Douglas co-authored the book with Queensland’s Camille Layt (President and Pipe Sergeant of the Brisbane Pipe Band) over the course of the last year.
Jim McGillivray, one of the most successful pipers in North American history and author of the popular bagpipe tutorbook Rhythmic Fingerwork, has written the foreword for the book, and many big names in international piping have provided endorsements.
Finding Bagpipe Freedom launched on 4 July 2021, and you can order copies through the Dojo University website.
The book aims to help pipers at all levels understand how to ‘achieve bagpipe freedom’ through a logical, simple-to-follow process, all told through an entertaining collection of anecdotes and advice.
Rather than reading like a text book or an exercise book, Finding Bagpipe Freedom takes a wider view, exploring how to learn and applying these basic learning concepts to the bagpipes. Pipers who encounter frustration with their development can instead feel empowered to understand how to master their own progress through the concepts explored here, and feel ‘free’ when creating music.
The authors intended for this to be a book you can sit down with after a long day and actually enjoy reading. It is accompanied by a complementary audiobook and a range of online supplementary materials for readers who want to explore the book’s concepts in more detail.
Praise for Finding Bagpipe Freedom from several piping greats:
“Finding Bagpipe Freedom presents an innovative approach to a staged improvement, using techniques developed by the author Andrew Douglas. 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
(12-time world champion Pipe Major of Field Marshal Montgomery Pipe Band, MBE and two honorary doctorates for services to piping and drumming)
“Rhythm, technique, music. Focus, patience, dissection. But the greatest of them all is rhythm, and that is where Finding Bagpipe Freedom starts. It reflects much of what I have learned myself playing and teaching over more years than I’d care to mention. I could have avoided much pain if I’d been brought up with this method – so clearly outlined, and so clearly successful. Pipers at any stage who follow this method will improve, and, crucially, they will enjoy their music all the more whilst doing so.”
DR JACK TAYLOR
(Gold Medallist and long-serving former President of the Piobaireachd Society)
“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.”
PIPE MAJOR ROBERT MATHIESON
(Five-time world champion Pipe Major of Shotts and Dykehead Pipe Band)
“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.”
PIPE MAJOR ALAN BEVAN
(Pipe Major of Simon Fraser University Pipe Band, winner of Gold and Silver Medals at the Northern Meeting and Gold Medal at the Argyllshire Gathering)
“Finding Bagpipe Freedom is fresh, fun to read and very thorough. There are many golden nuggets there for pipers at all levels.”
(Six-time world champion Pipe Sergeant of Simon Fraser University Pipe Band, winner of Highland Society of London Gold Medals, the Clasp at the Northern Meeting, the Canadian Gold Medal, and the first North American piper to win the Glenfiddich Solo Piping Championship)
“The first thing that jumps off the pages of this book is Andrew’s passion for teaching. His boundless enthusiasm combined with years of experience has fully equipped him to be able to offer sound advice backed up by a range of strategies which provides pipers of all abilities with a roadmap to self improvement. He challenges pre-existing guidance where needs be with new tried and tested methods focusing on rhythm, careful technique, melodic development, tuning and instrumental comfort and control. Above all this book confirms that learning should be fun and enjoyable and regardless of our current standard we can all achieve musical freedom while journeying on the road to continual improvement.”
RODDY MACLEOD MBE
(Former long-serving Principal of the National Piping Centre and Director of the Piping Live! Festival, long-time pipe major of Scottish Power Pipe Band, five-time winner of the Glenfiddich Piping Championship, awarded an MBE and several other awards for services to piping, including the City of Glasgow Lord Provost’s award, Glenfiddich Spirit of Scotland Award for Music, and being inducted into the Scottish Traditional Music Awards Hall of Fame)
“From psychology 101, musicianship, a new outlook, as well as better instrument control and set up, Andrew and Camille have written an easy-to-follow guide to being a better, self reliant musician. They impart skills and advice that will take pipers from the ordinary to a self confident, capable performer in a well written, simple, understandable format.”
(Principal of the Australian Pipe Band College and of the School of Piping, Adelaide, Australia, 12-time winner of the R U Brown Piobaireachd Society Gold Medal)
“An in-depth and thought provoking reflection, drawn from Andrew’s own personal journey of competing at the highest level of highland piping. A worthy read.”
(Owner of Blair Bagpipes, inventor of the Blair Digital Chanter, Grade 1 piper (formerly of world-champion Victoria Police Pipe Band), prolific composer, winner of the RU Brown Piobaireachd Society Silver Medal)
“Finding Bagpipe Freedom is a unique and vital addition to the canon of bagpipe tutorial literature. Through incisive analysis, Andrew Douglas has crafted an original method of self-improvement for pipers at all stages of their learning. Experienced professional teachers of the pipes may recognise some of the approaches and wisdom of Douglas’ methods and insights, but this book goes well beyond the goldmine of helpful, practical advice it offers – it refreshingly takes the reader on a journey, building fundamental skills, instilling player confidence, and ultimately achieving bagpipe freedom. If you only own one bagpipe tutor book, make it this one!”
(Head of Pipes and Drums, Scotch College, Australia, prolific bagpipe music composer, world champion Grade 1 piper with Victoria Police Pipe Band)
“This is a perfect read for any musician, let alone piper, who might have plateaued in their progress to musical satisfaction. Modern band teaching methods have encouraged mediocrity and the very subject of what Andrew Douglas talks about. 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 ‘THE CAPTAIN’ ELLER
(15-time Grade 1 winner of the North American Pipe Band Championships (78th Fraser Highlanders and the Clan MacFarlane Pipe Band), world-renowned teacher.)
“Andrew Douglas’s Finding Bagpipe Freedom is an easy-to-read guide to being better at playing and teaching bagpipes. Playful, engaging, and using relatable examples and analogy from everyday experiences, Douglas has crafted something that is going to be useful for anyone who has interest in playing bagpipes, teaching or leading a pipe band.”
(Pipe Major and founder of City of Regina Pipe Band, Director of Piping at the Regina Conservatory of Performing Arts, Accredited Bagpipe Teacher and Examiner with the Scottish Qualifications Authority, Owner of ReelPipes.com)
“Finding Bagpipe Freedom embraces a wide variety of focussed, step-wise practice approaches, while commanding a firm grip of music fundamentals and their layering in performance. I found it a compelling and passionate push for pipers to improve musical comprehension, enhance expression and articulation, and perhaps most importantly, find joy in pursuing musical freedom. In a tradition prone to rigid and ineffective instruction, this is an indispensable volume for aspiring players and a must for instructors of the bagpipe.”
DR MATTHEW WELCH
(Musicologist and composition expert (DMA, Yale University), Grade 1 piper formerly with Simon Fraser University Pipe Band, Author of A New Compleat Theory, Leader of Blarvuster ensemble)
“This is truthfully the first ever bagpiping instructional that puts all aspects of bagpiping into easy to understand, everyday language. From the complete beginner, to the most advanced, all will gain something from this. Thank you to Andrew and Camille for producing this incredible book. I believe this will have a huge impact on how we approach our learning, our playing and overall enjoyment of the music. Finding Bagpipe Freedom is possible, and with this easy to follow resource, we will see future generations filled with able musicians enjoying our incredible music.”
(Host of The Big Rab Show podcast and BBC’s Kintra program, competitive drummer across three decades with Ulster Scot pipe bands, learner piper)