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Embellishment Practice Tunes

Embellishment Practice Tunes


Exercises are a good way to improve your embellishments. But basic exercises tend to be monotonous and it’s easy to lose focus. You may also find that something you can play well in an exercise becomes rough once you find it in a tune. An easy way to solve this problem is to find a tune that has a lot of the embellishments you want to practice.

Here at Dojo University it is usually easy to find tunes that feature your embellishment of choice. If you need to work on D-throws, a quick search will turn up a number of tunes. A great tune for D-throws is “Castle Dangerous.” Another good one is “Prince Charles Welcome to Lochaber.” It also has a nice section to work on grips.

Other tunes that provide opportunities to work on grips include: “Siege of Delhi,” “Teribus,” and “When the Battles O’er.” This is also a good tune to work on the C grip from a cut B, a very common passage in bagpipe music.

If a meatier tune is needed for grip work, especially top hand grips, “Pipe Major Sam Scott” is an ideal tune. It also provides an opportunity to work on ALAP/ASAP and note fusion.

Some tunes that work well to practice doublings are “Angus McKinnon,” which also helps with taorlauths, “Flowers of the Forest,” where you can develop birls and grips, and “Shoals of Herring,” which provides an opportunity to work on crossing noises as well.

Exercises work great for building technique, but many tunes themselves are tailor-made to improve a specific embellishment. Finding one of these tunes is as easy as searching for the embellishment that needs work and picking a tune from the list.

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Castle Dangerous
Prince Charles Welcome to Lochaber
The Siege of Delhi
Repertoire Expansion - When the Battle's O'er
Pipe Major Sam Scott
Angus MacKinnon
Flowers of the Forest
Shoals of Herring


David Lairson David has been playing the bagpipes for over 20 years. He is an instructor and soloist with the Palm Beach Pipes & Drums and a member of the U.S. Coast Guard Pipe Band. David is active in the Florida competition circuit, and when he is not practicing or playing he works as a computer technician. He currently lives in sunny South Florida.