Bay Area Bagpiper Jay Salter
Jay Salter, Bagpiper jaysalter @ cruzio . com 831.818.0906


I have taught pipes both in group and individual settings for decades. Though I teach mainly those in the Monterey Bay and San Jose areas, students do come for lessons from further up the Peninsula and as far away as Modesto. I have taught pipes to those as young as five and as well-seasoned as seventy-five. I teach all levels from beginning to advanced. I teach members of the same family at the same lesson. In addition to the pipes, I also teach the celtic low whistle (a straight, not transverse, soulful-sounding flute) enabling students to partake of the Irish musical tradition as well as the Scottish vocal, harp, and fiddle traditions (for those tunes that don’t “fit” on the pipes).

As well as instruction I provide challenging and fun performance contexts for my students to play in, with my band, Santa Cruz Pipes and Drums. There are also many opportunities to make music in our informal and inspiring community “jam” sessions. I also provide workshops for my students, and other interested pipers, taught by some of the world’s leading and innovative pipers.

I teach in my studio in Santa Cruz, but can also make house calls if necessary.

I am the founder and director of the Bagpipe and Celtic music program at Santa Cruz High School, one of the few programs of its like in the United States, in which the pipes are taught as an instrument in their own right, along with their repertoire and historical tradition. Students transfer from other school districts in order to study pipes with me at Santa Cruz High and to play in its very active pipe and drum corps. It is often possible too for students at other schools to receive scholastic credit in a course of study of the pipes, and their history, with me in private lessons.

I am the subject of a UCLA PhD ethnomusicological dissertation by Gina Fatone on my use of the traditional technique of using the ancient onomatopoetic sol fa system of Canntaireachd to teach the pipes: Making Hands Sing: Vocal-to-Motor Transfer of Melody Within Classical Scottish Highland Bagpiping..., 2002.

Learning the pipes, as with any instrument, is a journey into the landscape of oneself, as well as into that of the music and its tradition---a combined landscape. Everyone is different and everyone moves at their own pace in this landscape. Having taught for decades I am able to recognize and work with each student’s particular needs, and am committed to not only getting them onto the Big Pipes, and in refining their technique and expanding their repertoire, but also in helping them make discoveries about music in general. After a lifetime of performance on and study of the instrument---its literature and its cultural context---I can offer much more than a rote, one dimensional approach to the pipes.

Many of my students are prize-winning competitors, with some now making careers out of celtic music.

©2016 Jay Salter