Long ago young aspiring bagpipers studied with an accomplished piper. It could take years to master the multiple techniques required to become a competent piper. Today, learning to play bagpipes is easier because of the practice chanter. You will use it to grasp the fundamentals of breathing, fingering and producing the notes of the scale. With practice, you will soon be ready to start producing the notes of the musical scale, but no actual melodies yet.
The practice chanter resembles a flute, but it has a reed, like an oboe. Its purpose is to introduce people to playing bagpipes. Some people attempt to start out with an actual bagpipe. Most experts agree that this method is futile and frustrating even if you are musically inclined or a trained player of a different instrument.
Finding practice music and lessons will be the next step. It helps if an aspiring bagpipe player can already read sheet music. Bagpipe music has special notations on the score, for different techniques that players must use during the selection. It will be difficult to become proficient at bagpipes until you learn to read music.
Some people can progress from the chanter to the bagpipe on their own. It is easy to find a few free lessons on the Internet at Bagpipe Lessons.com. Many large music stores carry CDs, DVDs and bagpipe sheet music. If you are truly interested in learning to play this instrument well, consider taking lessons from a good piping teacher. Check out bagpipe bands in your area and ask for recommendations. Just like long ago, the best pipers had teachers who helped them master this beautiful instrument, step-by-step.