Chapter 3: Positioning gaita to play. Bagpiper posture.


It is essential that the bagpiper has good posture and holds the instrument correctly.  Paying attention to these two fundamental variables will prevent fatigue as well as muscle and tendon soreness.  In addition, holding the gaita properly will make it easier to play specific musical passages.

As shown in the photograph below, the bass drone is placed on the left shoulder and the bag under the left arm.  The bag should be just under the armpit.  Avoid  squeezing the bag with your forearm since this will produce unnecessary muscle fatigue.

The left hand is placed on the upper part of the chanter.  The fingers and thumb are placed on the following holes:


 THUMB ------------------- Hole on the back side
 FINGER 2 ------------------- 1st hole on the front side
 FINGER 3 ------------------- 2nd hole on the front side
 FINGER 4 ------------------- 3rd hole on the front side


The right hand is, therefore, at the bottom of the chanter. The fingers and thumb are placed on the following holes:

 FINGER 5 ------------------- 4th finger on the front side
 FINGER 6 ------------------- 5th finger on the front side
 FINGER 7 ------------------- 6th finger on the front side
 FINGER 8 ------------------- 7th finger on the front side

Capítulo 3: Colocación de la gaita y postura del gaitero


If the gaita has a tenor drone, it will be placed over the right forearm, unless due to a specific gaita design a different positioning is required.

The first step before blowing any notes consists of the correct positioning of the gaita.  The next step is blowing air into the bag.  Introduce air into the bag by blowing into the blowpipe.  Do it in a  vigorous way but don’t press the bag against your arm while blowing up the bag.  After a certain amount of air has been introduced into the bag, the bass drone will begin to sound.  Continue to inflate the bag and soon the chanter will sound.  Now, you can tune the drone and the chanter as explained in CHAPTER 4.

Notice in the picture above that the chanter is positioned, more or less, in front of the centre of your body.  The chanter faces slightly upwards and leans towards the right.  At first, this position might feel a little uncomfortable and you might tend to incline the bell of the chanter towards your body.  That is to say that the chanter bell would face straight down instead of slightly upwards.  Avoid this position since it is unsightly as well as physiologically inadequate.

The appearance or posture of the gaita player is not the main aim of this tutorial.  However an upright and relaxed position, not stiff, with the abdomen straight and the head facing forward will help significantly to improve one’s performance.