View Full Version : Practice Chanter - on or off the table/knee?

22-01-07, 06:45 AM
Hi everyone...

I'd like to know if it's a good technique to practice with the practice chanter off the table or knee, so its supported by your hands...

i find this forces you to strengthen your fingers and to pull your technique open more to get it crisp clear...


Thanks in advance!



22-01-07, 09:04 AM
Personally, I feel , that by Not supporting the weight of the chanter your taking away some of the ability to allow your individual fingers to act as levers, especially in beginners....where the natural tendancy is to Curl the fingers about the chanter. I find my ability to finger is adversely affected, while on the pipes, there isnt a weight/ hold or drop feeling with the chanter once you've advanced beyond beginning on the pipes.. :) along te same "beginner lines" they have to be careful not to hold the chanter to erect and block the chanter either.. Posture at the table is something thats addressed By Most instructors early on.. NO?

22-01-07, 10:03 AM
I was taught that if the chanter is propped on your knee or the table, it allows you to have a lighter grip. Since newcomers tend to have a death grip on the chanter this will make it easier to correct.

Placing the chanter on the table will allow the instructor/PM better opportunity to watch the fingers to help out any mistakes too.

Dennis :Ceith:

22-01-07, 11:39 AM
"Regular" chanters....always on the table.
"Long" chanters...always on the table, or on the knee. I have to play mine on my knee because the table is too high and my head is thrown back.

Plus, when it's on the table, the instructor can better see your fingers. :bgt:

Scarlet O'Hair
22-01-07, 12:02 PM
Well jeeze Phyx, we can always pile a couple of chairs up for you if you'd like!! :bg:

22-01-07, 01:09 PM
IF a student can't rest it on the table comfortably, I get them to sit on a couple cushions to raise them up. Always on the table unless it's impossible.

22-01-07, 01:34 PM
Well jeeze Phyx, we can always pile a couple of chairs up for you if you'd like!! :bg:

LOL....nah...then I'd have to get a foot rest to keep my feet from swinging around when I attempt to mark time. Someone could get kicked in the shin or something...:bg:

A. Shack
22-01-07, 01:50 PM
On the table, to allow the P/M to see fingers. Adjust yourself as necessary to be comfortable.

As to curling fingers around the chanter being a beginner's tendancy, I find it (in my case) to be the opposite. When I was beginning, my fingers were board-stiff and I would lift them very high off of the chanter. I worked quite a bit on relaxing them, letting them curl and lifting only as high necessary to allow for clean execution.

22-01-07, 05:01 PM
You might want to check out my website (beginners page) for more info but basiclly the practice chanter sits on the table with the arms OFF the surface of the table.
If you use a long practice chanter and find this difficult then use two or more chairs to raise yourself up.

Chanter - ON the table and elbows OFF the table.
(chanter resting on your knee - no probs, but NO TABLE in front of you).

22-01-07, 05:05 PM
Thanks for your replies people =)

I was just doing some experimenting this morning and found it more intense to play with the chanter handheld... then again, i also got a wrist ache because of it :bg:

I thought i heard a piper, which i've got a lot of respect for, saying something about practising with your chanter handheld... but i'll ask him and if so i'll let you know what he said about it =)



Scott Foster
22-01-07, 05:19 PM

I was taught to always hold the chanter in your hands....NEVER rest it on a table or your knees. This helps to build arm, wrist, knuckle and finger strength. Try it some more. It might hurt in the beggining but you will notice a difference in the clarity of your notes. Having your chanter on a table is a crutch! Do you ever play your pipe chanter on a table?....... It's only making you rely on a solid surface that otherwise you wouldn't use when your playing your bagpipe.


22-01-07, 05:35 PM
on the table....we get to see your mistakes,as well as hear them, and you're going to be within striking distance of the sole of your teachers PC when you make a mistake.:scarl: :wink: LOL

22-01-07, 05:46 PM
"Regular" chanters....always on the table.
"Long" chanters...always on the table, or on the knee. I have to play mine on my knee because the table is too high and my head is thrown back.

Plus, when it's on the table, the instructor can better see your fingers. :bgt:

Another option wold be to cuts the legs down on the table.........OR so your mom doesnt ge postal, you could cut four holes for trhe table legs into the floor!!! a 1/4 turn to the right with the table and the holes allow thable to slip down, lift and a 1/4 turn and the table is at full eating height ...Woohoo!! Patent that idea

22-01-07, 06:09 PM
I put mine on my upper thigh, near my front pants pocket -- it puts my hands in a position most similar to the actual chanter. Playing on the table makes me twist my hands which puts a lot more strain on them and actually causes pain.

Holding it would be bad, it seems, because it would require a lot of tension in the thumbs -- when I play my bagpipe I can even remove my lower thumb from the chanter as I play various notes because the bag holds it in place.


22-01-07, 06:10 PM
Thanks Mr. Foster!

At least SOMEONE who sort of aggrees with me :bg:

I'd also like to clarify that for me personal, teaching is not the matter...
I don't get tuition (yet) (never really have), so i can hold it however i want, i was just wondering on what's the best way to prepare tunes for the bagpipe...

In this context i totally follow Mr. Fosters' train of thought...



22-01-07, 06:12 PM
On the table. That's what my instructor says. The pipe chanter is self-supporting, being held in place by the bag/stock so there is no reason to grip it tightly. By wedging the PC on the table or against my thigh I am told the goal is to simulate the feeling of playing a regular chanter as closely as possible to develop muscle memory. There is no need to develop muscle memory for holding the weight of the chanter and playing at the same time.

Personally unless I grip the PC with my teeth I cannot play it for very long freestanding as I'll soon start my my lower hand death grip. Since I slip back into this mode regularly enough, I have to do all I can to stay away from activities that automatically put me there - B-taorluath's notwithstanding.

22-01-07, 06:20 PM

While it might build finger strength, remember, that when you're piping, you're not holding up the chanter--the bag is, you're just moving your fingers on it. If you're holding up your pipes by the chanter, I think you might need to turn 'em right side up. :mutley:

Seriously though, there's no reason I can think of to hold the chanter like that. You're going to develop tension in the forearms, wrists, and the tendons at the backs of your hands, not to mention cramping in the palms of your hands.

You should be playing the chanter (pipe or practice) with as relaxed a grip as possible while still maintaining control over it, IMO. Granted, I'm guilty of strangling the chanter every once in a while too...:bg:

22-01-07, 10:21 PM
I always insist my students rest their chanter on the corner of the bar!

Fred Fomm
22-01-07, 11:25 PM

all replies here fairly much covered the issue, so I'm gonna hijack the thread a bit and propose a funny trick - how to play a 'bag-less bagpipe'.

Once you've mastered the circular breath technique, get two chanters (matching tune) and tape over the holes of one of them leaving only the last (low A) open. Now put both chanters in your mouth, the taped one pointing to the side, and march around playing the other one normally.

For this 'exercise' you'll need a very firm chanter grip; if you manage to do it, all the rest flows downhill!!!


22-01-07, 11:51 PM
Always been an "on the table" person...

A. Shack
23-01-07, 01:20 PM
I always insist my students rest their chanter on the corner of the bar!

Awesome :yourock:

23-01-07, 10:07 PM
Our PM says on the table but I rest on my knee cos he keeps banging the table to keep time while we are playing - loosens the dentures somewhat. LOL:jeeze:

23-01-07, 10:12 PM
Scarlet says on the table so on the table it is.
Don't want to make her mad at me any more than I usually do.
When playing it at home it on the table or on my knee depending where I'm playing....
I mean it's always on the table

23-01-07, 11:00 PM
Goodness gracious me...

Scarlet, what have you done to these poor wee souls so they've gotten so frightened of your wrath? :bg: