Back is 2013, I did a North American Bagpiping Survey through the College of Piping in order to get some basic insights into who was playing the bagpipes in North America.. We received 493 responses from about 2000 surveys sent out and it was possible to send the survey to a friend who was not on our original list. I assume it is relatively representative sample of the overall piping community although it did skew a bit more male than I would have expected, 84.3% men to 15.0% women, (I assume women pipers had better things to do than to answer silly online questionnaires!).
One of the interesting results came to the question, “at what age did you start to learn the pipes””
90% of survey respondents had been born in North America. (so lets assume minimal data contamination from pre-pubescent Scottish learners).
I am told that the results we have in North America are very different from what is assumed to be the case in the UK. Most people in North America learn the pipes as mature adults. Looking at the chart above, there is a clearly a clearly a big spike for the 0- to 15 year olds, a dip in the 16-25 year bucket where the levels of schoolwork and kilt embarrassment would be high, but look at that “middle aged hump” with tail going all the way out to one brave 76+ year learner.
Thus the beer tent theory holds when we look at real data. There are two distinct groups: the youth and the rest of us in the Middle Aged Onset bucket.
The next post will examine another survey question: if you had the chance to start again to learn the pipes, would take a different approach?”
Until next time.