15-Year-Old Plays Taps At Military Funerals And Recruits Other Teens To Do The Same

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Shortly after Katie Prior, a 15-year-old from Oklahoma, started playing trumpet, her great-grandfather, a WWII veteran became ill and passed away. At the time of his death, Katie and her family talked about how wonderful it would be if she could play Taps at his funeral, but she didn’t have a chance to learn the notes in time.

Five years of trumpet lessons later, Katie not only learned to play Taps, but she also came to find out that most veterans’ funerals use a recorded version of the song. “There are over 1,500 veterans passing away each day and not enough military buglers to attend every funeral. Out of respect for service to our country, I feel that veterans’ final honors are more worthy of a live rendition of our National Song of Remembrance,” Katie explains.

Wanting to give veterans the respect they deserve, Katie was moved to start Youth Trumpet & Taps Corps (YTTC), a non-profit service organization that trains and supports high school trumpet players to “use their musical gifts to honor military veterans.”


Once trained to Katie’s satisfaction, student volunteers are paired with funeral directors to play for military funerals. In addition to sounding Taps at funerals, the teens also perform at Veterans and Memorial Day ceremonies, greet arriving and departing soldiers at airports, and assist with veteran organization fundraisers.

Katie first started YTTC locally as her Girl Scout Gold Award project, but has since expanded the program to five other states: Colorado, Texas, Illinois, Wisconsin and Nebraska. So far, more than forty kids have joined the cause. It’s her goal to have at least one Taps player in every state.

In addition to her work with Youth Trumpet & Taps Corps, Katie is also a VA Medical Center Volunteer, and a member of the International Trumpet Guild. She has been recognized as a Jefferson Awards Globe Changer and a White House Champion of Change.

“Anyone can use their gifts to serve their communities or those around them. It’s an amazing opportunity to be able to do something you love and still be able to serve other people.”

Recently, Katie had the opportunity to tell her inspiring story, you can watch it here…

To get involved and learn more

  • Alex Gutjahr

    I joined the Canadian Armed Forces in 2007 as a musician and worked in that job until last year (switched trades). Throughout my service I have played Last Post (the Commonwealth’s version of Taps) at many Remembrance Day ceremonies, mess dinners and other events. Some time in my second or third year I got tasked to play at the funeral of a soldier that died in Afghanistan; never before and never since in my music career have I played a more nerve racking and emotional gig. To stand next to a grave of a young man that gave his life for his country with his family grieving right next to me was a real test of my resolve to hold it together and complete the task at hand.

    Playing a veteran’s funeral isn’t quite the same as playing one of a soldier that dies in service; but good for these kids for stepping up to the plate. The service they are providing is meaningful to the families and they are gaining an experience and connection to something they will never forget for the rest of their lives.