Music Information

Taps; Piping Military Honors: A Ceremonial Guide for Highland Bagpipers


It has become increasingly popular for U.S. military veterans and their families to specifically request a piper to not only pipe for a funeral, but to pipe Taps for the rendering of military honors as well. Funerals for law enforcement and fire personnel in the United States have a long tradition of incorporating pipers and military honors, and most departmental funerary protocols closely follow those of the U.S. military. The following is a brief general outline of what to expect and what will be expected of you as a member of an honor guard when playing Taps.

You should be well prepared before the funeral, your pipes should be well tuned, well set up, steady, and reliable. Paramilitary band uniforms, appearance, and instrument should meet or exceed the military standards as outlined in British or Canadian Army regulations for pipers. Civilian dress should look equally neat and presentable; jacket brushed, metalwork polished, leather waxed, and kilt pleats and glengarry ribbons pressed; every bit as squared away as a military uniform. A homemade kilt in MacWal-Mart tartan with athletic socks and a JC Penny blazer definitely won't cut it. You'll need decent enough kit to look respectable standing alongside Marines in their Class A's. However, do not wear a Prince Charlie and bow tie unless all the other members of the funeral party are in tuxedos and evening gowns. Active duty or retired military personnel and members of the VFW or American Legion may wear their uniforms. Police, EMS, and fire personnel uniform should conform to agency guidelines; when in doubt check with your departmental chaplain prior to arrival. It is completely beyond my comprehension that this even needs to be said, but unfortunately it does; the wearing of military uniform and insignia to which you have not earned the right is extremely offensive to those who have. It's unconscionable, grossly inappropriate, and in some situations can be physically dangerous (in my opinion, rightly so). Do not humiliate yourself, dishonor the decedent, and deeply offend their friends and family by "playing soldier". If you show up dressed as a Pipe Major in the Black Watch, you'd damned well better be a Pipe Major in the Black Watch!

Under absolutely no circumstances should you be late, so plan ahead; taking traffic, weather, and road conditions into account. You should report to the funeral site well prior to the designated time and report immediately to the Officer In Charge (OIC) or Non-Commissioned Officer In Charge (NCOIC). If piping at a National cemetery, it will probably be very busy; check in at the gate, and make sure they know that you need to precede the family to the site in order to coordinate with the honor guard. For a military funeral, at a minimum there will be two uniformed active duty military personnel assigned to the Military Funeral Honors detail, at least one of which will be from the decedent's branch of service. The highest ranking of the two will be the NCOIC. There may also be a color guard and/or firing detail made up of veterans from the Veterans of Foreign Wars or the American Legion. Fire, EMS, and police honor guards will also have a team leader or ranking officer in charge. Always check in and coordinate with this person. Regardless of anything written herein, the OIC/NCOIC is in charge of the ceremony and is to be considered the authoritative source of protocol.

Generally speaking, when you're attached to a detail, the leader of that detail will render all salutes. However, there are some points in some funerals when the entire company present will be called to Attention to Present Arms. As always, when in doubt, check with the NCOIC/OIC. Regardless of uniform, if you are not, nor have you ever been, enlisted in the military, you are by definition a civilian, and you will therefore render all hand salutes by placing your right hand over your heart. The one and only exception to this is uniformed civilian fire, EMS, and police personnel, who should conform to their departmental protocols. Just remember to listen, watch, and follow the lead of the OIC/NCOIC and honor guard (unless you're actively piping); if they come to Attention, so do you, if they salute, so do you. If they uncover, so do you, if they come to Parade Rest, so do you. Most drill commands are given in two parts; the preparatory command, and the command of execution (for example; Present, Arms). When your cue is the execution of a two-part command, go on the command of execution, not the preparatory command (i.e., "Arms"). The piper of an honor guard is a highly ceremonial role; solo pipers who haven't had much exposure to drill should seek to learn some from a Drum Major of a local band if at all possible, and practice some basic drill movements with pipes, such as Parade Rest, Attention, Pipes Ready, and Pipes Down.

Remember always that this is a very solemn ceremony and a responsibility to be taken very seriously, and this should be reflected in every aspect of your demeanor and deportment at all times from the first moment of your arrival until your departure from the site.

CHURCH SERVICE

If piping for a church service at a civilian facility, uncover upon entering the chapel unless piping the casket in. Uncover and remain uncovered throughout the service unless actively piping. Generally follow the lead of the honor guard; they will uncover and remain uncovered until time to render military honors. If there is any doubt, check with the officiant beforehand. No weapons of any type should be worn in church; this includes skian dubhs.

Just before the ceremony begins, if not piping the remains in, stand outside by the officiant and OIC/NCOIC or wherever they designate, and salute (If you are a civilian, place your right hand over your heart) along with them as the remains are brought out of the hearse and into the church. If piping the remains in, the OIC/NCOIC will usually call the assembled company to Attention; your cue to execute Pipes Ready; and then Present? Arms as the casket is withdrawn; that is your cue to strike in. You may or may not have been requested to enter the church with the honor guard or casket team, or to play a tune during the service. If you've been requested to remain outside until the end of the service, end your tune as the casket enters the chapel, and remember that you are still actively engaged in a funeral detail, and maintain the solemnity and dignity of the ceremony.

Casket: If not piping, be prepared to drop your salute (If you are a civilian, place your right hand over your heart) as the pallbearers make a five step formal turn with the casket.

Urn: If not piping, be prepared to drop your salute (If you are a civilian, place your right hand over your heart) after the pallbearers have retrieved the remains and are standing with the other pallbearers, when you hear the command "Ready, Step".

It is not uncommon to pipe the remains out of the church at the conclusion of the service; coordinate with the OIC/NCOIC as to whether they want you to lead, follow, or stand aside. Once outside, stand to the left, near the hearse or apparatus. If already outside, the OIC/NCOIC will usually call the assembled company to Attention (execute Pipes Ready), and then Present? Arms as the casket emerges; that is your cue to strike in. When you cut off, execute Pipes Down and render a hand salute (If you are a civilian, place your right hand over your heart). After the remains are secured, drop your salute (take your cue from the OIC/NCOIC) and move to a position predetermined by the OIC/NCOIC, and stand at Attention or Parade Rest; follow the lead of the OIC/NCOIC.

If not marching to the gravesite with the hearse or apparatus, be prepared to come to Attention and render a hand salute as it moves out. (If you are a civilian, place your right hand over your heart).

If marching in a funeral procession, the piper (or band) will traditionally lead the marching element right behind the color guard; coordinate with the OIC/NCOIC. When the OIC/NCOIC begins to move along the hearse or apparatus to the front, they will salute. If you are not directly attached to the detail but will be a lone piper, salute (If you are a civilian, place your right hand over your heart) as you move past the hearse or apparatus to the front as well, dropping the salute when in front of the flag draped coffin (when marching with a band, the Drum Major will render the salute). Move to a point in well in front of the marching element in order to take your place in the funeral procession, directly behind the color guard.

If it is a funeral with cremains or memorial service without remains, you will sound Taps on completion of the service and at a prearranged signal by the OIC/NCOIC or officiant. Usually, the flag will be encased and displayed upon the altar or stand. Usually, the honor guard will unfold the flag and hold it outstretched as you play Taps. When the flag bearers come to Attention and the flag comes taut, that is your cue to strike in. Start off on the first note; Low A, just like a bugler. Regardless of what you may have been told or how you may have been taught, in this instance do NOT sound an E pick-up note! After sounding Taps, execute Pipes Down. After the flag is folded, the bearer will turn and present the folded flag to the OIC/NCOIC. They will salute the bearer with the flag and take the flag with their left hand on top and their right hand on the bottom, and stand while the bearer salutes the flag. When the bearer drops his salute, they will wait until the bearer is dismissed and then go to the next of kin (normally seated on the left front seat) and present the flag, or present it to the officiant or ranking officer, who will present it to the family. After presenting the flag, they will salute.

GRAVESIDE SERVICE

Unless piping the casket to the gravesite, you will stand at Attention and render a hand salute as the casket is carried to the gravesite (as a general rule, salute whenever the flag is in motion and you are standing still; take your cue from the OIC/NCOIC and follow their lead on when to drop your hand). If you are a civilian, place your right hand over your heart. If you must move in front of the flag, salute (If you are a civilian, place your right hand over your heart) as you walk past the flag draped casket. If you're indoors, simply stand at attention.

Casket: be prepared to drop your salute (If you are a civilian, place your right hand over your heart) as the pallbearers make a five step formal turn with the casket.

Urn: be prepared to drop your salute (If you are a civilian, place your right hand over your heart) after the pallbearers have retrieved the remains and are standing with the other pallbearers, when you hear the command "Ready, Step".

You may be called upon to pipe the remains to the graveside. This will of course have been coordinated well beforehand with the officiant and OIC/NCOIC. Strike in as the casket is removed from the hearse. Stand at Attention facing the casket as it is being withdrawn from the hearse, execute a proper About Face, and march the casket to the gravesite, about 60 steps per minute, stepping off on the left foot on the first note of the first part. When you arrive at the gravesite, veer off to your prearranged position for the service, then turn and face the gravesite. You should position yourself near the gravesite, alongside the firing party. In any event you should take care to stand in a location where the sound will carry to the funeral party and where you can be seen by the next of kin. You should be facing the casket. End your tune as the casket is placed upon the lowering device. Stand at Parade Rest during the funeral service; follow the lead of the OIC/NCOIC and firing party. You may be called upon to play a short tune, usually after the opening prayer. This will of course have been coordinated well beforehand with the officiant, and you will take your cue from them. For a Fire service funeral, there may be a ringing of the bell, three times, three rings each, signifying the end of an alarm. For air personnel, there may be a fly-over in a missing man formation.

The casket team will position the remains over the grave and unfold the flag, holding it taut over the remains. When the service is complete, the OIC or NCOIC will Present Arms. The firing party consisting of seven riflemen will come to Attention and fire three volleys. Come to Attention with the firing party (bring in left foot, drop right hand to side), and Pipes Up with the command "Ready". Sound Taps after the third volley and after the NCOIC of the firing party orders "Present, Arms"; that is your cue to strike in. Start off on the first note; Low A. Do NOT sound an E pick-up note! After sounding Taps, execute Pipes Down with the firing party on the command "Order, Arms". After the flag is folded, the bearer will turn and present the folded flag to the OIC/NCOIC. They will salute the bearer with the flag and take the flag with their left hand on top and their right hand on the bottom, and stand while the bearer salutes the flag. When the bearer drops his salute, they will wait until the bearers are dismissed and then go to the next of kin (normally seated on the left front seat) and present the flag. After presenting the flag, they will salute. You will be dismissed on the command of the NCOIC of the firing party at the conclusion of the service.

When a firing party is not available, you will sound Taps upon completion of the service and at a prearranged signal from the OIC/NCOIC or officiant. Usually, the honor guard will hold the flag outstretched over the coffin as you play Taps. When the flag bearers come to attention and the flag comes taut, that is your cue to strike in. Start off on the first note; Low A. Do NOT sound an E pick-up note! After sounding Taps, execute Pipes Down. After the flag is folded, the bearer will turn and present the folded flag to the OIC/NCOIC. They will salute the bearer with the flag and take the flag with their left hand on top and their right hand on the bottom, and stand while the bearer salutes the flag. When the bearer drops his salute, they will wait until the bearer is dismissed and then go to the next of kin (normally seated on the left front seat) and present the flag, or present it to the officiant or ranking officer, who will present it to the family. After presenting the flag, they will salute.

DRILL FOR CEREMONIAL PIPERS

ATTENTION

On the command of execution 'TION, bring heels together with feet at approximately 45 degrees. Do not lock your knees. As blood pools in your lower extremities, it is possible to pass out if your locked knees inhibit venous return. Pipe bag tucked underneath your left elbow, with bass drone, chanter, and blowstick in your left hand, palm upward. Bass drone should be perfectly horizontal and 90 degrees from your body. Right hand at your side thumb resting along the first joint of the forefinger, hand cupped (but not clenched as a fist) with palm facing your leg. Stand erect, shoulders square, eyes straight ahead. DO NOT MOVE, FIDGET, OR LOOK AROUND! If you're in this position for a while, very slightly flex your knees, wiggle your toes, shift your weight, etc. to keep circulation going, as long as it's imperceptible to bystanders.

PARADE REST

From the position of Attention, on the command of execution REST, move the left foot about 10 inches to the left of the right foot, about shoulder width apart. Keep the legs straight without locking the knees, resting the weight of the body equally on the heels and balls of the feet. Simultaneously, place the right hand at the small of your back, fingers outstretched. Pipe bag remains tucked underneath your left elbow, with bass drone, chanter, and blowstick in your left hand, palm upward. Bass drone should be perfectly horizontal and 90 degrees from your body. Stand erect, shoulders square, eyes straight ahead. DO NOT MOVE, FIDGET, OR LOOK AROUND! If you're in this position for a while, very slightly flex your knees, wiggle your toes, shift your weight, etc. to keep circulation going, as long as it's imperceptible to bystanders.

STAND AT EASE

From the position of Attention, on the command of execution EASE, you may relax and move around, as long as your left foot doesn't move. Keep silent.

STAND EASY

You may relax and move around, as long as your left foot doesn't move. You may talk quietly.

PIPES READY

From the position of Attention, on the command of execution Ready, draw your pipes forward in front of you, bass drone perfectly horizontal and 90 degrees from your body, bass drone, chanter, and blowstick in your left hand palm upward, grasp bass drone, chanter, and blowstick in your right hand, and then smoothly swing them up into playing position. Rotate the chanter down into playing position in your left hand; bag tucked in under left upper arm, blowstick in your mouth. Drop your right hand to your side, eyes straight ahead. You should be ready to strike in.

PIPES DOWN

From the position of Pipes Ready (in playing position on your shoulder, chanter in your hand and blowstick in your mouth), on the command of execution DOWN, with the right hand, rotate the chanter and blowstick up to the bass drone, grasping all three. Bring the pipes down in front of you, bass drone perfectly horizontal and 90 degrees from your body, grasping the bass drone, chanter, and blowstick in your left hand palm upward with your right hand palm downward on top of the bass drone. Draw the pipes straight back tucking the bag under your left elbow and then dropping your right hand to your right side. Eyes straight ahead.

PRESENT ARMS

From the position of Attention, on the command of execution ARMS, a civilian will bring their right hand up to their heart, palm inward, fingers extended and close together. Pipe bag remains tucked underneath your left elbow, with bass drone, chanter, and blowstick in your left hand, palm upward. Bass drone should be perfectly horizontal and 90 degrees from your body.

ORDER ARMS

From the position of Present Arms, on the command of execution Arms, drop your right hand to your side, and resume the position of Attention.

ABOUT FACE

From Attention or Pipes Ready, on the command of execution Face, place your right toe about 10" behind and slightly to the left of where the right heel was. With your weight evenly on the ball of your right foot and left heel, turn smartly around to your right. Done properly, you should still be at Attention or Pipes Ready facing the opposite direction.

CADENCE

A funeral march is 60 beats per minute.

Piper for Hire; Tampa Bay, FL

Bagpiper available for weddings, receptions, formal dinners, ceremonies, corporate functions, funerals, memorials, and special events of all kinds throughout the greater Tampa Bay area.


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The Montreal artist covered Nickelback's 2002 Juno-winning single of the year.


Rock no longer rules the X Games, which now showcases dance music and hip-hop alongside action sports  AOL

Punk and other rock subgenres have become less popular in recent years, but that hasn't diminished the link between music and extreme sports.


Teresa Giudice's Cameo in Milania's "I Can't Wait To Grow Up" Music Video Is Giving Us Life  Bravo

We've followed Milania Giudice in her pop music journey this season on The Real Housewives of New Jersey and now we're finally seeing the fruits of her labor.


Woman with four-hour flight delay creates adorable music video  Nine

When life brings you a four-hour flight delay, you make ... music-video-ade? A young woman has become a viral sensation after filming a video of herself ...


For One Violinist, Elevating Music By Black Composers Is A 20-Year Mission  NPR

Composers of color have long had to compete with dead white men for space on the concert stage. A new project, spearheaded by Rachel Barton Pine, seeks to ...


9 Must-See Live Music Events This Winter  WBUR

In January, there's a lot to look forward to — spring, for one thing. Lucky for Boston-area residents, there is also a glut of good concerts on tap. Here are nine live ...


The night George Michael came to see me impersonate him: Tribute act's proudest moment  Express

As Rob Lamberti prepares for a nationwide tour of his tribute show to the late Careless Whisper star, he recalls the occasion the man himself came to watch his ...


This app will show you your Apple Music listening habits for 2018  The Verge

Apple Music doesn't offer a packaged way to look at your yearly listening habits, but a new app does. Made by NoiseHub, the app is called "Music Year in ...


Use Apple Music in your browser with this pretty web interface  The Next Web

I use Apple Music as my primary streaming *service*, but it bums me out that it doesn't have a web interface. So I have to rely either on my phone, or the dreaded ...


Brian McFadden to headline Abu Dhabi’s Sunset Music Festival  Time Out Abu Dhabi

The Westlife frontman joins a line-up of 90s artists in April | Music, We've got some exciting news for all the 1990s children in Abu Dhabi.Westlife's Brian ...


Why is pop music still obsessed with madness?  Telegraph.co.uk

For the past month, the UK Top 40 top spot has been occupied by a surprise hit called Sweet But Psycho. Sung by Ava Max, the song is an unapologetically ...


O Canada! Céline Dion and Drake each announce major UK concerts  The Guardian

Singer will play only European show of 2019 in Hyde Park, while rapper announces a UK arena tour, including six nights at London's O2 Arena.


Music sounds better because I got high: Now that's what I call one hit wonders  The Spinoff

Henry Oliver reminds himself of eight songs from the Now That's What I Call Music collection that hit once and never again. The very term 'one hit wonder' is ...


Drug deaths at music festivals: one overdose victim 'took up to nine MDMA pills'  The Guardian

NSW coroner told different circumstances led to the five deaths, including one victim who was drinking as well as consuming MDMA.


The Amalgamation of Country Music  The Aggie

Country music's adaptation to the twenty-first-century. It's no secret that country music has changed in the last 20 years. The *content* within most of the songs that ...


Prince Charles: I find Leonard Cohen's music very moving  The Guardian

“Whenever I hear it, it always makes me feel better,” said the prince from Jean-Marie Leclair's Scylla et Glaucus, an 18th-century opera about malignant rage and ...


The Day the Music Died  The New York Times

Unchecked growth has claimed Bobby's Idle Hour, the last live-music venue on Nashville's fabled Music Row.


10 best music players for Android Auto  Android Authority

Music on Android Auto is a little bit finicky. There are some obvious music players that don't work on Android Auto and we can't figure out why at this point. Thus ...


Tekashi 6ix9ine Records New Song And Music Video In Prison  Capital XTRA

6ix9ine could potentially spend the rest of his life in jail but it hasn't stopped his creativity as he's been making new music and even a new video.


R. Kelly's Music Sees a Rise After Controversial 'Surviving' Documentary  The Blast

R. Kelly may be in the middle of a PR nightmare, but his music is thriving after scores of fans went to play his tunes after hearing the terrifying allegations made in ...


New Sleater-Kinney Album, Produced By St. Vincent, Confirmed For This Year  NPR

Sleater-Kinney has confirmed it's releasing a new album sometime this year, produced by St. Vincent. Guitarist Carrie Brownstein tells NPR, "We always planned ...


The best Christmas music playlist  Vox

Sick of the typical holiday music? Try this playlist — which has over a week of tunes.


The 2018 NPR Music Jazz Critics Poll  NPR

Over 130 critics voted on the best jazz albums of 2018 — celebrated elders dominated the top of the results, but a class of younger musicians is rising.


Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith: Tides: Music for Meditation and Yoga | Review  Pitchfork

Music for yoga may be an ambient cliche, but the Los Angeles synthesizer musician largely avoids new-age pitfalls on this album of unabashedly functional ...


Country Music Hall of Famer Maxine Brown Russell of The Browns dead at 87  USA TODAY

Maxine Brown Russell, inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2015 as part of sibling trio The Browns, died in Little Rock, Arkansas, Monday.


Music City Downtown program will bring more live music to Pittsburgh  NEXTpittsburgh

Music City Downtown will bring Pittsburgh more live music, says the PDCDC, with new and familiar venues offering live performances in 2019.


Review: Elton John makes grand exit at final Bay Area tour stop  San Francisco Chronicle

It's hard to imagine a world without Elton John. The British…


Robbie Williams 'blasted out Black Sabbath music' to torment Jimmy Page, resident claims  The Telegraph

Their bitter feud over a basement extension was hardly rock and roll. But Robbie Williams is said to have been so intent on further tormenting his neighbour ...


The Verge 2018 tech report card: Streaming music  The Verge

Although music streaming has been an integral part of daily life for what seems like ages, both the music industry and tech companies have consistently and ...


What Streaming Music Services Pay (Updated for 2019)  Digital Music News

So, how much should you expect to earn from your music on the most popular streaming music services? We've ranked the most popular for 2019.


Bonnie Guitar, Music Industry Trailblazer, Is Dead at 95  The New York Times

Bonnie Guitar, who had hit records as a country singer and guitarist, but whose biggest achievement may have been her work as a businesswoman in the ...


R. Kelly’s label, RCA Records at Sony Music, has reportedly dropped him  Vox

According to new reports in Variety and Billboard, R. Kelly has been dropped by his record label, RCA Records. While RCA parent company Sony Music has not ...


Dr. Hook’s Ray Sawyer, ‘Cover of Rolling Stone’ Singer, Dead at 81  Rolling Stone

Ray Sawyer, the Dr. Hook & The Medicine Show member who sang the 1973 Shel Silverstein-penned hit “The Cover of 'Rolling Stone,'” has died at the age of ...


The Who Plot Symphonic U.S. Arena Tour, New Studio Album for 2019  Rolling Stone

When Pete Townshend's management team came to him with a lucrative offer from Live Nation to spend much of 2019 on the road with the Who, he said he'd ...


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