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Protocol for Taps


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 National Cemetery 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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  1. Tapsbugler Tapsbugler Post author | February 27, 2020

    Yes. That would be appropriate!

  2. Dennis Doiron Dennis Doiron February 27, 2020

    I am a performer who includes a tribute to veterans in my show. I get the audience to sing all of the service anthems and I ask all veterans and active service members to stand and be recognized. I would like to add Taps to this segment, played by a talented 10 year old boy. Is this appropriate. Thanks for all you do.

  3. Dennis Doiron Dennis Doiron February 27, 2020

    Thank you for the excellent information. I am a performer who includes a tribute to Veterans in my show. After a brief spoken intro, I get the crowd to sing all of the service anthems and ask Veterans to stand and be recognized. I often perform with a 10 year old boy who now plays the trumpet [he plays Taps without keys on the trumpet] and would like to add Taps to this segment of the show. Is this appropriate? How would you do it? Thank you so much.

  4. Tapsbugler Tapsbugler Post author | February 11, 2020

    Yes, you can wear civilian attire
    My guidelines are on the website

  5. Chaplain DOV Chaplain DOV February 10, 2020

    Can someone in civilian attire sounds TAPS or must you be in uniform to do so?

  6. Tapsbugler Tapsbugler Post author | November 2, 2019

    Yes, if in uniform, salute after Taps


  7. Becky Becky November 1, 2019

    Hi, BSA Scout salute protocol is that when in field uniform (class A), the flag is saluted when raising, lowering, passing by etc and they say it is customary to salute when taps is playing. If a Scout is playing taps for ceremony or military funeral, and is in field uniform, does said Scout bring down the bugle then present the Scout salute?

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