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


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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.


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.

For more information on the origin of Taps CLICK HERE

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 there are several) is presented.


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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80 Responses to “Protocol for Taps”

  1. Gerald Lagos says:

    LB is my Godson and his father Billy recently passed away. On Saturday I attended Billy’s Funeral and at the mass I learned Billy had served Four years in the Army. So as soon as the mass was over I rushed home (ten minutes away and in the opposite direction of the cemetery) to grab my trumpet… I raced over to Holy Cross Cemetery on the other side of town (A good twenty minutes from the church). I thought I had good chance to make there in time because the local sheriff’s office was too busy to provide a proper escort for the funeral procession. I was the last person to arrive at the graveside. I left the horn in my trunk. I walked briskly past some other late arrivals. I purposely positioned myself close to where I thought the military honor guard would be. I was immediately relieved to see what would appear to be a military bugler there to Sound Taps for Billy. I thought he was a real horn player. As time progressed I heard the words “PRESENT ARMS”. I was watching the dress uniformed bugler move the horn and flip what appeared to be a switch inside the bell of the bugle. He put the horn to his lips and nothing…He shook his head… he fiddled with the sound device for a few seconds… I was nearly panicking on the inside. He changed batteries but still nothing. Unfortunately I was parked almost a block away. As this was happening I made discrete contact with the funeral director I told him I have a trumpet and am willing and able. He expressed that they had it under control and told the gathered crowd that there would be a 30 second delay. At some point I didn’t wait for any instructions, I just sprinted to my car, grabbed my horn and sprinted back. I was trying to listen for taps as I was running back. The congregation had their backs to me at graveside. I waved my horn in the air to get the funeral directors attention. The director saw my horn and motioned me to come forward…I stopped ten yards short taking cover under a large Live Oak (Did I mention it was 53 degrees with a light drizzle) I took five seconds to catch my breath and then sounded taps the best I could. As I was playing, incidentally four Chinook Helicopters flew almost directly over the site. I almost choked when I saw them but I stayed focus on the mission. I have sounded Taps a couple of dozen times at Barrancas. It was decent but not my best. It was a lot better than a recording that wasn’t working. Actually it was a recording, a 1965 “Olds Recording” (same year as my birth) Trumpet. I guess I need to start keeping that Jupiter 416 Pocket Trumpet in my car. I thought I’d share this story with folks that might be able to relate. Thank you for taking the time to read this

  2. Tapsbugler says:

    I think that would be perfectly fine.
    Taps has become more and more a part of our American culture and in memory of those who have passed.

  3. Amber Rae Blackler says:

    I’ve been asked to play taps on the night of memorial day this year. There’s no ceremony,no funeral,no military ceremony or anything like that..but I’ve been asked to play to honor those we’ve lost and those who are still with us.
    The plan is to do it at the lake we live on. And their wanting to micropbyhone me and pump it through big speakers so its able to be heard everyone around the lake. I haven’t agreed to it yet because I thought Taps was for military ceremonies, funerals and at the end of the night for those active duty on base.
    Is it wrong to play taps without a ceremony or military event requiring taps be played. Or is it okay for me to play taps as a support of acknowledging those lost and those still alive?

  4. Tapsbugler says:


    That is for the Anthem

    We tried to get the code for Taps put in but it never made it.
    So there is no “official” document

  5. Tapsbugler says:


    36 U.S. Code § 301 – National anthem
    US Code

    The composition consisting of the words and music known as the Star-Spangled Banner is the national anthem.
    (b)Conduct During Playing.—During a rendition of the national anthem—
    (1) when the flag is displayed—
    (A) individuals in uniform should give the military salute at the first note of the anthem and maintain that position until the last note;
    (B) members of the Armed Forces and veterans who are present but not in uniform may render the military salute in the manner provided for individuals in uniform; and
    (C) all other persons present should face the flag and stand at attention with their right hand over the heart, and men not in uniform, if applicable, should remove their headdress with their right hand and hold it at the left shoulder, the hand being over the heart; and
    (2) when the flag is not displayed, all present should face toward the music and act in the same manner they would if the flag were displayed.

  6. devildog says:

    Is there a document that states what uniformed (civilian attire) service members and civilians are supposed to do when Taps plays on a base like there is for customs and courtesies (MCO p5060.20)? Or does everyone just follow this protocol?

  7. Channing Carder says:

    When Taps is sung by a school choir at an assembly, is it still appropriate for everyone to stand? Or is standing only required when it is sounded from a bugle? We were recently at a Veteran’s Day program at a school and when the kids sang it, no one stood. Just wondering if there is a difference between taps being played vs it being sung with words.

  8. Tapsbugler says:

    Thank you!
    Please sign up at http://www.TapsForVeterans.org
    Always looking for good buglers

  9. Howell Purvis says:

    Hello, I was a Naval Aviator for 10 years and Vietnam Veteran. I was also a Special Agent, U.S. Secret Service for 20 years. I retired in Jan of 1988. In June 2003 I was asked to play Taps for a friend. VFW 3036 Honor Guard just happened to be performing the ceremony that day. I was asked if I would be interested in playing for the Honor Guard. I agree and thus began a 15 year service of playing Taps for the VFW. I will be 84 on Dec. 4th and I have played for 516 funerals so far. We are not as thickly populated in Hattiesburg, Ms as other places and therefore not as many funerals. It has truly been an extreme honor to play Taps for our fallen service men and women. Thanks for your service Jari. Howell Purvis (601 794 7080)

  10. Tapsbugler says:

    I think that would be nice absent a bugler.

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