It’s been a while since I’ve posted a video, so here’s some footage of the 2/4 march competition at the Argyllshire Gathering at Oban in 1991. The first piper is Canadian Michael Grey playing Major Manson at Clachantrushal, and the second is Colin MacLellan playing the Knightswood Ceilidh. Though born and raised in Scotland, Colin lived and played in Canada for many years. It’s interesting to note that he doesn’t march back and forth; instead he marches in a full circle, never stopping to turn around.
The video was posted by Michael Grey.
The results from my solo piping competitions.
Back Bay Solo Piping Contest, Boston, MA, March 27, 2010
Judge: Adam Holdaway
Sets Submitted: Hugh Kennedy, The Shepherd’s Crook, Dr. MacPhail’s Reel; Major Manson at Clachantrushal,Arniston Castle, Major David Manson
Set played: Hugh Kennedy, Shepher’d Crook, Dr. MacPhail’s Reel
Judge: Lezlie Webster
Tunes Submitted: The Massacre of Glencoe, The MacFarlane’s Gathering, Black Donald’s March
Tune played: Black Donald’s March
Event: 6/8 March
Judge: Adam Holdaway Tunes Submitted: Dr. Ross’ 50th Welcome to the Argyllshire Gathering, The Dundee City Police Pipe Band
Tune played: The Dundee City Police Pipe Band
As I type this, I’m sitting in a hotel room the night before my first competition in grade 1. I’ve had a lot on my mind over the last few days, and to say I’m completely ready for or not nervous about this competition is not entirely honest. I feel like the difference in playing level from grade 2 to 1 is a big one, and my only goal this weekend is to play my tunes at a grade 1 level. I have no delusions about ending up in the prize list, but I need to demonstrate, if only to myself, that I can play at this level and that the grading committee was correct in deciding to upgrade me.
The day is more interesting than one of my usual contests for two reasons: first, I am acting as the EUSPBA monitor, and second, the evening holds a concert by the Stuart Highlanders Pipe Band. I’m looking forward to both of those things, for different reasons. It should be fun; I’ll keep you posted.
I’m pleased to announce that I’ll be playing for a bit on St. Patrick’s Day, Wednesday this week, at the 302 Roadhouse in Fryeburg, Maine. It will be in the evening that I’m playing, but I don’t have a specific time. Stop by my favorite watering hole in Fryeburg for good food, good drink, and good tunes.
If you follow the blog, you’ll know I’m engaged in the BagpipeLessons.com 30 Day Practice Challenge. Here is a quote from Jori Chisholm, the starter of the challenge, from an article he wrote for Piping Today:
“What is practice? How is practice different from simply playing your instrument? Practice is focused on making changes and producing results. Good practice leads to learning new skills, achieving mastery, or building consistency.”
There is indeed a distinct difference between practice and playing, and I try to remember that. Playing is good for the pipes to keep them going, but it won’t help the piper improve. Practice involves critically listening to your own playing, picking out and fixing trouble spots, and repetition to ingrain embellishments, exercises, and tunes into your subconscious memory.
I’ve already practiced today, but I’m going to practice again shortly, for three reasons: first, I didn’t play yesterday (I didn’t intentionally skip, but my schedule was so full I honestly didn’t have a chance to get the pipes out); second, I didn’t have time to play any piobaireachd before breakfast; and third it’s such a fantastic day that I’m going to play outside for the first time this year.
I heard from my friend who is organizing the Back Bay Solo Piping Contest later this month that he’s had quite a number of donations from various sponsors. He told me specifically that the prize for the overall winner of the Grade 1 piping is a blackwood Henderson chanter; in his words, a “killer donation.”
That makes this the first time I’ll ever be competing in a contest where there’s more than a trophy for the winner, so it’s a little extra motivation to practice. I’m not expecting much from my first contest in grade 1, competing against others who have been winning in this grade for several years, but I’ll throw my hat into the ring to see how it goes.
I posted recently about the BagpipeLessons.com 30 Day Practice Challenge, in which well-known piper Jori Chisholm is challenging pipers to practice for 30 consecutive days.
Directed practice always works better than just playing, so it helps to have some goals. Here are a few things I’d like to accomplish during the month of this challenge.
- Play my pipes every day
- Decide which tunes I’ll be submitting for my first competition on March 27 and focus on them.
- Learn a new piobaireachd (The Little Spree)
- Every day, listen to one piobaireachd I’ve never heard before, played by a professional or top amateur player. The Captain’s Corner has a lot of these tunes available for download.
Do you have any goals for the month?
In its statement, the challenge is simple: commit to practice your bagpipes every day for 30 days. Actually carrying it out will likely be difficult, because these things always are. I’m committing to it, and if you’re a piper I suggest you try it too.
I started tonight, just before dinner, and had a nice run through of one of my MSR sets, a 6/8 march, and the first half of a piobaireachd. Between work and finding a good practice location, I will have to scramble sometimes to get it in, but I’m going to give it a shot. Ideally I’d like to manage a good session on both pipes and practice chanter every day, but thinking realistically I’ll shoot for playing pipes each of the 30 days. This challenge could help me quite a bit, since my first competition of the 2010 season is just before the end of the month.
To help you keep track, Jori has posted a checklist on his blog, available for download and printing. It might be a good idea to use the list to sketch out a practice schedule, or some goals.
Speaking of goals, I’ll plan to post a few goals I have for this challenge in the next day or so. Feel free to comment with some of your goals as well. Happy piping, and practice hard.