If you want to learn how to play the Irish uilleann flutes, there are three teaching paths you can take. This is assuming you have already purchased a Uilleann Pipes practice set to play.
The first method of enrollment is to get lessons from a teacher in your area. This may seem logical, but finding a Uilleann Pipes teacher will depend on where in the world you live. As traditional Irish music becomes popular and spreads around the world, there are now people interested in playing Irish music at Uilleann Pipes in Japan, Australia, Germany, and the US, to name just a few.
If you live in Ireland, where the pipes originate, it’s pretty easy to get lessons in Dublin, Cork, or Galway. However, even in Ireland you may have trouble finding teachers in Donegal, Kerry or Lietrum. The main pipe association in Ireland is Na Piobairi Uilleann or NPU for short. They have a database of all of their teaching members. They also lead the piping classes at the “Willie Clancy Summer School” which has a full week of teaching Uilleann piping each year. Classes in Dublin during the school term and organize pipeline weekends in Ireland with the help of their members.
If you live outside of Ireland and want to take lessons from a Uilleann Pipes teacher, things get a lot more difficult. Your best bet is to find out where the closest pipe club to where you live is. If you are in the Boston area in the US, for example, there is a Boston pipers club that you can go to for lessons. But if you live in Idaho, USA, you may have to travel hundreds of miles to find a teacher.
The second way to learn Uilleann Pipes is by purchasing a Tutor Book or Tutor on CD / DVD. For the flute player who lives in an area without teachers, this is his main method of teaching himself. There are many self-study tutoring books by Uilleann Pipes on the market today. This shows how popular Uilleann Pipes have become in recent years. Some tutors have been around for many years and provide basic and advanced methods of playing the instrument with melodies for you to play.
The latest tutorial book has an audio CD included in the package. This has the advantage that the student can follow the music both aurally and with the notation. It also helps to tune the tubes and maintain the correct tempo. Some tutorial books also have alternate notation for students who cannot read music. The tutor with the included CD is, therefore, the one that most teachers would recommend to students who do not have the form of face-to-face classes.
DVD and video tutors are now on the market and have the advantage of being able to see on the screen how the DVD teacher is playing the tune. Since DVD and video are recorded in real time, you won’t be able to learn as many tunes as you would from a printed book. You should also be honest with yourself when deciding what skill level you have before making your purchase. If you are a beginner in tubes and buy an intermediate DVD / Video, you will get a big surprise as you may not be able to play anything on it. It can take many years to reach an intermediate level at Uilleann Pipes, so know your skill level before purchasing. Most DVD / Vidio tube tutors come with finger graphs and notation. Therefore, you have the advantage of being able to see the tutor and read the music. DVD and video channeling is now as popular as audiobook tutoring.
The third method that can help you is on the Internet. This can come in many forms, such as: tutoring and information websites, uilleann pipeline blogs, audio pipelines, and video links. some sites are free while others want a fee. Piper videos are put on myspace or Utube and there are many pipe club websites around the world chatting and exchanging tunes with each other over the internet. Some tutors even teach by videoconference.
With all this help available, a budding flutist should be able to find a suitable tutorial method to help him “Learn to Play Uilleann’s Pipes.”