Hiring a Professional Bagpiper.
Paying the Piper
Like any other professional instrumentalist, Bagpipers have a lot of money tied up in the costs of the bagpipe, the uniform, maintenance of both and practicing to reach a professional level.
With the years of experience we have, we can say, without question, that the simplest performance (playing one tune) takes just as much time in preparation (warming up, dressing, traveling) as compare to playing for a few or more hours.
Minimum time spent for any Bagpiper from start to finish is easily 3-4 hours.
Hiring a Bagpiper for one tune at a wedding or funeral that starts at 4pm.
From the Bagpiper's perspective:
- 12:00pm - Warm up bagpipes.
- 1:00pm - Dress in uniform.
- 2:00pm - Leave for the church. This allows in hour of travel in late afternoon.
- 3:00pm - Arrive at the church one hour before. This guarantees a timely start and allows time to check the "layout" for unforeseen issues and final tune up of the bagpipes.
- 4:00pm - Piping begins
As you can see, there is the minimum of four hours just in the preparation.
- $100-$300 per hour for DJ.
- $100-$350 Organist service fees. (one hour for service only)
- $400 Harpist fees for one hour before wedding reception.
With the information above, you should be able to create a budget with regards to hiring a Bagpiper.
Not All Bagpipers are Equal
OK, I got the budget, now how can I tell one Bagpiper's talents from another?
All Bagpipers have the opportunity to develop their skills through competitions. Bagpipe competitions are set to different grade levels.
These grade levels are as follows:
- Grade V through Grade I are amateur
- Grade "Open" is "Professional".
Data below is from the Western United States Pipe Band Association.
- Grade V - Student or beginner
- Grade IV - 57% of the bagpipers you hear are at this rank. These Bagpipers may or may not be able to tune their pipes.
- Grade III - 28% of the Bagpipers play at this level. Must be able to tune their own bagpipes.
- Grade II - 9% of the Bagpipers should be able to play tunes such as Jigs, Reels, Hornpipes, and other tunes.
- Grade I - 4% of the Bagpipers Crop without the cream.
- Open - 2% of the Bagpipers Cream of the crop.
What to ask before hiring:
- What was the last Grade Level of competition you competed at?
- Are there any solo recordings of you playing?
If the price is "too good" to be true, listen to a recording of them. Then listen to one of our recordings. If you cannot tell the difference, then you should have a good Bagpiper.
From start up to finish, the Bagpipe should sound pleasant, warm, exciting, not loud, harsh, high pitched and squeaky.