An Introduction to Piobaireachd Technique

Bill steps you through the process of learning Piobaireach Technique, using his well know teaching style, and blending Video, Audio and Text into an easy to use on screen process.

The Piobaireachd Technique Tutorial is mainly to help pipers who are coming into piobaireachd and those who play, to help improve there technique explanation and directions on good technique. By technique we mean embellishments broken down, very methodically, in text , audio and video, to help with the execution and then as normally played. Where applicable the variations are included.


The Piobaireachd Technique Tutorial includes the following:

  • 85 Page PDF document - auto loads from DVD player, with video and audio links to supplemental instruction. The manual can be printed.
  • 53 Video clips = 70 minutes playing time. Improved video's akin to those used for Tune of the Month.
  • 71 Audio clips = 273 minutes playing time.
  • 15 Piobaireachd tutorials with written music transcribed in full to show closely as played and linked to the audio tutorials.

This manual is intended to assist pipers and teachers in the development and correct strong execution of technique and certain groupings of notes including:

  • Embellishments.
  • Variations.
  • Structures.
  • Guidelines.

Download the table of contents and view all the topics taught.

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The below is an example lesson from Bill's Introduction to Piobaireachd Technique manual.

Trills on “E” from lower hand notes.

Listen to Bill's Audio Instruction for Trills on E
Pipe Major Bill Robertson's audio lesson for Trills on E (Lower Hand) extracted from his Introduction to Piobaireachd manual.

Trills on “E” are very important because it forms the latter part of the crunluath movement later. It requires a lot of methodical practise.

Methodically from low “A” first bar sound low “A” on the “&” about a second or two followed by separate “E” and “F” grace notes on “A” which has the dash – to make that low “A”* a shade longer before finishing on the long “E” 3‐‐

Gradually quicken the “E” and “F” grace notes still with separation and now equally on the low “A”, without rising from the second low “A” early. When as played the movement becomes slick yet with a solid rippling sound, both grace notes sounding on low “A”.

Beware as it is a common fault to lift the “E” too early from the low “A” grace note and make the movement too weak.

Trills from “B”, “C”, and “D” are similar to that from low “A” except the “E” grace note is sounded on the way down to the low “A” from the preceding note, not afterwards. All directions otherwise are identical to that immediately above.

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Andrew Wright - Piobaireachd Technique Endorsement

This tutorial from Pipe Major William A Robertson, is in my opinion a tremendous work and contains a vast amount of well thought out and accurate information. Comment and directions are given on the embellishments, variations, and structure of the music which will be of great help to those approaching the music for the first time.

It will also aid the the more experienced or even polished players who might think they can do it all .

Music examples are very clearly written. I was impressed by the adoption of compound time signatures used in many of the scores. This makes much clearer the required pointing and timing of how the music and the embellishments are played. It goes much deeper in to the subject than other tutors.

The whole thing is excellent. I would have no hesitation in recommending it to students

Andrew Wright.

I received the new Piobaireachd Tutorials this past Friday.

I have been going through the DVD of Piobaireachd Technique and I am very impressed with it.

The manual is attractively formatted and easy to navigate. The video links are easy to use. I have gone through almost all of the piobaireachd embellishment video clips and both the oral instruction and the visual demonstration are consistently easy to follow. I found myself playing along with you in the video clips – and it was easy to do so.

This is absolutely the best tool I have seen for explaining and showing piobaireachd technique. Overall outstanding!!!

I will be recommending it to my fellow band members and to any of my students who are interested in learning piobaireachd.

The Late Tamar Stephens

As always, I am very impressed with your tutorial. Having it CD/DVD format rather than print is like having an instructor in my pocket (or briefcase) that I can carry around with me in my travels. Many people are travelling with laptops these days, and with the strict limitation on luggage weight it makes much more sense to carry the thin and lightweight disc rather than a heavier, bulkier book.

That said, the fact that you allow for printing and self-binding is a nice bonus. That way, I can have the book at home and still have the material on disc when I travel. It is also a nice feature having everything linked together on the disc, so things are just a click away.

While there are some tutorials out there that include an audio disc, I think it's your videos that really bring home the instruction. Being able to SEE, as well as READ and HEAR what you are explaining, makes all the difference in the world.

1. Reading: What is it that I'm supposed to do??

2. Hearing: Ah, ok, that's what it sounds like. But why don't I sound like that? What does he mean by what he says?

3. Seeing: Ah HA! So THAT'S what his fingers are actually doing!

I had said once before to you that the reworking of the Piobaireachd that you do, to present it in written form as played is essential. The Binneas book does this, but again, you must lug around a large, heavy book and get used to reading music with staff lines missing – not easy for everyone to do.

The tutorial is an essential tool for the piping student who wishes to delve into the world of Piobaireachd but cannot find a local instructor and is also an essential tool for a student with an instructor as it provides additional help and information to reinforce what he or she is being taught.

Finally, to me, the video clips are the best feature of the tutorial. They really help to clear away the clouds.

Thank you again for sharing this with me and for all of the help you have given me over the years we have known each other!

Mark Falzini

The DVDs arrived today. The Piobaireachd tutorial is excellent, really well set up, easy to follow, very professional video links. Truly a great step up. Very well done!

Pipe Major Brett Tidswell

  • Principal of Piping of the Australian Pipe Band College.
  • Twelve times winner of the RU Brown Piobaireachd Society Gold Medal.
  • He also plays during the Scottish competition season with the Strathclyde Police Pipe Band, 20 times World Pipe Band Champions.

I wanted to thank you again for your lessons on the throw on d, the leamluath and the taorluath.  I realize that I had learned the timing and emphasis on the gracenotes incorrectly. 

After playing along with you in the tutorial, I now understand the the position, emphasis and timing of these notes in the embelishment correctly.  I will have to relearn these embelishments to sound correctly.  A small price to pay to sound correct.   I could never understand why my throw on d always sounded different when i listened to other pipers.  Now i know why.

Thanks again for these great lessons.  

kind regards,