What you can expect when you hire me to perform at your event:
I will arrive at your event at the agreed upon time and place, in the agreed upon clothing and ready to warm up and play. I will perform the agreed upon tunes on a well set, in-tune instrument and to the best of my musical ability. I will be flexible to reasonable changes and will advise you if something that was not agreed upon will change the fee or be impossible for me to perform. My goal is always to make my performance at your event something that will be remembered fondly for years to come.
That being said, the great highland bagpipe is a very finicky instrument and it has particular quirks that make some requests difficult or impossible to fill. Going from areas of hot to cold or cold to hot (leading a casket out of a church to the hearse when it is snowing outside for instance) can drastically effect the tuning and sound of the instrument. Having long periods of time between tunes can allow the instrument to go out of tune as well. These situations can be adapted to and made to work, and I will advise you of any other issues that might cause a problem when we discuss your event in detail, but please realize that some requests simply cannot be filled.
My fees start at $150 for most events and go up depending on distance to events, length of event and other circumstances. All fees will be negotiated and agreed upon prior to confirming the event. Depending on the circumstances, a deposit of half the agreed upon amount may be required to confirm the event.
What am I going to be wearing:
This is something that we can discuss and ensure that I provide the level of dress you are expecting. I can appear in outfits from casual to formal. Normal dress would include a traditional kilt, sporran, hose, ghillie brogues, shirt and tie, waistcoat and head dress.
What instruments do I play:
I play the Great Highland Bagpipe as well as Scottish Small Pipes. The big pipes are fairly loud, especially in very small rooms or spaces but are what most people think of when they hear “bagpipes”. The small pipes are smaller and much quieter and are suitable for playing in small areas. They have a different sound when compared to the big pipes but are still very similar.
What is my normal performance:
I have found that there are no normal performances. You are hiring me to provide a musical component of your event or occasion and I want to ensure that it is as close to perfect as I can help make it. I have done events involving playing for half an hour as guests gathered, single or multiple tunes during services or at grave sides, playing outside a church as guests depart, piping the bride to the alter, piping the bride and groom out of the church, and many others. Each was a success because of the communication before the event ensuring that I understand what you are expecting and you understand what I will be providing. This is the key in ensuring that my performance at your event meets or exceeds your expectations.
Playing with other instruments:
The Great Highland Bagpipes are believed to be a b flat instrument by most people however this is no longer the case. Most days the A note on my instrument tunes in the range of 472-478 Hz while most instruments tune their A to 440 Hz and B flat is 466 Hz. Because of this, it is difficult to play with other instruments without a lot of pre-event preparation, practice and making a number of changes in the tuning of one or both instruments. So, while it is possible and I would be willing to give it a try, it would involve at lot of pre-planning, rehearsals and additional fees.
The small pipes tune their A to the standard 440 Hz so they are easier to play with other instruments. However, if the other instrument is loud it can easily drown the sound of the small pipes. Again, this is something that would take pre-planning and rehearsals but I would be willing to give it a try.
Travel and events in other areas:
Although I am based out of the Great Falls area, I am willing to travel to other areas to perform. The travel costs will be included in my fees and may require additional pre-payment before an event is accepted. I normally charge mileage (based on the current federal rate) and any lodging costs in addition to my normal fee.
Do I teach beginners how to play the bagpipe:
I currently teach beginning bagpipes for the Great Falls Pipe Band. If you are interested in taking lessons with the band, please click here to be taken to their website.