As one might imagine the bagpipes are a temperamental instrument that have to rhyme nor reason to there action at times. In Florida with everything from high humidity, scorching temperatures, hurricanes, sun showers and yes snow storms (the pan handle) bagpipes can act up. Thankfully I do not live in the pan handle so no snow to worry about but everything else is enough. With modern technology the live of a bagpiper is easier for tuning and general performance but there will always be variables in the instrument is you care about good tune. They make synthetic bagpipes, chanters and all reeds but I will never go to the way of the synthetic chanter reed.
I have a challenge at every event to be in tune and everything to stay in tune. There are sometimes when I know the instrument will go out of tune because of some variables (playing from inside to outside, long periods of the instrument sitting and cooling down, or the worse in my opinion when someone bumps into them and something moves). As a avid player in Florida I do a lot of preventative measures and maintenance to keep things tight and performing well as well as playing on my own time to keep it all set well. I couldn't imagine the amount of time I put into just one wedding with practice, maintenance (instrument and uniform), studying new tunes to add to the repertoire and working to make me a greater musician.
For the people who may not know add to the fact the instrument is not cheap and you can't just go into Guitar Center or Sam Ash and pick one up for $99.99 like a guitar. My set of Duncan Soutar pipes are handmade by Duncan Soutar himself in Scotland and all my chanters and reeds are made in Scotland as well because those are the makers I enjoy and are familiar with. There are many great American and Canadian makers just I prefer what I prefer. I will not get into the cost of them but lets say I have spent less when buying a car. This is my joy and I get to ministry though it which is a great blessing! So when you go to hire your next piper (hopefully me :) ) remember the reason live music costs more than a DJ is because the musicians has spent their life learning and growing into a professional musician. It is a special skill and effect that cannot be reproduced and should be respected.