Hiring a Piper

Things to consider if you would like to hire a piper but are not very familiar with the Great Highland Bagpipe:

  • The pipes are a powerful and loud instrument (they have been called an instrument of war for a very good reason) and are best taken in small doses and/or in large spaces.
  • The pipes are a physically demanding instrument to play. Often pipers play single tunes or short sets followed by a break. While a piper could play for an hour straight, they would be very exhausted (as would the listeners, see the comment about small doses).
  • Being a wind instrument, they must be tuned and are susceptible to pitch changed due to fluctuating weather condition. This is NOT and excuse for poor piping, but please be aware that extreme cold (below 40 F, extreme heat (think near or above 100 F), or high humidity (muggy or rainy conditions) can make tuning difficult.
  • Even playing a single tune at an event takes a lot of preparation. The piper must dress for the occasion, travel to the designated location, warm up and tune (if your piper doesn't plan on tuning, find another piper), perform, and then return home.
  • Skill levels (and prices) vary widely amongst pipers with ratings ranging all the way from amateurs to professional grades. A professional piper will offer a higher level of skill but this comes at a price. The key to a successful event will be finding the right value, or mix of skill and cost. Here are some things to look for:
    • Can my piper hold a steady tone? A wavering tone is a sign of a piper who does not have the endurance needed to produce a pleasing sound from his or her pipes.
    • Are my piper's pipes in tune with themselves? If the pipes sounds like an angry cat, the answer is no.
    • Does my piper have the desired repertoire to meet my event's needs? If you desire Amazing Grace and one or two other tunes, an exhaustive list of 100s of songs that can be played is not needed, but if you need a piper to entertain a dinner party for several hours, then a repertoire of only a few tunes will not be sufficient.