If you aspire to one day master the Great Highland bagpipe, you’ll need to begin by learning the practice chanter inside and out. Virtually every skilled bagpiper you’ll come across spent countless hours with his or her practice chanter before trying their hand at the Great Highland bagpipe. Even after moving onto the bagpipe, some musicians continue to revisit the practice chanter on a regular basis. Although high-end practice chanters aren’t exorbitantly expensive, they aren’t exactly cheap, either. As such, a practice chanter should be viewed as an investment and cared for accordingly. Aspiring bagpipers who want to make their practice chanters last would do well to heed the following tips.
Unlike the Great Highland bagpipe, a practice chanter is a very compact instrument. That being the case, it’s very easy to misplace and lose track of. To ensure that your chanter can always be found, take care to store it in a special case – and place the case in an area where it’s immediately visible. A protective case will also help keep dirt, dust and inspects away from your chanter. Because of their small size, practice chanters are often stepped on, sat on and lost. Fortunately, a little bit of effort on the part of musicians can prevent their chanters from becoming unexpectedly lost or broken.
Apply New Hemp as Needed
If the top portion of your chanter has recently become lose or become detached, it may be time to replace the hemp which binds it to the instrument. While very strong in its own right, hemp deteriorates over time, facilitating the need for periodic replacement. Luckily, binding hemp is affordable on any budget and very easy to find. Whether you’re in the market for un-waxed or pre-waxed hemp, you should have no problem purchasing it for under $20. Incidentally, pre-waxed hemp is purported to last much longer than its un-waxed counterpart. If you’re unclear on which type of hemp best suits your chanter, have a look at the instrument’s owner’s manual or consult the manufacturer’s website for recommendations.
Exercise Caution When Disassembling
When it comes to practice chanters, the adage “Haste makes waste” couldn’t be truer. Many musicians inadvertently damage their chanters when disassembling them. This is why it’s important to follow the manufacturer’s disassembly instructions to the letter. Furthermore, make an effort to be as slow and meticulous as possible when taking your chanter apart. Failure to do so can result in considerable damage to your reed and/or mouthpiece, thus forcing you to replace them prematurely.
If mastery of the Great Highland bagpipe is what you seek, there’s no way around becoming intimately familiar with a practice chanter. Even after working your way up to the bagpipe, odds are you’ll still get a fair amount of use out of your chanter. For this reason, it’s imperative that you keep it in good condition. In the interest of preserving your practice chanter, remember to properly store the instrument, apply new binding hemp as needed and exercise immense caution when taking it apart.