The College of Piping Tutor One
By Seumas MacNeill and Thomas Pearston
The aim of those responsible for the publication of this book has been to present a number of simplified explanations, in carefully chosen steps, so that anyone may easily become a competent performer on Scotland’s national instrument.
Piping learned properly is relatively quite easy. The correct way to do finger movements is the simplest, for obviously only that way can the fast reels and jigs be physically possible. Only those who are taught badly or not taught at all find difficulty in learning the pipes. And yet, with all of its simplicity, the bagpipe is capable of the highest musical expression, being the vehicle of a classical music, Ceol Mor, which is the equal of anything in the world of music. The physical effort involved has also been greatly exaggerated. Many young boys and girls play without difficulty the Great Highland Pipe, and although the effort to learn may be considerable, the instrument should always be comfortable to play.
The movements and tunes in this book have been described in great detail, partly because of the importance of building a firm foundation, and also that it will be possible for anyone to follow easily each step, even if someone is unable to obtain any other help. Teachers of piping will find that they can save themselves a lot of what is sometimes tedious explanation, especially in the teaching of staff notation, while those in charge of juvenile bands can change what is usually a rushed job into one of competent, easy achievement.
This tutor book is the result of the experiences of the Senior Instructors of the College of Piping, combining many years of personal teaching experiences and ideas. Some teachers may find that they might not agree with absolutely every detail in the work, but they may rest assured that most alternatives have been carefully considered.
After its first publication in 1953, the College of Piping’s Tutor 1 has easily become the most successful instructional book for the Highland Bagpipe, with sales now approaching the half million mark. Since the “Green Tutor” first appeared, there have been advancements in teaching techniques and digital technology, as well as the creation of other piping institutions and educational establishments. Seumas MacNeill in the 1970’s, along with John MacFadyen and John MacLellan, created the Institute of Piping, which was instrumentally responsible for the establishment of a system of piping examinations leading to the first appointments of full time salaried teachers of piping in Scotland’s educational system. In turn, the Institute developed into what is now the Piping and Drumming Qualifications Board, (PDQB), an organisation which comprises the five main educational establishments in Scotland, and whose educational qualifications are now fully accredited by the Scottish Qualifications Authority.
In 2017, the “Green Tutor” was edited, keeping faithfully to its original flow and integrity, in order to bring it into line with these PDQB/SQA guidelines. Students will now have fully explained lessons which will track the PDQB/SQA standards and examinations. It is of great advantage to pipers both in Scotland and other countries to gain the academic currency which comes along with these qualifications. Detailed information and syllabi are contained in an appendix at the end of the book.
The tutor also incorporates passages of video examples and instruction for all 27 lessons. These are available for use free of charge on the College of Piping website:
Colin R. MacLellan, Director of Piping,
The College of Piping, Glasgow.