learn to play bagpipes or drums

young boy learning to play the bagpipes

You do not need to be Scottish to love bagpipes! Scottish Piping and Drumming is a unique and culturally rich musical style performed around the world. The Nelson Mandela Artillery pipes and drums offer beginner, intermediate and advanced piping and drum lessons and drums, for children and adults. Students learn both solo and band skills while working as a team to improve the band. Why not learn to play the bagpipes or drums?


Before you go out and buy something you don’t need, talk to us. For pipers, you don’t start out on the bagpipes…you begin on a practice chanter. A practice chanter is used by beginning students and advanced players alike. Practice chanters are used by beginners to learn techniques for fingering and blowing. Because pipers need to know their tunes by heart, practice chanters are also used when learning any new tune. Pipe band members practice together using practice chanters, both for practicing old tunes and for learning the tempo and notes to new music. Whether just beginning or an old pro, the practice chanter is essential in the musical progression on the bagpipes. For older kids and adults, a long practice chanter is generally recommended, because the finger hole spacing is more similar to that of on the pipe chanter on the bagpipes. Practice chanters are available in Polypenco plastic or African blackwood. There are advantages and disadvantages to both materials. Polypenco plastic is very durable and easy to clean, as well as considerably less expensive. Some folks feel that blackwood practice chanters, in addition to being nicer looking, sound better, but to others, the difference is barely discernable. We will provide you with a tutor book. Why not learn to play the bagpipes?


Highland drumming is significantly different than marching band or drum corps. Again, talk to us before making a purchase. Highland Drumming, also called Scottish Drumming or Pipe Band Drumming is also taught by the Nelson Mandela Artillery pipes and drums. Like the piping classes, students are offered instruction during the first part of the morning, followed by “band practice” in which the students can participate during the tunes that they have successfully learned. Highland Drumming is a style of percussion accompaniment that is significantly different than most other forms of percussion performance. The most outstanding differences are that the percussion section does not set up a rhythm or “lay down a groove” for the other musicians to follow, and the drum corps (as it is often called) is the only source of dynamics in the band. The drum scores are written to closely follow the rhythms and the “feel” of the tunes, with a primary goal of enhancing the music by reinforcing the pipers’ playing. More so than other styles of music, the drum scores are “harmony” to the music and not simply a repetitive beat that goes on while the band plays. The single bass drummer, as it is well accepted in any style of marching band, is the most key player in the drum corps. In pipe band style, the bass player must have an intimate feel for the tunes and must be rock steady in maintaining a tempo. The side drummers play “pipe band snare drums.” These instruments are high tension marching snare drums, with Kevlar top heads, and with two snare strainer assemblies, one under the top head and one under the bottom head.  High pitched, crisp sound and heavy. The side drums are played with lightweight sticks, for speed and a bright crisp tone.  The tenor drummers each carry a single tenor drum. There are two styles of play for tenor drummers, known as rhythm tenors and flourish tenors. The rhythm tenors play designated scores to augment the overall sound of the drum corps. The flourish tenors are the “show” drummers of the corps, well known for their routines of swinging and spinning their drumsticks while the other drummers play. While some bands have tenors of each type, it is common to see tenor drummers who combine the skills and play some rhythms as well as flourish. The Nelson Mandela Pipes and Drums provide basic percussion instruction to beginners, as well as a promise to challenge experienced percussionist. Why not learn to play the drums?

Contact us if you have any further questions


Tuesday Full Band Practice: 18:30 – 21:30

Saturday Full Band Practice: 9:30 – 12:30

Location: The Castle of Good Hope, Cape Town