The holiday known as “Bagpipe Appreciation Day” is observed every year on July 27. The bagpipes, which historians believe originated in ancient Egypt and were brought to Scotland by the invading Roman soldiers, are a woodwind instrument that uses enclosed reeds that are fed air continuously from a bag-like reservoir.
These instruments are now ingrained in Scottish culture, and could frequently be heard during battles, funerals, parades, marriages, and even royal ceremonies. Scottish soldiers often marched into war to the tunes of bagpipes, and the Great Highland bagpipes were notorious because their volume was rumored to be heard as far as 10 miles away.
Bagpipes have experienced a comeback in popularity in recent years, fueled by revivals of local folk music and dance. In the UK, the Great Highland bagpipe has been adapted to create a new interpretation known as the bagad, which is a band composed of bagpipes, bombards and drums.
Although it used to be that one of the bagpipes primary functions was to provide music for dancing, this has shifted recently. The bagpipes are now performed at more formal settings and have become more of a performance-driven tradition.
Looking for a few ways to honor this unique instrument? Here are some ways to celebrate on Bagpipe Appreciation Day.
TRY PLAYING THE BAGPIPES
Playing the bagpipe is probably the best way to honor Bagpipe Appreciation Day. If you don’t want to purchase a bagpipe, you could always find somebody who has a bagpipe and ask if they’ll help teach you. People are often eager to share their unique passions with others, especially if it’s surrounding cultural traditions.
VISIT A MUSEUM
Get acquainted with the history of bagpipes by visiting a museum. Examine bagpipe artifacts and discover their unique cultural importance. Options are limited, but the Bagpipe Place in Delafield, Wisconsin offers a variety of resources and an unparalleled trove of information.
ATTEND A BAGPIPE FESTIVAL IN SCOTLAND
In the past, we have had ensembles travel to Scotland to participate in the World Pipe Band Championships. This festival, which takes place annually in August, features hundreds of pipe bands from around the world, all vying to take home the trophy.
CHECK OUT A HISTORY BOOK
If you enjoy reading, visit your local library (or Amazon) and take out a few books about Bagpipes! Some great options include:
- The Book of the Bagpipe by Hugh Cheape
- Bagpipe Method by Hal Leonard
- Bagpipe: Webster’s Timeline History, 591 BC – 2006 by Icon Group International
- Music of the Great Highland Bagpipe: Chronological Changes in Piobaireachd Structure and Piping Repertoire by Michael E. Akard
This blog post is part of a series linked to our Music Celebrations Around the World calendar. Download the calendar for access to information about musical celebrations and holidays with strong musical components to share in your music classroom or with your ensemble members! Music + Travel = Encore Tours.