As a wee lad, I started playing bagpipes when I was 7 years old on the Isle of Skye near Dunvegan Castle in Scotland.
I received my advance piping instruction from the "Great Ones!" - Donald Shay Ramsey & John D. Burgess/Willie Ross - Revolutionary bagpipers of their time that brought "Rock & Roll" into piping in the early and mid-20th Century.
I was born into a Scottish Family of musicians and my piping career really catapulted at the age of 13 in San Francisco, California under my piping instructor, J. William Merriman, of the Prince Charles Pipe Band.
In America, I was extremely lucky and honored to be taught by a World Champion Piper - Ian Whitelaw - a pure traditionalist and a lover of wolves and kindred spirits. He regularly emphasized the necessity to continually hone one's technical skills in order to evoke the true elegance of the highland instrument.
During my college years, I competed professionally in what is now called - "Open." And in 1983, I performed for the Queen of England at a state visit in Seattle, Washington at the Westin Hotel. Over the next several years, I piped for a candidate running for President of the United States; let alone many other domestic and foreign dignitaries and celebrities.
Over the years I've been honored to perform and compete as a corp piper with several premier Grade-1 Pipe Bands at the World Championships in Glasgow, Scotland. I've won many international solo piping competitions and was a member of pipe bands that won several major pipe band competitions. But what I really love is winning the hearts of my audiences.
I play genuine Silver and Ivory “Henderson Bagpipes” made in 1912.
With over 40 years of bagpiping experience, I guarantee a beautiful sounding instrument and the very best of the best musicianship on the planet.
(Máel Coluim MacMhurchaidh)
Any special occasion, whether private, corporate or public, is enhanced by the presence of an expert piper in full regalia. "Bagpiper Bill's" music stirs emotions at weddings, funerals, and life celebrations. He knows how overwhelming planning an event can be and his promise to you is to make his role as easy as possible. Before you agree to hire him, he can play tunes over the phone or Skype for your selection choices. About a week out, he can touch base and re-confirm the event details. Bill will help make your event successful and something beautifully memorable to look back upon.
Any special occasion, whether private, corporate or public, is enhanced by the presence of a professional piper in full regalia. Bill's music stirs emotions at weddings, funerals, and life celebrations. He will help make your occasion successful and something beautifully memorable to look back upon.
Fees vary based on time and distance. See Section Above - "Bagpiping Services Offered"
The cost of hiring a bagpiper depends on many factors including length of performance, travel distance and time, any costs (tolls, gas, taxes), special tune requests, etc.
Additional factors like the bagpiper's years of experience or the local market supply and demand might influence the quote. Each bagpiper will have their own method for determining the final cost but knowing it's a combination of factors can help explain some differences in price range.
Especially if it's your first time hiring a piper - it's somewhat natural to associated the quoted cost directly to the time spent performing. Because it's easy to subconsciously form this association - a price quote can sometimes result in some sticker shock; but it's important to understand the full context in terms of preparation, travel time, and the actual performance.
Even if the musical performance itself only lasts 15 minutes, the bagpiper is still investing time "behind the scenes" starting with the phone or email consultation and including bagpipe maintenance, dressing in uniform, traveling to and from the venue, any pre-event rehearsals, learning or practicing any requested, non-repertoire tunes, etc. (not to mention the financial investment to maintain the $10,000 (+) instrument and uniform!) So what on the surface might appear as a 15 minute engagement could in reality add up to several hours in total.
To give an example, the cost of dining out at a fancy restaurant isn't limited to the short period of time spent actually eating, but rather takes into account the cost to the restaurant in purchasing the food, the skills of the chef and their many years of practice and refinement, the quality of service provided, etc. Re-framing the quoted cost in this context offers up a new perspective on the quoted rates of many top-rate, professional bagpipers.
"Bagpiper Bill" is a professional piper, available anytime and on SHORT NOTICE.
Call "Bagpiper Bill" to discuss your event & reserve your very own Piper today!
A set of bagpipes consists of a chanter, which is something like a small shawm, and one or more drones, which are effectively shawms without fingerholes, so that each drone plays only one note. Chanter and drones are plugged into stocks (bits of wood with holes drilled in them). The stocks are sewn into a sealed leather bag, which is made airtight with the application of seasoning compound, so that air can escape only through the stocks, and therefore through the drones and chanter. (Don't ask what goes into seasoning compound. You don't want to know). Another stock houses the blowpipe. When the piper blows into the blowpipe, the bag inflates. When it's fully inflated, a little more lung pressure will start chanter and drones sounding together. That's the reason for plugging them all into the same bag - ingenious, eh?
The piper begins by tuning the drones. He does this by sliding bits of them in and out to make them longer or shorter, until they are perfectly in tune with each other and with the chanter. Now he fingers the holes on the chanter, and you get shawm tunes with drone accompaniment. When the piper runs out of breath, he stops blowing and squeezes the bag with his arm, still playing the chanter. The blowpipe has a simple valve (just a leather flap, but it works), which stops air being pushed back out of the blowpipe, so the sound just keeps going by arm pressure until the piper has breathed in and is ready to start blowing again.
Be careful not to hire the wrong Piper or you may scare off your guests!
Better yet, hire "Bagpiper Bill" for your event and have an authentic and professional bagpiper make it Amazing!
Grace your wedding with a highly-skilled, professional bagpiper.
Weddings are so special, and I have had the privilege to perform for more than 500. I know I'm doing something right when I'm playing for a young couple's wedding and I was the bagpiper at their parent's wedding.
Whether your ceremony takes place inside a chapel, church or historic building, or outside in the mountains, by a lake or rushing river, the Great Highland Bagpipes add a timeless beauty to any wedding ceremony.
Bagpiper Bill performs for over 25 weddings annually throughout Oregon and surrounding states each year.
Call him anytime; Bill would love to talk to you about your upcoming wedding, and to help you arrange music for your guest arrivals, ceremony processional, unity candle/ reflective moment, recessional, leading guests from ceremony to cocktail hour music and entrance into the reception music, or for any combination of the above.
Add the bagpipes for a special birthday SURPRISE, as the piper starts in the distance, walking towards and ending at the birthday person. Bagpiper Bill will march in as a surprise; performing for the honored person a selection of favorite songs (from Irish Eyes are Smiling to Scotland-the-Brave, to Amazing Grace) before playing 'Happy Birthday' on the bagpipes at the very end of the party - everyone joins in in singing Happy Birthday with the pipes!
Memorials and Funerals
Grace your family's service with skilled bagpiping at an affordable price. Bagpiper Bill can help you add a selection of beautiful tunes to your funeral service. With over 50 funeral services annually throughout Oregon and surrounding states, Bill adds a soulful beauty to any service.
Bagpiper Bill, for example, can pipe as mourners gather for the funeral; lead the cortege to the place of service; lead bearers into the place of service; or pipe a lament after the final words of committal.
Recently Bill performed at Arlington Cemetery in Virginia as a solo piper for a Marine Corp Sargent killed in Afghanistan, the family flew him to Washington DC to perform at the conclusion of the full military honors ceremony.
Tunes can be selected from a wide variety - such as Highland or Lowland Scots songs or perhaps melodies with military or geographic associations. Many Irish tunes can also be played with the Highland Bagpipe.
Popular tunes include Amazing Grace, Skye Boat Song, and Flower of Scotland - Scotland's National Anthem. Traditional laments include Flowers of the Forest or Lochaber No More. Gaelic airs include The Mist Covered Mountains and My Home. Irish melodies include Danny Boy, Fields of Athenry, and The Galway Shawl.
You can be assured that you are in good hands. Whether in a church, a cemetery service, a formal Military service, or a scattering of the ashes, Bill's pipes will add a soul-lifting and a profoundly emotional ambiance to your family's service.
Celebrations, Golf Tournaments, Anniversaries
Bagpiper Bill will bring an element of surprise to your guests or even a tear to their eye. He is sure to make your day extra special and one not to be forgotten. Bill has a range of different colored kilts and Scottish regalia that he can wear to your event. Also, there will be no shortage of tunes for your event as Bill has a repertoire of over 3000 tunes, so there will surely be music that fits your needs. He is also more than willing to work with last minute requests.
Add the sound of the bagpipes to your event and make the day a great day to remember. Bagpiper Bill performs at a wide-range of festivals to private, intimate ceremonies. Bill has an ability to be creative and instantly adaptable to the needs of his clients guarantying the events success. He loves to perform and any event becomes alive with his melodic and dynamic music.
School Events/ Cultural Days/ Boy Scout Troops
Bagpiper Bill performs for schools in his continued commitment to help culturally educate the next generation about Scotland and Ireland. Having lived as a boy in Scotland, Bill entertains children with a fantastic video show called "A Wee Trip to the Old Country - Our Beloved Scotland " while performing on his soothing, electronic bagpipes in the background. He gets the children dancing and marching to the Great Highland Bagpipes afterwards - they love it !
Add the sterling harmonic sound of "The Great Highland Bagpipes" to your event to make it Amazing !
The 153rd consecutive Scottish Highland Gathering and Games takes place at the Alameda County Fairgrounds in Pleasanton on Labor Day Weekends (September 1 - 2) 2018.
Scottish Highland Gathering and Games is a 2-day event being held from 1st September to 2nd September 2018 at the Alameda County Fairgrounds in Pleasanton, United States Of America. This event showcases products like Archery, British Cars, Birds of Prey, Celtic Heritage, Childrens Glen, Coos & Clydesdales, Friday Night Concert, Grandstand Show, Heavy Athletic Events, Highland Dancing, Irish Dancing, Kilted Mile Race, Living History, Piping and Drumming, Rugby and Shinty, Sheep Dog Trials, Soccer, Whisky Tasting and lots more etc. in the Sporting Goods, Toys & Games, Musical Instruments, Food & Beverage industries.
“Great piping! The Scottish contingent were very, very impressed by your skills! They’re a tough crowd too!”
Karen Hoffman, Manznaita, OR
"Bill is committed to excellence...a dedicated professional, yet personable bagpiper who delivers a terrific performance...time after time."
Andrew Christie-Funeral Director, Wilhelm Park Funeral Home
I booked Bagpiper Bill for my destination wedding in Sisters, Oregon. We wanted to add a touch of home to our ceremony (my husband and I are both Scottish). We were abundantly delighted with Bill's performance. He played our song choices perfectly. I had kept one of the song choices a secret from my husband and Bill did a fantastic job with the surprise. Our guests who had mostly all traveled from Scotland were overcome with emotion and there were a few happy tears when he gave a magnificent performance of 'Rowan Tree' as he played me up the aisle. Communicating with Bill from overseas was seamless via email (and at times by Skype!) and he also kept in touch on our arrival in Oregon. Not only did he ask what I wanted him to play, but he asked what colors he should wear that would best suit my wedding. He showed up early on the wedding day with a huge smile, he introduced himself to my family, who loved that, especially my nana who was visiting from Inverness, Scotland for my wedding. She loved it, and he took personal pics with them before the ceremony even started. His professionalism and kind manner made him a pleasure to work with. My guests absolutely loved his presence there, his piping was spot on and amazing! The harmonics from his pipes were spectacular, better than an organ in a church! Everyone commented on how cool it was to have a bagpiper there, and not only how great he was but how friendly he was too! If anyone is looking for a bagpiper for any occasion I would highly recommend Bill. He is the best! 5 Stars!!
Michelle Marshall, Hacienda Heights, CA
Bill was a wonderful surprise! Personable and talented beyond my hope. I booked him to pipe at my Father's 90th birthday party. Dad had tears trickle down his face and was trying to tap his feet on the wheelchair foot rests. Bill the Piper was all he spoke about after the party. I am grateful to Bill for making such an impression and providing such great entertainment for all of us. Thank you for your talent.
Judy Ray, Seattle, WA
Wonderful service and bagpipes was just the right addition.
What a great addition to my husband’s birthday! Everybody loved it!
He did everything we asked and more. Highly recommend.
Bagpiper Bill was absolutely phenomenal. He was very accommodating to perform at our out-of-town wedding 3 hours away, was extremely helpful upfront in the planning process, and everything went off perfectly without a hitch on our wedding day itself. Bill was a special addition to our wedding ceremony that we will never forget !!!
Billy Luke, Seattle, WA
Dear Bill, Thank you so much for your beautiful playing yesterday. I got tears in my eyes when I heard you start playing outside. I’ll never forget it! I could just see my Dad marching up and down our street in a kilt with “Scotland the Brave” blasting on the stereo. He was very proud of his Scottish ancestry. My brother was worried about how loud the pipes would be and that’s why you were outside – if it were up to me, I would have had you in the main hall with us! If I ever need a bagpipe player again – and I have birthdays from time-to-time, so this can certainly happen – I have your number.
Janet Rivera - Astoria, OR
Bill was sensational. Every single person at our Corvallis, OR wedding (185 people) was blown away by this surprise. I had Bill play "Highland Cathedral" on the bagpipes as a solo after the bridesmaids walked down the aisle. It was a total surprise that no one expected. Everyone's jaws dropped when he began "Here Comes the Bride" on the pipes. I then followed him with my father down the aisle after he had walked down by himself. At the end of the wedding, for the recessional, he played "Scotland the Brave" and it gave everyone chills. Best idea ever! He was PERFECT in every way! Would recommended him to everyone!!!
Michael O’Connell, Beaverton, OR
Bagpiper Bill was hired as a surprise for my bride on our wedding day. He arrived early enough to meet with the wedding coordinator and the pastor. Over all communication with him was very easy and he was always prompt to return emails and phone calls. The music you played was exceptional and the walk from the alter was world class. I would recommend Bagpiper Bill to anyone! My wife and her family all thought he was a great surprise addition and all were choked up with tears. Thanks for making my wedding such a special occasion.
Paul Hamilton, Eugene, OR
Bill was easy to work with at our pub and restaurant. The set up was effortless. He arrived on time and knew exactly what to do. Bill engaged in conversations with our employees who wanted to know more about the bagpipes and his experience. Funny, entertaining, witty, and an awesome bagpiper (and I have heard many here in our establishment over the years), Bill is a true professional and passionate artist. Last but not least, his music was fun and flawless for our St. Patrick's Day event! Thank you, Bagpiper Bill. We will most definitely have you back next year!
Fiona (McDougall) Henderson, Murphy's Pub, Westport, OR
Bill is an amazing bagpiper and exceeded all of our expectations. He took the time to come to our daughter's wedding rehearsal so we could better understand what we wanted him to do. He played outside of the church before and after the wedding, played and led the bride in the processional, and led the bride and groom in the recessional. Everyone commented on how wonderful he was, and he attracted quite a few passers-by with his amazing talent. He played the tunes we requested, then ad-libbed the rest. His selection pleased both our UK & Irish families. I would give him the highest recommendation. Thanks Bill!
Kevin Finnerty, Spokane, WA
Two words to describe Bagpiper Bill - " fabulous and spectacular " My family and friends all thank you for the performance that you gave. My mother-in-law from Scotland's final and last request was to be brought to Florida where she could face Scotland and sit in the sun. Piping her to her last resting place was everything that my wife and family could have hoped for. Bill you are truly amazing, a rare commodity, you accommodated us in every way possible and worked around our crazy schedule. Thank you again, you'll be performing for us again soon ... From the house of MacKenzie and Galloway, God bless you and your family.
Paul Peters, Spokane, WA
With very little notice, Bill was able to fulfill our wish to have bagpipes at my mother’s 80th birthday party. I wasn't sure how “Happy Birthday” would be on the bagpipes, but he played it perfectly and the harmonics from his pipes was magical. Bill was quick to respond and very flexible with our desire to make his performance a surprise for her and the rest of our guests. He agreed to hide behind a fence and wait for his moment to walk up from the park behind our house. It was a very special moment for us all. Bravo!
Alan Schendel, Tigard, OR
Bagpiper Bill offers significant discounts to non-profits and often times performs pro bono for the needy. In addition, Bill offers a 15% discount to members of the military and police and fire professionals.
Bagpiper Bill plays "The Great Highland Bagpipes" for Weddings and Funerals in Portland Oregon and the Greater Northwest Region, including Washington, Idaho, Montana, and Alaska.
Can you play Amazing Grace?
What do you wear under your kilt?
IT'S BAD LUCK FOR A PIPER TO SHOW & TELL, BUT IT CAN'T HURT TO ASK
What do you charge?
THE LOWEST RATES FOR THE BEST PERFORMANCE PIPER IN THE NORTHWEST
Contact "Bagpiper Bill" for a Free Quote
From the Church to the Reception
If the Church and Reception Hall are close by, many couples opt to have
a parade with your bagpiper leading the guests thru the local streets to the delight of passersby.
At the Reception
You may want to consider a Grand Entrance by having your bagpiper play the couple into the reception during their introduction to the guests.
How early should I book BagPiper Bill ?
As soon as you have decided to book, please don't delay. Many of the more popular times of the year book fast, so to avoid disappointment and future regret, early booking is always recommended.
Please click on the button at the top or bottom of this site to proceed to my booking page.
If I book BagPiper Bill, are you the Piper who will show up at my wedding?
YES. Unlike some unscrupulous wedding service providers, I NEVER book a wedding and send someone else in my place. When you book BagPiper Bill, you get BagPiper Bill and you can rest assured that I will be the one performing.
On the Steps of the Church
I can play a selection of tunes as your guests arrive and at the conclusion of the ceremony as your guests exit the church and await your departure. This is perhaps the most common performance request that I receive and it is very effective at pleasing your guests.
Many couples are choosing to include the Pipes in the service itself, with excellent results. Here Comes the Bride, Canon in D, Highland Cathedral, and Mhairi’s Wedding are a few suggestions that work wonderfully.
** Note. If you are considering this option, please consult with Clergy and receive permission to have me perform at their church.
The origin of the bagpipes can be traced back to antiquity. The bagpipes probably originated as a rustic instrument in many cultures because a herdsman had the necessary materials at hand: a goat or sheep skin and a reed pipe. The bagpipes are mentioned in the Bible, and historians believe that the bagpipes originated in ancient Samaria. It may be possible that even Jesus while attending to his lambs played the pipes. Through Celtic migration, the bagpipes were introduced to Persia and India, and subsequently to Greece and Rome. In fact, a Roman historian of the first century wrote that the Emperor Nero knew how to play the pipe with his mouth and the bag thrust under his arm. During the Middle Ages, the bagpipes were heard and appreciated by all levels of society.
Bagpipes have always been made in many shapes and sizes, and the bagpipes have been played throughout Europe from before the Norman Conquest until the present day. Medieval bagpipes usually had a single drone. (As in contemporary illustrations of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales for English single-drone pipes.) Around 1400, most shepherd-style bagpipes acquired a second drone. A third drone was added after 1550. (See paintings by Brueghel and the illustrations in Praetorius' Syntagma Musicum)
The Renaissance period also saw the advent of small, quiet chamber bagpipes such as Praetorius' Hummelchen or the French shuttle-drone models, some blown with bellows under the arm rather than with the mouth.
The construction of the bagpipes allows a continuous supply of air to be maintained. By squeezing the bag of the bagpipes with the left hand while a breath is taken, the flow of air can be kept up in both the drone bagpipes and chanter. Other features of the bagpipes are the blowpipe and the double reed of the chanter and drone. The blowpipe of the bagpipes contains a round piece of leather hinged onto the bag end which acts as a one-way valve. As a bagpiper blows air in, the flap opens; when the bagpiper stops blowing, the air pressure within the bag of the bagpipes forces the flap shut. The chanter has seven finger holes and a thumb hole (9 notes in total) and has a usual range of an octave and one note.
The bagpipes are ideal for solo dances and monophonic music. Bagpipes have been mentioned for use in polyphony, but if so, problems would arise. The drone would preclude the possibility of any change of mode, and the continuous sound would prohibit observance of rests.
During the Renaissance, the popularity of the bagpipes increased, and the bagpipes gradually moved from country to court. Both Edward II and Edward III had bagpipers at court. King Henry VIII, composer and music patron also had an extensive collection of instruments which, according to a contemporary account, included one with pipes of ivorie and a bagge covered with purple vellat. As a rustic instrument, the bagpipes have been immortalized in the paintings of Pieter Breughel and his contemporaries.
The Scottish Highland Pipes are now the only ones commonly known worldwide. They, and the publicity, are both a product of the nineteenth century. Scotland was not particularly famous for its pipers until comparatively recently. The three-drone Highland pipes were a development of an earlier two-drone pipe - the Irish Great Pipe, or Piob Mhor. This was itself probably a development of an older single-drone pipe.
The modern Highland pipe, and probably its ancestors, were designed as war pipes, the main requirement of which was absolute maximum volume. To achieve these sound levels, they were inevitably made rather raucous, and they require unbelievable amounts of lung pressure. If you're thinking of taking up bagpipe playing, I'd advise you start with anything other than the Highland. You'll be doing yourself and your neighbors a favor.
On the other hand, the Highland Pipes come with a big folk repertoire and a superbly virtuosic technique which is the envy of many other pipers. This piping tradition was also originally Irish. Scots who became particularly adept at piping were sent to "finishing schools" in Ireland. It's perhaps appropriate that Irish Uillean pipes are now becoming better known, thanks to shows like "Riverdance", and a general interest in all things Celtic. My own favorite, though, is the Northumberland pipe, which is the one I would play if I didn't have to remain historical.
How should I best use a Piper at my Wedding?
$250 - $500
$300 - $750
or Anywhere else
Grace your family's service with skilled bagpiping at an affordable price.
$200 - $250
$250 - $500
or Anywhere else
Do you have questions, want to book the piper, or explore the possibilities? Reach out and let's make magic happen.
300 Southwest Main Street, Portland, Oregon 97204, United States