Student & Rehersal Information

The Sierra Highlanders Pipe Band is open to people at all levels of musical training who are interested in piping and drumming.

Part of the charter of our organization is to preserve the traditions of Scottish culture and Great Highland pipe band music. One way we do this is by providing free introductory piping and drumming lessons for beginners.

Where do I go to learn?
We meet regularly, every Tuesday night, at St. John’s Presbyterian Church on Plumb Lane in Reno at 6:30pm. (Check before coming to make sure there hasn’t been a change of location or cancellation.) The first half-hour is set aside for students. The remainder of the evening is for the band’s regular rehearsal, which is usually over by 9:00pm. Students are welcome to stay for the whole evening.

Aspiring Pipers

What do I need to get started?
Learning to play the bagpipe will be the most rewarding and frustrating experience of your life.

The bagpipe is first learned on the practice chanter. The chanter is used throughout your piping career for fingering practice and to
learn new tunes. Depending on ability and commitment, the beginner will play the practice chanter for six months to one year, or
longer, before he/she is ready to play the bagpipes. A tutorial is also needed to guide you through the learning process.

The practice chanter you purchase should be made of plastic/polypenco. The “standard length” is usually preferred over “full length”. Countersunk finger holes make it easier to find the correct finger position. The chanter should come with at least one plastic reed. Acceptable brands of chanters include D. Naill, Dunbar, Warmac, or McCallum.

Purchase the Sandy Jones-Beginning the Bagpipe, tutor and cassette, or, the College of Piping Book #1 and cassette. Another
great learning resource manual is the “How To Manual for Learning to Play The Great Highland Bagpipe” by Major Archie Cairns,
CD of London, Ontario, Canada. This manual comes with a CD of Major Cairns playing and describing key chapters of his manual.

How much should I expect to spend?

  • Tutor: Approximate Cost – $25.00
  • Practice Chanter: Approximate Cost – $70.00
    (best deal around is
  • Bagpipes: Approximate Cost: $800 – $2500

Aspiring Drummers

What do I need to get started?
The first thing a drummer needs is a good sense of rhythm!

Drums are first learned on a practice pad, which will also be used throughout your career when learning new pieces or to practice
without driving your family crazy! Drummers graduate to the actual drum based solely on ability – generally between six months to a
year for students new to drumming and music in general. A tutorial is also needed to guide you through the rudiments. We recommend Doug Stronach’s Pipe Band Snare Drum Tutor, volume 1 with the CD-ROM.

The practice pad you purchase should be made specifically for pipe band drummers. They are usually made of hard rubber. An excellent combination Starter Package is available at for $75. It includes Cameron Pro sticks, Medium Cameron practice pad, and Doug Stronach’s Pipe Band Snare Drum Tutor vol. 1 (book and CD-ROM). Or, you may purchase each item separately, but they may end up costing more when you figure in shipping, etc. You will also need to get an electronic metronome, which can be purchased at any music store.

How much should I expect to spend?

  • Tutor: Approximate cost – $36
  • Practice Pad: Approximate Cost – $35
  • Drums Sticks: Approximate Cost – $20
  • Metronome: Approximate Cost – $30
  • Snare Drum: The drums are owned by the pipe band and are checked out to qualifying drummers.

Pipe Band and Bagpipe supply shops

Scott’s Highland Services Ltd.
email at:
Phone (519) 453-0892
Fax (519) 453-6303

Rocky Mountain Highland Supply

The Tartan Thistle
Phone: 1-888-888-9002 (for orders)
Phone: (360) 331-4688 (for general info& enquiries)
Fax: (360) 331-5856


Donald-Gordon’s TartanTown, Ltd.

Everything Scottish
Linville, NC
(704) 733-1399

Scottish Shopper
Seattle, WA
(206) 242-1768

Many new students prefer and benefit from supplemental private lessons. Many of our members are available in Reno, Carson City and South Lake Tahoe. Contact the individual tutors directly to ask about lesson prices and availability.

Private Lessons

Reno area
Burch Palmer, piper (775) 329-7103 or
Ray Palmer, piper (775) 379-1200 or

Carson City area
Rick James, piper (775) 883-2381 or
John LoGiurato, drummer (775) 883-6583 or

South Lake Tahoe area
Sean Cummings, piper (530) 541-8986 or