I have a brand new granddaughter and want to make sure her parents get the totality of the parenting experience.
What is the earliest a child can start learning to play the bagpipes?
Bagpipe playing requires that you blow hard- doing circular breathing- and squeeze with your arms. By the fifth grade, most kids are ready to learn an instrument. Bagpipes are considered a difficult instrument.
As a toddler, blowing a pinwheel helped my daughter blow long, sustained breaths. This was for her to develop breath control for swimming lessons. When Claire was five, I gave her a harmonica.
Claire had two years of piano lessons, followed by two years of violin lessons. Then she quit. I realized I cannot live vicariously through my daughter.
I grew up in a family of six, left-handed musicians and artists.
In fourth grade, my class learned to play recorders.
In the fifth grade, my father- a professional jazz trumpet player- let me pick out a flute. I began private flute lessons, and played first flute in band and orchestra through high school. Played jazz flute in college.
I still play flute: jazz, blues and classical music. It soothes me and is an outlet for emotional expression.
Bagpipes, like the didgeridoo, require one to learn a complex technique called circular breathing, so lung capacity is an issue here. A lot of kids have difficulty with wind instruments when they are very young, which is why a lot of parents focus on instruments that hone fine and gross motor skills, like the piano, and then graduate to string instruments. I would check with a music instructor as to the appropriate age, to be honest. You don't want the child to attempt an instrument and become soured on it because they cannot physically master the technique required to play it.
(Piano performance major and former music teacher, BTW.)
I agree with george, start em on percussion as early as possible. Not only is it the loudest thing they can conceivably do, but it is also legit great as a meditative aerobic exercise and provides a solid foundation for any other instrument they take an interest in.
Learning to count polyrhythms in 3s and 4s will put them way ahead in math, independent coordination, and short term memory. I learned drums last of all my instruments in my 20s and I found I could suddenly spell long words aloud from memory in my head. My whole life prior I would have to write it down.
Bagpipes sound expensive. BUT...you can give your first lesson from Gramps by taking all the pots/pans out of their cabinets, giving the child a few spoons and having a JAM SESSION! (I lived to regret doing that with my daughter....voice of experience here!)
My mother played the bagpipes in high school and said it was really hard to learn. Keep it open as an option later. She's just a baby, so I think you should get her a kazoo and tambourine immediately. Then perhaps bongos. She won't develop the motor skills needed for a drum kit for a while, but one cymbal on a stand and one drumstick... magic. And she should listen to as much speed metal as possible to develop the neural pathways. That's scientific.
(just kidding, of course)
Well, some say when she can sit up on her own, others believe standing. You can always start working on drums in the meantime - they only need to be able to hold their head up and grasp sticks for this instrument!
Grtz to you and the parents! Is this your first grandchild?
Congratulations! And welcome to the best club in the world! Grandparents club. My first grandchild was born on Christmas day 2016. Samantha has just learned how to blow out of her nose, so bagpipes are a ways off. She has also discovered the piano makes interesting noise, but we don't yet call it music. Have fun!