I appreciate all the replies. Good information.
The ceremony is Oct. 3. I will post a follow-up.
I should probably make a note here that when it came to doing funerals, at one point it had really become a routine thing - just another day, another cemetary and yet another rendition of "Taps." The most funerals I ever played in one day was 5 out at DC area cemetary called Harmony. We had gone out to do 4, but another funeral came in, and even though they hadn't officially requested military honors, the family asked the funeral director to ask us if we could do it. At the time the stock answer to that question was supposed to be "yes," so we did that one too. In all of those funerals, I always kept it in mind that while it may have been routine for me - "just another day at the office" - that it wasn't routine for the family grieving over their loved one, so I always put my heart and soul into it.
"What we do in life echoes in eternity"
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- Maximus Decimus Meridius
"A tool good enough to be so used and not too good"C.S. Lewis That Hideous Strength
I have to mentally and emotionally seperate myself from what's going on around me to be able to perform well. After doing so many of them, it isn't a problem for me, but I've never let them become "just another gig", either. I always remind myself that this is usually the last contact the deceased's family has with the military, and try to make it the best possible experience for them. I love to take these jobs because the families are so appreciative, and it really is gratifying to get such an emotional response to a performance! I have two that really stand out in my mind - one was in the pouring rain in Seattle - it rained so hard my raincoat and uniform under it were soaked through! I had to concentrate hard to just stand there and wait, but the sound that came out of my horn that day was almost supernatural it was so beautiful! The other was recent - I played a funeral a few months ago for a pilot who went MIA in 1972. He had a horse-drawn hearse pulled by a white horse wearing a big black plume and leather shoes that made him silent, and a fly-over that coincided perfectly with Taps. It was an honor to help give his family closure after all those years, and I really played from my heart for them.
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You know, the last Taps I played was for my Dad's funeral a few months ago. He was a WWII combat vet, and I wanted to be the one to do it for him. People later asked me how I managed to get through it, and I thought...how could I not do it well? I was playing for my Dad for the last time...
Never served myself, probably should have. My last experience was the end of June, for the family of a work friend. He was Navy, small cemetary in North Canton. Stayed kind of out of sight to the party, but they sure heard it. Cemetary caretaker said haveing a live redition sure beat the heck out of those electronics. Any time I have to sound Taps, I try to make sure that it does have some emotion to it.........Buck
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Check out also:
Performance Guidelines for Taps « Taps Bugler: Jari Villanueva
Today I played Taps at my father-in-law's internment ceremony at National Cemetery. Everything went well, although it didn't transpire quite as I expected.
I went early and was fortunate to witness the ceremony before ours. In presence were an active duty Navy officer and an active duty Marine Corps bugler. (I was later told that's unusual, and was done possibly because the decedent had been on active duty). The ceremony proceeded according the sequence everyone on this list has previously described, which is to say sounding of Taps was done shortly after the rifle volley (by the way, the Marine bugler played exquisitely). Between that ceremony and ours I introduced myself to the head of the Honor Guard and told him I would be sounding Taps for the next service, and asked if he could give me a rundown of anything I needed to know. He told me the sequence of events, which included, in particular: rifle volley, presentation of the flag, present arms, and Taps. I thought I hadn't heard correctly so I said, "but that isn't the sequence that you had in the last ceremony, was it?" and he said "no, the bugler screwed up, he played Taps right after the rifle volley."
So this didn't have a good effect on my allready heightened my anxiety level, because I wasn't confident that the leader of the Honor Guard was absolutely correct. I considered playing just the way the Marine bugler had done it, because even though it may not have been what the Honor Guard expected, it didn't seem to unset the ceremony in any way I noticed. Or I could wait until after the presentation of the flag, in which case, if I had been instructed incorrectly, there would be a long unexpected silence after the volley.
Fortunately, while I was stewing on this, I was approached by a civilian member of the Cemetery staff, who introduced himself and told me that he understood I was to be the bugler for the next ceremony. The first thing he told me was that he wanted me to know that they do the ceremony in a non-standard sequence and that I would be playing Taps after the presentation of the flag, not after the volley. That was a great reassurance, settling my nerves and allowing me to focus on the performance coming up, which offered no further surprises and went very well, if I do say so myself.
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