Ted Kerrn, Bagpiper

Formal Wear PiperEwing ManorGrace

Hello, I assume you've reached this page because you have an interest in bagpipes. Welcome to my webpage! I am a bagpiper located in central Illinois.  I've played many events in locations throughout the the midwest as well as internationally.  I hope this page helps answer any questions you have about bagpiping. It's not meant to be a fancy page, just informative.

About me:

My musical experience began in my early youth with piano lessons and playing saxophone in the grade school and high school bands. After an extended period away from an active role in music I began playing the bagpipe in  2002.  I was taught by some of the finest bagpiping instuctors in Illinois and beyond.  I've attended piping schools including The Balmoral School, The Milwaukee School, and The Midwest School. My instructors have included famous international bagpipers. The last thirteen years have included a wide variety of  bagpiping experiences including playing with four bagpipe bands.  I've played with Celtic Cross Pipes and Drums of Central Illinois, Prairie Thistle Pipes and Drums of McLean County, Illinois, St. Andrew's Society of Central Illinois Pipes and Drums, and Illinois State Police Pipes and Drums.  I should also add that in  the Fall of 2012 I was a guest piper with Dutch Pipes and Drums, Tilburg, The Nethelands, for their performance at the Dutch National Military Tattoo in Rotterdam. The opportunity to play with my Dutch friends is a wonderful memory.

During my thirteen years of bagpiping I've been involved in playing many solo and band events.  I am the founder of Prairie Thistle Pipes and Drums of McLean County, Illinois and pipe major of that band.  I am a former pipe major of Celtic Cross Pipes and Drums of Central Illinois. In addition to my band activities I provide private bagpipe lessons to beginners who aspire to become band members and am proud to have taught several very accomplished bagpipers in the central Illinois area.  Piping and drumming with a band is fun and very rewarding. Our band plays parades, shows, festivals, and many other types of events. Recently, our band performed in concert at Bloomington, Illinois with Gaelic Storm and The Chieftains.  I've played numerous band competitions as a competitive piper and have served as pipe major leading the band in competitions as well as the other types of performances. My instruction is based on proper playing technique, and I've competed in bagpipe solo and band competitions in the Eastern United State Pipe Band Association and Midwest Pipe Band Association. In 2005 I played with Celtic Cross Pipes and Drums in Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association competition at the World Pipe Band Championships in Glasgow, Scotland. Playing with a pipe band is immersion into a new culture, meeting new friends, and having fun -- something I've really enjoyed over the years.

Learning to play:

If you're interested in learning to play bagpipes I'd be happy to help get you started.  If you want to play bagpipes you first need to know a few important tips in order to avoid the pitfalls in acquiring this wonderful hobby:

1.    Stay away from E-Bay!!!!!!!! Most of the piping equipment/instruments/etc. on E-Bay is junk, a scam or both. I've conducted group lessons for new pipers, and it is sad to see excited new piping students arriving proudly carrying in the E-Bay junk they bought.  You will need quality equipment to make learning easier, fun, and productive.  E-Bay is a minefield where many prospective pipers' hopes of playing have been destroyed by the unscrupulous selling of impossible to play junk. Also, a local music shop will sometimes insist they can order bagpipes and associated equipment. The truth is they likely know nothing about bagpipes or bagpiping. What they will order for you is the same junk sold on E-Bay. Forget the local music shop. I will guide you on what you should purchase (I'm not in the business of selling or profiting on equipment/supplies).There are a number of reputable retailers who sell pipe and drum supplies. Some of these are The Piper's Hut, Barr 1 Highland Supply, and Henderson Imports. There are several others. These shops are run by people who have experience and know piping and drumming. These vendors are the ones the real pipers and drummers use for instruments and supplies. However, don't buy anything from anyone until you consult with your instructor.

2.    You do not learn to play bagpipes by playing bagpipes.  You will not need a bagpipe for many months after you begin instruction.  Learning to play bagpipes is done on a quality practice chanter sold by a reputable shop (NO E-Bay junk) and spending hours on practicing on that practice chanter. You will not acquire the ability to play well by spending money on junk, unneeded items, or expensive extras. Forget about buying bagpipes until you are relatively proficient with properly playing at least four or five pipe tunes on the practice chanter. Again, this process takes at least six months for most people and requires practice. Once you can suitably demonstrate proficiency your instructor will let you know when you should begin shopping for bagpipes.

3.    You need an instructor to help you learn to play. I've seen some self-taught pipers and very few were mostly successful in learning the proper basics. Most others did not play properly, could not play real pipe music, and could not play with any reputable bagpipe band. An instructor is crucial as a guide to learning to play.  I provide instructional materials to my students; we do not use any published instructional books. There are some good beginning piping books on the market, but an instructor is still necessary for success. I guide my students on obtaining a practice chanter (our band has the recommended practice chanter available for reduced cost). I also guide my students when they're ready to purchase a set of bagpipes. I do not endorse any particular manufacturer of bagpipes, but will help ensure you get the instrument well-suited to you and ensure it is properly set.  By the way, for those who are wondering, if you've never played an instrument and cannot read music, don't worry. I have taught several very successful pipers with NO musical background and can incorporate learning to read the music into your lessons. Dedication to regular practice is the main obligation for the successful student.  If you decide to be a piper and put forth the necessary effort to be a piper, I'll help you become a piper.

Contact me:

ted@kerrn.net or 309-310-6961