Those who have been to funerals when bagpipes play, know how haunting and mournful the sound of the pipes can be. Music is a comforting and important part of any Funeral or
Memorial service. Whether playing for our departed loved ones, friends or fallen heroes of the military, police, or fire department, bagpipes have been commemorating the loss for hundreds
of years. The pipes add a special air and dignity to the solemn occasion. Many people associate bagpipes with funerals and this is in part because they powerfully touch our deepest
haunting voice of the pipes express feelings that words alone may fail to convey. Today, the tradition is universal and not just for the Irish or Scottish. The pipes have come to be a distinguishing feature of anyone’s funeral.
By far the most signifigant role a piper can play is to perform at a funeral or memorial service. As pipers, we all take
this act most seriously and with the utmost respect. I feel that if at some point in the future mourners can think back to the service and remember not only the sadness but the beauty of the pipes then I have done my job.
And as a devout Presbyterian in the most Scottish sense, I think St.Peter pays particular attention to the pipes.
Although I am open to any requests for music or playing, a typical graveside service for me is as follows:
I arrive before the mourners and as they arrive I am playing at a short distance from the site. I will move in an as the casket or urn is removed from the hearse I where like to escort it to the graveside playing the tune "Going Home". This tune was played for Presidents such as Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy in addition to thousands of civil war dead. After this I usually stand to the side and at the end of the service I play "Amazing Grace" and slowly walk away playing. Of course this could be many other selections as desired by the family.
Additionally I am often asked to play at the church service to (a)lead the family in to the church or (b) lead the casket or urn out to the hearse or graveside. Tunes most often used here are "Highland Cathedral" and "Amazing Grace". I am often asked to play a special tune in memory of the deceased and remembering that because a piper is moving, we do not get to look at music. We must memorize everything and often it must be re-composed to fit the pipes. I will certainly try to work out any requests but the key is to give me as much advance notice as possible.
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