Tutor Books


Bagpipe Solutions by John Cairns has written and developed an innovative bagpipe curriculum. This curriculum has been produced in a series of 18 progressive volumes (or levels). There are 12 volumes for Light Music and 6 volumes for Piobaireachd.

As of today, Volumes 1 to 7 in the light music series and Volume 1 in the Piobaireachd series are available. The next volume to be produced will be Volume 8 in the light music series, followed by Volume 2 in the Piobaireachd series.  After that, we will alternate between one new volume in each series.

If you are interested in purchasing a hard copy (complete with the CD) of any or all of our tutor books, please contact any of the Authorized Retailers that are listed on our website or go to Our Shop on our website.

If you are interested in purchasing an electronic copy (complete with the applicable MP3 files) of any or all of our tutor books, please go to the Downloads section on our website.

What do the books contain?

These tutor books contain detailed material, information and instructions on all of the subject matter that is needed to play a bagpipe, either as a soloist or in a pipe band. The emphasis is on providing every student with a complete bagpipe education, which includes studying:

  • Bagpipe and Pipe Band Drill
  • Bagpipe Maintenance
  • Time and Rhythm
  • Playing Technique
  • Ear Training
  • Music Theory
  • Highland Dress
  • Tone
  • Tuning
  • Pipe Band Training
  • Bagpipe History

Every volume comes complete with over 100 pages of instructions, photos, diagrams, music and progress checklists.

The material contained in each of the tutor books has been written in lesson format, so that the student can work through the material in a progressive manner, understanding each aspect clearly and concisely.

What do the lessons contain?

Every lesson contains information on why the student needs to learn a specific topic, how to study or practice what is contained in the lesson and how to apply this information or skill when playing a bagpipe. Every lesson will also identify specific performance indicators that must be completed or achieved prior to moving on to the next lesson.

What level should I begin at?

The beginning of each tutor book has a list of the skill requirements needed for the student to begin that level. If a student is confident and they have the requirements listed, they can begin at that level. If they do not have the requirements, they would be advised to begin at the level that meets their skill set, even if it means going back to Volume 1 of the series. All of the volumes hold a wealth of information that will continue to be a source of valuable reference for many years to come.

How can I track my progress?

There is a Progress Checklist located at the back of every tutor book. This checklist is a working document designed to help the student (and their teacher) monitor the student’s progress as they work through each tutor book. Before moving onto the next tutor book, the student must complete all of the requirements specified on the checklist. 

What music will I be able to play?

Music has been selected for each level of proficiency that will challenge the student to play at that level. Great emphasis is placed on learning how to read music, and these tutor books work under the premise that once you are able to play the music designated for that level, you will then be able to play any other piece of music at an equal or lower level of difficulty. We have included in each tutor some optional pieces of music that the student can easily learn, as they match the standard of proficiency for each applicable tutor.

Can you explain the requirements and levels?

In the Light Music Series, the requirements for the first six levels of proficiency have been designed to teach the piper everything he/she needs to know to be able to play in a street band and with the massed bands, using the Pipers and Pipe Band Society of Ontario (PPBSO) massed band tune requirements as the bench mark.  The requirements for proficiency levels seven to twelve have been devised to coincide with the PPBSO solo and pipe band grade levels. Once a student has completed all of the requirements for one of these levels, they will be capable of performing at the applicable grade, either in a pipe band or as a soloist.

In the Piobaireachd Series, the requirements for the first level of proficiency has been designed to teach you everything you need to know to be able to play your first Piobaireachd – which could be used in an entry grade level solo competition.  The requirements for proficiency levels two to six have been devised to coincide with the PPBSO solo grade levels. Once you have completed all of the material and tune requirements for these levels, you will be capable of performing at the applicable grade as a soloist.

What will I learn from each tutor book?

Each tutor book will have a paragraph included in the preliminary pages that explains the goals for that specific level and will provide an understanding of what the student can expect to be able to accomplish and what they should know when they have completed that level. 

Do I need to have a teacher?

It is always recommended that students work with a qualified teacher.  However, if the student does not have access to a teacher, this curriculum will enable a student, anywhere in the world, to successfully progress until such time as they are able to find a piping instructor.

What items do I need to begin my training?

Each tutor book will have a paragraph included in the preliminary pages that identifies what items you will require to complete that particular level.

How long does each tutor book take to finish and how long should I practice?

Each tutor book will identify how much time (on average):

  • The student should dedicate for both the study and practice of each lesson
  • It should take the student to work their way through the content of each lesson
  • We estimate that each student should take to complete all of the requirements contained in the tutor book

Are there any audio or video files that correspond with each of the tutor books?

Light music tutor books:   Yes, there is an instructional CD that corresponds with each light music tutor book.  You can download a free digital copy of any instructional CD from the the Downloads section on our website.

Piobaireachd tutor books:  Yes, there is a series of instructional videos and audio recordings that correspond with each Piobaireachd tutor book.  The link to download these files is contained on page 1 of each tutor book.

The audio and video files are examples of the practical requirements contained in each tutor book.  The files have been broken down so you can understand how to complete the requirement at the standard for that level.

As a training aid, the audio and video files will:

  • Provide assistance and support in helping the student to understand all of the practical aspects that are being taught
  • Give the student a measurement tool to determine when they are playing the designated exercises or tunes at the expected standard

You will find a symbol throughout each tutor book that identifies those aspects that have an audio or video example of the material being covered. A number will be written inside the symbol so the student will know which file to access.