Taps Bugler: Jari Villanueva

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“ Welcome to Tapsbugler! Helping provide Taps for Veterans at military funerals is important to us! Please contact us on information about providing a live bugler to sound Taps at the ceremony for your loved one. Just click on Find A Bugler below. Please explore the website and I hope you come away with a little more knowledge about this great American treasure we have in those 24 notes. ”

Celebrate 150 Years of Taps

Protocol for Taps

Protocol for Taps
Instruction for military and civilian

One question I get often is what to do when Taps is sounded. What exactly is the protocol? In a nutshell, it’s the same protocol as when you hear the national anthem.

Definition of Taps

Taps is sounded at funerals, memorial services and wreath laying ceremonies. It is also the last call played at US military bases in the evening. Performance consists of 24 notes sounded on a bugle or trumpet.  Taps is performed by a solo bugler without accompaniment or embellishment.  Although sometimes performed with an echo, Taps is really meant to be sounded by a single bugler.

At funerals, military honors follow a certain sequence dictated by tradition and protocol. Three rifle volleys are fired, followed by the sounding of Taps. The flag is then folded and presented to the Next-of-Kin.
Sometimes there is not a firing party available and Taps will be sounded upon the signal from the military or funeral home director.

The sequence at Arlington can be found here:

At memorial services or special events Taps is usually sounded toward the end of the program, usually before the benediction or dismissal. At wreath laying ceremonies, Taps is usually sounded after the wreath (or last one if several) is presented.

Conduct During The Sounding of Taps

During a rendition of Taps at a military funeral, memorial service or wreath laying ceremony,

– All present not in uniform should stand at attention with the right hand over the heart;

– Men not in uniform should remove their headdress with their right hand and hold the headdress at the left shoulder, the hand being over the heart;

– Individuals in uniform should give the military salute at the first note of Taps and maintain that position until the last note (note: if you are inside and uncovered, you stand at attention);

– Veterans and active-duty service-members not in uniform may render the hand salute;

-If you are inside and not in uniform it is proper to stand during Taps

When Taps is sounded in the evening as the final call of the day at military bases, salutes are not required.

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39 Responses to “Protocol for Taps”

  1. Tapsbugler says:


  2. Gus Salem says:

    I heard it was protocol to turn out the lights on a military installment for the duration of the song. Is this true?

  3. Tapsbugler says:

    It is not appropriate

  4. James Helms says:

    I have recently been asked to play Taps at a non-military funeral. My instinct is that this is not appropriate. Am I correct?

  5. smokeyjoe says:

    At the wreath laying ceremony at the tomb of the unknowen ( Arlington Natioanal ) Donald Trump held his right hand over his heart during the playing of ‘Taps’. Every 7-8 second he would bring his hand outward appro: 2 inches and then return his hand back to his chest. I counted 11 times that he did this What does this signify?

  6. Tapsbugler says:

    You can hold your hand over your heart or not salute

  7. Tim Ferguson says:

    Can a civilian bugler (non veteran) render a hand salute after playing taps at a funeral for a veteran, and present himself with the same protocol followed by the United States Army buglers. (less of course the uniform)

    Thank you.

  8. Tapsbugler says:

    You do not need to be in the military to sound Taps at funerals

  9. Dominic says:

    Can anyone play Taps at a military funeral? Do they have to be military? Read that you can use someone from a school band or such.

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