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Beer Tent The general discussion forum, and the place to start a new "beer-tent-like" Piping Related discussion...

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Old 08-24-2018, 06:54 AM   #1
Forum Member - Shy or Quiet
Join Date: Sep 2014
Location: Massachusetts
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Default Piping at funerals

Anyone who regularly pipes at funerals, how did you get into doing them? Pipe for a family member or friend? For those who have approached funeral homes about being available to pipe a funeral how did you do it? A change in career has allowed me to be available during the day so I'm thinking of doing them just not sure how to get started. Thank you in advance for your input.
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Old 08-24-2018, 07:07 AM   #2
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Default Re: Piping at Funerals

I phoned all of the funeral firms in my area. I took the approach that I'm helping to solve their problem of having to scramble to find a piper last minute.


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Old 08-24-2018, 07:11 AM   #3
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Default Re: Piping at Funerals

Referrals are one way, but it relies on word of mouth

Approaching funeral homes is one way, I was for a time, basically on staff with one... they’re usually very excited when you make contact in my experience

Kijiji and Facebook are also excellent resources.

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Old 08-24-2018, 07:49 AM   #4
Jim Fogelman
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Default Re: Piping at Funerals

The first one I did was my grandpa's my senior year of high school (shortly after I started playing). I also did my grandma's several years later.

If you can avoid doing family ones, I recommend it - it's really hard to pipe when seeing your family cry or while being on the verge of tears yourself.

Most of the funeral gigs I get, though, are through the band or someone asking someone else in the music community here and them getting to me that way.
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Old 08-24-2018, 01:24 PM   #5
Klondike Waldo
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Default Re: Piping at Funerals

I think the first one I did was as a substitute for another piper, some 30-odd years ago. I played mostly weddings and evening events for years, but now do a large number of funerals since I retired from my "day job".

I have not approached funeral homes, although there are a few that have me on file after having played for families who used those homes.

Mostly, people find me through online booking services, my web page, referrals or the Musicians' Union.
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Old 09-01-2018, 03:47 PM   #6
piper Q
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Default Re: Piping at Funerals

I have a business card or two with me if a Funeral Director or a rep asks for a card, I provide it.otherwise, I let word of mouth and referrals be the source of contact for funeral services. Since there are enough pipers to count on both hands with some fingers left over in the region, we'll pass info on about who else is available.
Breaching the peace? What bagpipes officer?
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Old 09-01-2018, 07:58 PM   #7
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Default Re: Piping at Funerals

I found funerals to always be stressful.
You need to be prepared and ALWAYS double-check your pipes well in advance. Stock hemping is tight, reeds are well seated, blowpipe valve, bag airtight,...

Chanter reed broken in with little pitch change from standing idle to start up and then playing time. Check out the temperature transition between staging area and performance site. Warm up prior to performance...let the pipes sit a bit..the strike them up to make sure in tune.

Note the position of drone tops on tuning pins. You would be surprised how many kindly people will think you won’t make it through a doorway and grab at your drones. If it happens...if you know where the tuning point is, you have a recovery setpoint

Once you are ready..the stress of the event is upon you. Think about the tune as you play. You want this final tribute to be your best...every time.

Emotions for the event can be stressful as well. I used to be ‘the’ police department honor guard piper. Police uniform on top, kilt bottom...official police badge “Piper 1”. An entire community upset, widow and children crying, ...it’s infectious. But you have a job to do and do it well.

As said by others...you are always thankful to get through it.

I am thankful to have never blown it...even playing a military funeral at Arlington National Cemetary for my father in law...in front of many dignitaries.

Yes..things can happen...but you have to prepare in advance...check, re-check, ...and not at the last moment.
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Old 09-02-2018, 05:10 AM   #8
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Default Re: Piping at Funerals

It’s not unusual for a church or chapel event ...the family or event coordinator wants you to play along with organist, violin, or vocal soloist. If that’s going to occur, do not commit until all performing parties are agreed.

When I say agreed...this entails actually trying out what is requested. Is the key the other party performing in compatible with the pipes? If yes..play through it to confirm it’s going to work. You will have to adjust the timing of your playing to match the other performer. My humble experience is that organ and vocal soloists will stretch out phrases for emotive expression....you have to listen to them as you play...to match them. You are part of an ensemble.

Bottom line...if a request is not going to work...say so up front. Better that you are frank and everyone knows what pipes can do or not do.

Last edited by Toxpert; 09-02-2018 at 05:16 AM.
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Old 09-02-2018, 05:43 AM   #9
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Default Re: Piping at Funerals

One last comment....regarding instrument maintenance....Drone cap bushes.

One of the pipers in our band years ago had a tenor drone cap bush that was loose. Prior to a competition...while tuning...placed his finger into the drone cap to flick/restart the reed...the bush went flying and was never found.

That was the end for that player.
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Old 09-02-2018, 07:32 AM   #10
Texas Gael
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Default Re: Piping at Funerals

My first funeral was at the chapel at Fort Bliss, Texas, in the Spring of 1985. I was only 2 1/2 years into bagpiping and refused payment because I was a beginner. I was contacted out of the blue to play because the funeral was for an Army colonel who was a MacGregor, so his widow wanted a piper. In those days the only other bagpipers I knew were the girls in the Bel Air High School band, and they didn't play for gigs outside of the school. Despite my trepidation, everything went well and his widow was very grateful.

33 years later, I still get a lot of calls for funerals, and have played for both the high and mighty, as well as the regular folks, in all types of weather, 100+ degree heat and in the sleet and snow. Only glitch was a chanter reed that fell into my pipe bag at the beginning of a service, but I fished it out, reset it and went on. Other than knowing your instrument and practicing regularly, I would advise getting to know the funeral home folks and developing a good relationship. They can be of great help when things go wanky (other than your instrument).

Cheers -

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