I am a seventh generation Scottish-American, and discovered the “Pipes” while I was in my mid 20’s. This discovery came of the heels of even a greater discovery, that of my ancestral roots, which being single at the time, afforded me the opportunity of travel. On one chilly June afternoon, I found myself quite alone, in a taxi bound for a bus station which was to take my to my destination, a quite country side manor in the area of Lanark, Scotland, the home of William Wallace. Glasgow hinted of faces hauntingly familiar, but a tongue distant, and welcoming. A few days later found me on a train bound for Edinburgh, and as I strolled up the Royal Mile, I located a Pipe-Makers shop, managed by a gentleman by the name of James Hagan. I welcomed his hospitality of hot tea, given the biting wind blowing outside of his door, and we chatted for a few minutes before he gave me the tour of his shop, pointing to the blackwood he explained to me in detail how a set of Bagpipes were made, and finished. There in 1986, I transacted a deal and with a handshake, purchased my first and only set of Bagpipes, which he then made to my specifications. These are the very same Pipes I play today, and together we, my Pipes and I, have given witness to the best, and the worse of times. Now, after 25 years of Piping, I can truly attest that as a Piper, I have grown in wisdom, and to some extent, in sorrow. It is perhaps, the most haunting and foreboding sound on the face of the earth, a sound that will forever serve to remind the listener, the day the Piper played. Whether it was at a wedding, a funeral, on the D-Day beaches, Korea, Vietnam, the sands of Iraq, or at the bequest of a child, which never forgets. I am honored to have come this way, and to share this aspect of my life with those who deem the Great Highland Bagpipes an instrument worthy of their attention and respect. To the only instrument in the world which has the unique attribute of being declared a “Weapon of War”, I lift my glass, and render a toast to the best of the barley, the people of Mississippi….
When making a request for a Piper, please keep in mind that we will try and secure a Piper which will be closest to where the event will be taking place. This cuts down on the Piper’s travel time, and on the gas mileage as well. Piper availability is also taken into consideration, but if a local Piper is not available in your area, we will send your request via the email “Pipeline” to check Piper availabilities.
Please take into consideration: The Piper will probably need a place to tune, so especially if the Piper will be playing inside, reserve a vacant room for him/her to tune which is out of ear shot from where the Piper will be playing. The Piper should be able to tune in about 30 minutes. If he is an old Piper like me, be sure he has a cup of coffee while he is tuning. I have found that heat, humidity, and air conditioning, (especially in the South) all effect the tuning of the Pipes. The Pipes is an instrument which operates on four reeds, and what I am about to say is vital: The Pipes need to be tuned in the environment in which the event will be played! I cannot stress that enough. A set of Pipes tuned in the outside heat of a Mississippi August day, and then brought into the interior of an air conditioned room, will go out of tune and you will think one of the 4 Pipers of the Apocalypse will be playing. Keep the Piper in the Environment he/she will be playing if at all possible. When it comes to pay, all Pipers have their own rates. The requesting party would need to check with the Piper per rates and etc. At funerals, the Piper usually stands at a distance to begin playing, so the Piper will need to be “Cued” when to start playing. This can be done by the Director of Services, the Minister, or a Family Member. In paying the Piper, most are quite accommodating and will work with you regarding payment, whether by mail or on site. If there are changes in the structure of your requested event, be sure to make the Piper aware of them. In weddings, where Brides have been requested to be lead into the Sanctuary by a Piper, the Bride should follow the Piper about three to five steps behind. All eyes need to be on the Bride and not the Piper. I have know Pipers to walk all the way down the isle while playing and the Bride is still at the door waiting to come in, and when she comes in, all eyes are still on the Piper. The Piper should sound the alarm, and when people hear it, they should turn around and see the Bride, at which point they will stand. But, if anyone has any additional questions regarding the above mentioned matter, feel free to contact me anytime. With Sincerest Thanks, the rebbepiper
To the make of a piper go seven years of his own learning,
and seven generations before.
At the end of his seven years
one born to it will stand at the start of knowledge,
and leaning a fond ear to the drone
he may have parley with old folks of old affairs.
Playing the tune of the Fairy Harp,
he can hear his fore folk, plaided in skins,
towsy-headed and terrible,
grunting at the oars and snoring in the caves,
he has his own whittle and club in The Desperate Battle
(my own tune, my darling),
where the white-haired sea-rovers are on the shore,
and a stain’s on the edge of the tide;
or, trying his art on Laments,
he can stand by the cairn of kings,
ken the colour of Fingal’s hair,
and see the moon-glint on the hook of the Druids.
– Neil Munro