Northumbrian Smallpipes Tutor

John Liestman's Tutor is now available as a PDF download - in return for a donation of at least 12 GBP to Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders)

Please contact us if you require more information, or for download instructions if you have already made your donation to the charity.

New to bellows?

Putting on the Bellows
Fasten the belt above the waist so that the bellows are just above your right elbow.
Close the rucksack-style buckle on the arm-strap, and open the strap fully.
Put your arm through the strap from above and tighten the strap until it grips your arm firmly but comfortably.
To release your arm, open the buckle by squeezing the sides.
The bellows are supplied with a long belt, please cut to shorten if required. By loosening the screws where the belt is fitted to the bellows wood, it is also possible to make some adjustment to the position.

Connecting the Pipes
Hold the drones and chanter in one hand, in front of your body.
Use your other hand to connect the inlet tube to the bellows.
Put some air into the bag before putting it under your left arm.

Using the Bellows
If you are used to playing the Highland pipes, please note that the pressure used for smallpipes is a lot lower.
Try to avoid using frequent short strokes of the bellows.
Do not operate the bellows in time to the music!
Do not use the bellows to control the playing pressure; use your left arm on the bag for that.

Adjusting the length of the Bellows Tube
You may find that the bellows outlet rubber tube is too long. We suggest you play the pipes for some time before coming to this conclusion. To shorten it, make a lengthwise cut about 15mm long, through the wall of the tube just behind the outlet bush (the part the blowpipe fits into). This will allow you to pull the tube off the bush. Cut off whatever is needed, probably no more than 15mm at one time. To refit the tube, soften the end by dipping it in a mug of boiling water for a few minutes, and then push it on the outlet bush.

More Power to Your Elbow
This comprehensive tutor for bellows pipes, including CD, is available from the Lowland and Border Pipers' Society online shop

Richard & Anita Evans

Makers of Northumbrian and Scottish Smallpipes