Today was the Payson Scottish Festival – a smalltown highland games, with a lot of stuff packed into a small space. The park where the festival is held is full of mature trees, which provide much-needed shade for the participants. This shade was especially welcome today, since the temperatures have been in the 100’s for the last few days.
This was my second time competing solo (and with the band) so I had an opportunity to put into practice the lessons learned from the Salt Lake Games a month earlier. At Salt Lake I had shot myself in the foot somewhat by choosing a 2/4 march that was way too hard. I decided, as an experiment, to change to very easy tune (The High Road to Gairloch) and this proved successful. I did not place in the solo events, but I felt I gave a much better account of myself, and garnered some encouraging remarks from the judges in both the 2/4 and the slow march.
It is clear to me now that the lack of regular, critical feedback is an issue. Despite my good intentions, I still have yet to schedule a regular personal lesson with an experienced piper. Currently I am piping blind, as far as technique is concerned. I will have to remedy this situation if I want to improve.
I was a lot less nervous about the band competition than I had been a month earlier at Salt Lake. I’ve practiced with the band plenty, and play the tunes quite confidently, so I could focus on our Pipe Major and making sure I kept my blowing steady. One of the solo judges in the morning had given me a heads-up: he told me I was moving around a lot and this was a sign of unsteady blowing. He told me he always looked for the waving drones in band competitions and stood behind those pipers. I tried my utmost to remain motionless during our set – I think I did OK!
Well, that’s my last outing competing this year – my band plays in California and Ontario before the season ends, but I am traveling to neither, so it’s time to plan for the Fall and for next year.