Acoustic guitars, cellos, and harps are great instruments for providing ongoing, background music. They can be played both indoors and outdoors and can adjust their volume to match the location and setting. From "pianissimo" to "fortissimo", these instruments have a dynamic range that makes them quite versatile and 'blend into the background' when needed.
Bagpipes on the other hand have a single volume much louder than guitars and strings. Not only does the volume impact how long they should be played (especially for indoor locations), but the sound also naturally draws guests' attention. For that reason, it's important to be strategic in how the bagpipes can be used at your event. Think of them as your "auditory spotlight".
This means that at weddings, the bride should not have to compete with the bagpipes for attention. If the bagpiper and bride are at opposite ends of the aisle - should the bagpiper play? Or should the bagpiper be part of the processional so the bride can be the sole center of attention?
For wedding receptions - bagpipes are a great way of announcing the newlyweds with a grand entrance, but does it lose some of the effect if the bagpipes continue to provide 'background' music?
At memorials, bagpipes are particularly good at "book-ending" the service. They can play at the beginning to set the tone for the service and again at the end as a final send off without drawing attention away from the friends and family gathered.
If playing as guests are arriving to a party, should the piper play at the valet stand or does it make more sense to have the music closer to where people are gathering? Are guests arriving as a single group or within a relatively short span, or are arrivals staggered over 45 minutes?
While each event is different, using the bagpipes strategically can help ensure the bagpipes delight your guests and don't inadvertently draw attention away. If you have any questions on how you can better utilize this "spotlight" for your event, please let me know!