With the latest directive I am able to perform again throughout Florida! Other states will have to be researched if you are requesting my services outside of Florida or the United States.
This has been a hard season for us all but as Americans we survive! As Florida slowly starts getting back to work, I will be able to play for y'all soon again but as of May 4th I will be able to perform in Pinellas County! All social distancing must be done and I will continue to monitor each county until Phase 2 when I should be good throughout the state.
Thank you all for you continued support and I cannot wait to be there for you soon in person! Do remember I can be there virtually , anywhere in the word so let me know what I can do for you.
When hiring a professional musician, regardless of the instrument, there is a standard of dress. For bagpipers it is highland attire (kilt, wool socks, etc) and there are variances in uniform from Summer to Winter, the expectation is always a kilt! It always stuns me when I hear of someone hiring a piper and that person comes in jeans and a polo. In Tampa Bay, there are more bagpipers than most would expect but those who do this for a living, like myself, are very few. The very few times I will wear a polo is piping relaxed gigs like on St. Patrick's Day but always kilted.
Great Highland Bagpipes (GHB) are a very sensitive instrument to temperature, humidity and sun exposure and we have all those in spades in Florida! Performing for so many years I have learned a few tricks on how to adjust on the fly when going from outdoors to indoors and visa versa. Unless you are a musician, you are not going to think about how that sudden change will affect the instrument and your tuning. Regardless how long you have been playing the GHB, weather will win in the end! When you hire a professional bagpiper, there is an expectation to be in tune and sounding good but have some grace if that piper needs to perform indoors and outdoors for your event.
We all have bad days, right? Well that should not be noticed on your piper. There are stereotypes attached to our culture but just like attitude that shouldn't affect the performance. Even when I drank, I never did when I was engaged in a performance because of the side effects of alcohol. I give it all I have and do my absolute best for each performance and being buzzed, drunk, angry or depressed will without question affect the playing.
Behind the Scenes
Every musician needs to practice regardless of skill level or time in. Life happens and we can't always get in the length of time we would like to practice but do you know how much time does? For myself, I average about 30 hours each week practicing. Mostly new tunes I'm learning but a good amount on brushing up on what I know and making sure I'm playing it properly. Just for fun here is a segment of bagpipe sheet music:
No you don't need to read music to realize that is a lot of things to play. The larger notes are the melody and all the small notes are embellishments, and since you cannot separate notes by tonguing like on traditional instruments, those embellishments is what we use to separate the melody notes. On here are grace notes, birls, rodins, and doublings and there are many more! So you can see that you may only need 20-30 musics of playing, I spend a lot of time so I can perform at the highest level possible for you.
Bagpipes are an expensive instrument, thousands for the pipers, hundreds for a chanter bag and reeds. I have 2 sets of bagpipes, fair and fowl weather sets. Each there own chanters, reeds, case, etc. and a set of Scottish Smallpipes for relaxed, indoors affairs such as cocktail hours. Don't forget Uncle Sam gets his cut and website cost, uniform (a proper kilt is $400-500) and so on. Those who play are passionate about the music and history as well as having very understanding spouses haha.
It is an honor to continue to perform for the community and I am grateful for the opportunity to do so!
Serving Those Who Have Served
Piping at a National Cemetery is very different from a traditional cemetery, and as a piper who has performed at hundreds of services throughout Florida I can attest to that. There are 9 National Cemeteries in Florida (Barrancas (Pensacola), Bay Pines, Cape Canaveral, Florida (Bushnell), Jacksonville, Sarasota, South Florida (Lake Worth), St. Augustine, and Tallahassee. I have had the honor to pipe for Veterans and fallen servicemembers in Bay Pines, Bushnell, and Sarasota. The services have a maximum window of 30 minutes and they tend to run very much on time, at least at the locations I have performed.
Now you might ask how is it different at Bay Pines, Bushnell or Sarasota versus any other cemetery. First there is a different respect and procedure at National Cemeteries, as it should be, and so being punctual is not good enough, you must be early as a piper. I arrive at least 30 minutes early, know how every branch does their ceremony and I know how the VFW and USMCL do their ceremonies. Every piper starts somewhere but at a veteran service is not where you want someone with little experience piping your loved ones final tune.
In addition to all that, I lower my prices for Veteran and Veteran Spouses services as a way to pay respect for what they have done for us. Also, I do not charge for fallen servicemember services as stated on my homepage. There is not much leeway for military services and I'm happy to explain in detail what I have found to be the best way to have bagpipes at those services. I do hope when that time eventually comes, you will consider me to be your piper for these services. It is a true honor for me, which I to not take lightly. An important item is to make sure you let me know your loved one served or they are a spouse of a servicemember, I do not require paperwork to confirm that status. This also applies to allied nations as I have performed for foreign veteran services.
For those I have piped for and those I will, thank you for allowing me to be a unique and special part of your life!