This has been the cry of our in-house band instructor the last few weeks. As we have started back in with regular band practice for the Fall, my band, the Wasatch and District Pipe Band has been getting back to basics.
This is great for me, because, as a new member, I never really got to grips with all the tunes in the band’s competition medley last season. I managed to get the three tunes of the march medley memorized and halfway decent, but the eight tunes of the main medley proved too much in addition to everything else in my busy schedule.
So, we are playing through all eight tunes at considerably reduced tempi, in some cases at half-speed. The goal is to get the band to focus on technique (opening up doublings, placing gracenotes at the correct point of the beat, etc.) but for me it also gives me a gentle introduction to a competition set that I would never have dreamed of being able to play a year ago.
They’re good tunes too. Our opener – Coppermill – is wonderful swinging 2/4 marchlet and it just gets better from there.
The next challenge is to become so good at playing these tunes I get a regular spot on the competition roster. With over 20 active pipers, not everybody can play in competition. Still, all this technique work should help with solo skills too. Competing or not, I’m having a blast.