing this course, eh? Well – epiphany! I'm now a complete convert! This is essential foundation for every piper! So few have a natural rhythmic ability – and most of us are not comfortable with a metronome.

"We should ALL be using a metronome EVERY time we practice a tune – become obsessed with your metronome!"

Stewart Wallace
Melbourne, Australia

Module 1

What is Rhythm?

  • Defining Rhythm
  • Defining Beats
  • Defining Tempo
  • Defining the "Groove"
  • Rhythm Workshop Session 1: Covering Some Basics
  • It's All About Quarter Notes
  • Quick Introduction to Metronomes
  • Quiz: What is Rhythm?

Module 2

Quarter Note Modifiers

  • Understanding Quarter Note "Modifiers"
  • Modifier #1: Doubling a Quarter Note
  • Modifier #2: Halving Quarter Notes
  • Rhythm Workshop #2: What if Quarter Notes Were Pizzas?
  • Modifier #3: Adding 50% to a Quarter Note
  • Rhythm Workshop #3: Groove-Based Rhythms in Simple Time
  • Quiz: Quarter Note Modifiers

Module 3

Rhythmic Structure of Bagpipe Tunes

  • Rhythmic Structure, Parameter 1: Beats Per "Musical Idea"
  • Rhythmic Structure, Parameter 2: Number of Divisions Per Beat
  • Rhythmic Structure, Parameter 3: Straight vs. Swing Feel
  • Rhythm Workshop #4: Listening for Rhythmic Structure
  • Time Signatures, Bar Lines, Beaming, Dots and Cuts (It's all about Rhythmic Structure)
  • Recap: How to "strip down" a bagpipe tune to see its basic rhythm...
  • A "Parameter Chart" of Common Bagpipe Tunes
  • Quiz: Rhythmic Structure
Enroll Now

Module 4

Developing Our Bagpipe Rhythm "Chops"

  • Practical 1: Compound Time (Jig Rhythm) 1
  • Practical 2: Compound Time 2
  • Practical 3: "Groove Based" Simple Time (GBST) Exploration 1
  • Practical 4: GBST2
  • Practical 5: GBST3 (Introduction to Sequencers)
  • Practical 6: GBST4
  • Practical 7: Strathspey Rhythm Development 1
  • Practical 8: Strathspey Rhythm Development 2
  • Practical 9: Strathspey Rhythm Development 3
  • Practical 10: Reel ("Cut Time") Groove-Based Rhythm Exploration
  • Practical 11: Compound Swing Time (6/8 March Rhythms)
  • Quiz: True or False

Module 5

Rhythmic Accuracy

  • The "Complete Solar Eclipse"
  • Rhythmic Accuracy Workshop
  • Quiz: Help Me Grade These Assignments...

Module 6

Tricky and/or Rare Rhythmic Concepts

  • Tricky Rhythm Stuff - Workshop
Enroll Now


Just $74


Rhythm for Bagpipers Course:

  • The Rhythm for Bagpipers Online Course
  • 6 Core Modules
  • 20+ Hours of "Workshop Style" Instruction
  • Detailed Reference Text to Accompany Workshop Videos
  • Quizzes concluding each module.

Course Details:

Level: Beginner through Advanced (no matter how long you've been playing you'll benefit from a complete bagpipe rhythm re-boot!).
Course Length:
 15-20 Hours
Expected Completion Time: 
1-3 months (depending on how hard you work!)


Why Should You Take This Course?

If you're a soloist...

...this course will add a whole new dimension to your bagpiping experience.

As pipers, the vast majority of us will only ever play the compositions of others. We'll rarely play with other instruments, ever.

With the composition course, you'll be able to explore the rewarding world of creating your own music. You'll be able to create things that are uniquely yours - and it's a great feeling.

The bottom line: It'll bring you a far more enriched bagpiping experience.

This is the exact process I (Andrew) have used to create well-known bagpipe tunes, suites, and medley arrangements.

I've held nothing back in this course. This is the playbook.

So, if you want to:

  • Enhance your enjoyment of piping
  • Create music that's uniquely yours
  • Play with other instrumentalists, arrange medleys, write suites, and more...

...this course is for you.

If you're in a band...

For bands, this course address a very real pain-point - how do we make our music sound unique to us?

How do we make our competition material stand apart from the pack?

How do we put on concerts that are musically exciting, instead of the same old stuff all the other bands are doing?

This composition course puts all of the tools to answer these questions right in your hands. With a little bit of understanding of how bagpipe music relates to the bigger world of music theory, you'll be able to

  • write rich harmonies,
  • create original tunes,
  • produce suites and other great concert material
  • integrate with other types of instruments.

This course will be a huge leap forward for you and your band!

Learn to Become Comfortable and Confident with Your Rhythm Today!

Enroll Now

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 fundamental elements of all music... rhythm! 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 to Become Comfortable and Confident with Your Rhythm Today!

Enroll Now

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.