The goal of the Chicago Academy of Piping and Drumming is to marry ideas and influences from multiple sources to create an achievement path and to provide a positive experience for every student. The most obvious of these influences is our extensive experience in the global community of competition pipe bands as players, leaders, and instructors. We have fused this with a methodology that resembles an academic schoolhouse approach to teaching and learning with a diversified course curriculum that educates students beyond just playing the instruments. Students between 8 and 17 participate in the Junior Track, while students 18 and over participate in the Senior Track.
Our students attend weekly classes which are 2-6 students in size. This collective learning environment allows our teachers to present information efficiently, while having a small enough class to ensure that each and every student gets the personal attention necessary to succeed. Our students receive feedback on their skill and musical assignments. We use an online system which allows instructors to provide written notes to help the students, their parents, and our faculty and staff effectively track areas of strength and weakness to ensure success. Students are also encouraged to use the online practice journal to let their instructor know what they've been working on, how frequently, how long, and any concerns that have come up between classes that will help the instructor make the next session more beneficial by addressing every issue before moving into the next material.
When a new student enters the Academy to begin piping, drumming, or drum majoring for the very first time - he or she begins at a primary learning level. At this level we teach fundamental skills, practice methods, and some cultural topics to make them feel at home in the pipe band community. From there students are promoted to Novice status where they begin to learn essential performance tunes, the basics of Scottish music theory, and an introduction to the actual instruments themselves. At the Intermediate level players continue learning additional music, more advanced theory, instrument tuning, and performance skills. Each and every step of the way our faculty and staff conservatively assesses individual progress to ensure that students advance through the system only when they are properly prepared for the next level.
After moving through the essential levels of learning, a student may be invited to play with one of our performing ensembles. This is the active playing component of our program which represents the Academy in public performances as well as competitions against other pipe bands locally, regionally, and internationally. When classes are complete for the night, students are welcome to watch the band rehearse to see their instructors in action, and get a taste of what it will be like to one day stand in the circle and play with the group!