Top 10 reasons a bagpiper can transform an event

I monitored a Twitter conversation recently about bagpipes. The “tweeters” seemed to associate the bagpipes solely with funerals and death. A Yahoo conversation was similar; many people south of the border have only heard the pipes at funerals of police officers, firefighters and soldiers. It’s kinda sad. They don’t know what they’re missing.Piping for city crew II

BC (and the Pacific Northwest) is a hotbed of great bagpiping. A long history that continues today with two of the top 10 pipe bands in the world. Eighth place Dowco Triumph Street Pipe Band (Pipe Major Dave Hilder) and third place Simon Fraser University Pipe Band (Pipe Major Terry Lee), also six time World champions. However, it’s not always about competition.

There are many local bands and pipers who play purely for fun, pleasure and performance. We witnessed that recently when the Delta Police Pipe Band (Pipe Major John Ralston) played with Paul McCartney at BC Place. And when the former Beatles singer/guitar/piano player isn’t calling, there are plenty of other great events that can be spiced up with the addition of a well-tuned and turned-out bagpiper. When you want to create an impact…or leave a lasting impression, here are 10 great reasons to hire a piper.

  1. New Year’s Eve: It doesn’t get much better than marching in to a party playing Auld Lang Syng then lighting up the pub, bar or home with march’s, strathspey’s and reels.
  2. Birthday and surprise parties: “Happy birthday” on the bagpipes is a sure-fire way to make your birthday memorable…to you and all your guests. It’s well worth the look on the guest of honour’s face when the piper walks in.
  3. Curling bonspiels & golf tournaments: March teams onto the ice, march the winners to the platform: celebrate great Scottish games with a great Scottish instrument.
  4. Weddings: Marching in the bride, groom, wedding party in or out of the church, marching in the wedding party to the reception or even playing the first waltz. It adds that memorable moment that makes great photos and leaves a lasting impression.
  5. Head Tables: Make it official, and have a piper lead your honoured guests through the crowd. As everyone stands and claps, the piper delivers the guests-of-honour to the head table with pomp and fanfare. The pipes can also formally announce the beginning of the dinner, inviting everyone to take their places.Edmonton, 1999.
  6. Ceilidh’s (a Scottish kitchen-type party). Invite a couple of pipers, a piano player and other musicians, settle into the kitchen and let hours of music & fun begin.
  7. Funerals and memorials: The piping world is full of absolutely beautiful pipe tunes that often bring a tear to the eye and foster deep reminisces of a loved one. Amazing Grace and Danny Boy are popular, but there are so many others.
  8. Arrivals and Departures:  Arriving at the airport or train station? Your winning sports team returning from overseas? An aunt or uncle arriving? A piper can lead in the guests or march them out to the train or plane. A memorable way to say hello or goodbye.
  9. Burns PiperRobbie Burns Suppers:  A proper Robert Burns supper is simply not complete without a piper.  The evening’s highest bit of pomp is when the chef, carrying the haggis, follows the piper as he plays “A Man’s a Man for A That”.
  10. Graduations and Commencements: A very fitting way to commemorate the end of a long academic program with a piper leading in graduates to a hall filled with proud family and friends.

There are few other instruments as versatile as the great highland bagpipe. From funerals to parties and everything in between; a well-played bagpipe can bring joy, sadness, melancholy and remembrance. It is truly an instrument for all-seasons.


About Mike Chisholm

Official Piper: Rocky Mountaineer Rail Tours. Pitt River Resort. Exec. Dir. ScotFestBC: The British Columbia Highland Games, Director, BC Pipers' Assn. Former journalist, Nova Scotian, Dad.
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1 Response to Top 10 reasons a bagpiper can transform an event

  1. I like that you said that hiring a bagpiper for a surprise birthday party is an excellent way to make the event memorable for the celebrant and the guests. My siblings and I, with the help of our mom, is planning my dad’s 60th surprise birthday party. I’ll suggest to them later about hiring a bagpiper since dad loves them. Thanks for the idea!

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