I’ve played for countless weddings over many, many years and am fully prepared for whatever you may wish.
Here’s a rundown of what I’ve done for weddings over the years. You may not want or need all of this but you’ll get an idea of what’s available.
Arrival of Guests
During this time I usually play slower, more stately tunes to set the mood such as Highland Cathedral, Setting a Course for Lewis, The Skye Boat Song, etc.
Sometimes I play for the entire party from Grandparents through to the Bride herself. When I do this I can play a different tune for each group if required. Most often I play for the Bride alone. Good tunes for the processional include Bridal Waltz, Highland Cathedral, Amazing Grace, and many more.
Often there’s some sort of specific ceremony during the main ceremony and I have played for them many times. Any of the more stately tunes work nicely here.
This is the one time that I am almost always requested to play. I’ll usually lead the bride and groom up the aisle and out. Many times I’ll continue playing outside as people leave the ceremony or lead the rest of the guests off to cocktail hour as photos are taken. Great tunes for the recessional include Scotland the Brave, Strathcona Wedding March, The Highland Wedding, Wearing of the Green, and the like.
Many couples ask me to play for the guests until the reception begins or while the bridal party is posing for photos. This is often a good time for the Smallpipes or Uilleann pipes as they are quieter and allow the guests to converse and mingle.
I’ve played many couples into their receptions to augment the announcements.
During my many years as the main piper for the Los Angeles Police Department and the LA County Sheriffs I played for many services, both for retired officers and, all too often, for those lost in the line of duty. These services are very formal and highly emotional and there is no room for error. Having been through these as well as services for retired military I have the experience to respond competently and sensitively to any need you may have.
I’m often asked to play as mourners arrive.
I can play at the beginning, middle, or end of the service itself or any combination if you wish.
Most often I am asked to play at the interment only. I can play as people arrive, to begin the service, somewhere in the middle (during a flag folding or dove release for example) at the conclusion, and as the mourners leave.
Burials at Sea
I’ve played on many a ship from square sail schooners to the Baywatch rescue boat and have the sealegs for the job.
Some of the most often requested tunes for memorial ceremonies include Amazing Grace, Going Home, Danny Boy, Lochaber No More, Flowers of the Forest, and many others.
Parties, Piper-grams, corporate or civic events, whisky tastings, St. Patrick’s Day, Burns Night, ceilidhs, church services, marathons, just a few of the things I’ve been called to do-surprise me!
Whether you are curious about the bagpipes and want to know more, always wanted to learn but never had the time, or are an experienced piper looking to hone your skills and move up the competition ladder, I can help you meet your goals. I've been teaching pipers for over twenty years and teach at several piping summer schools throughout the US. If you're not in the Los Angeles area- no problem- I'm now giving live lessons over the web using Skype and iChat.
Feel free to contact me for more information or to schedule a time to get started.
If you've been bitten by the piping bug but don't know where to start, here are answers to some frequently asked questions.
Do I need a set of bagpipes right away?
No, all you need to start is an instrument called a Practice Chanter. The Practice Chanter is mouth-blown, requires much less pressure than the full bagpipe, and is much quieter. Practice chanters can be found in many music stores and, though they are often lower quality instruments, they can be okay to start with and are inexpensive. Higher quality practice chanters can be gotten from many on-line bagpipe suppliers. Plastic ones are often a fine option, especially for the younger or more accident-prone piper. (Wooden ones break easily)
Is it hard to learn?
Yes. Though there are only nine notes, the scale is the least of a piper's worries. Coordinating the blowing and squeezing, learning the complex system of embellishments, and maintaining the instrument require a good deal of time and dedication. All the work is well worth the effort though and there's nothing like playing a bagpipe.
How much does a set of bagpipes cost?
Good wooden sets can be had for as little as $1000. Quality plastic sets are going for as little as $600. There are many sets made in Pakistan that are very cheap and should be avoided at all costs. People often think that purchasing a very cheap set will give them an idea whether they want to pursue learning. These sets will put anyone off bagpipes for good. They look lovely over (or in) a fireplace- that's the only place for them.