top of box
bottom of box

Andrew Lenz's bagpipe journeyAndrew
seasoning hands playing drones bags and stocks people
reference articles competition journal piping links FAQ contact me

Andrew's Competition #10 - August 2, 2003

Today is Thursday, July 17, 2003. Again I'm going to write a little in advance. I'm gearing up for the Monterey Highland Games in Monterey, California in two weeks. I'm realizing that I'm pretty rusty on the first variation of "Lament for the Old Sword" since I haven't worked on that part of my piobaireachd much since October. I'm going to try a 2/4 March for the first time this year—about time! I've always been pretty bad at marching and playing simultaneously, but I think I've turned a corner and I've got it down enough to be respectable. I'll be playing "The Siege of Delhi" which is a medium difficulty tune as far as 2/4 marches go. I have work to do in spots—other parts sound great—but sounds decent overall. As far as the Slow March goes, I'm either going to have to use "Mist Covered Mountains" again (again!) or, preferably "Sleep, Dearie, Sleep" for which I've got a phrase with a messed up timing of a few notes but I may be able to work it out in the next 16 days. "Time's a-wastin'!"

Wednesday, July 30, 2003. Competition is three days away. A couple of us had a mini simulated competition today with our instructor, Jay Salter. Good news is that I got through the first variation of the piobaireachd with no problems. A slightly fast, but ok. But I went to the wrong note on the second line of the ground and lost where I was. Ack. Hopefully not in competition! I played Mist Covered Mountains for the slow march and concentrated on marching too much and completely lost the expression and messed up the tempo. Plus to top it off, I played the first part three times instead of two—like I said, concentrating on the wrong things! I just need to focus on the tune and I should do ok, like last year at Loch Lomond. We ran out of time for the 2/4 March, so that'll have be at Monterey. Here goes nothing!

Friday, August 1, 2003. Amazingly enough we had a second simulated competition this evening. Turns out I've been playing a phrase in my 2/4, that's repeated every part, incorrectly. Something I can't fix in 24 hours, so unfortunately, the 2/4 is out. Jay said I was also playing it too fast, though he also said I did surprisingly well on the embellishments for that tempo. The slow march went really well (axed the marching, not required in Grade IV), if I play as good as I did, I should place. In the piobaireachd, the ground went really great, but I zoned out and messed up a few notes in the variation, but the drones were steady and the tempo was good. Jay seemed to think I should place in at least one event, saying "you will not be denied." If I play as well as I can, I'll definitely place. Time for sleep!

Saturday, August 2, 2003.
Nice day today. Carpooled with Paul Llewellyn, a member of Santa Cruz Pipes & Drums. Started cool but humid. Christina A. (high school student, her first competition) and Kip Nead, both students of my instructor Jay Salter were there. Kip I'd met once before very briefly. Christina I'd met a few of times before including the simulated competitions.

My first event was at 8:48, the Slow March. As much as I wanted to use another tune, I stuck with Mist Covered Mountains.

Here's what was on my Slow Air WUSPBA Adjudication Sheet:

Contest Site: Monterey, Date: 8-2-03, Name: Andrew Lenz,
WUSPBA Registration Number: 791, Grade: IV, Event: Slow March #26
Tune: [blank]

Tone and tuning - Nice Drone Sound

Execution - Good fingers. Don't play the Low G so long on D throws.

Expression - Jumping off of beat notes. Tap you [sic] foot, this should help.

Tempos - Steady

Points Awarded: 63

Judge's Signature: <G. Davidson>

While I didn't place in this event and I have lots of work to do in figuring out solo marching—band is easier with a drum!—I was really pleased with the "nice drone sound" comment. I tuned my own drones for this event, so I can pat myself on the back. I missed a C-doubling and I'm surprised the judge didn't note it, but judges aren't perfect. I felt "not quite there" with the tempo and as a result it wasn't top material.

The Piobaireachd was scheduled at 10:38. I was a little worried about my lip, my mouth was a little dry but I found a faucet. Beforehand, I consciously made an effort to concentrate on the upcoming notes while playing the tune. I didn't want to just "get into the flow" and wander off the tune. Kip was up first, followed by Christina then me. (About ten pipers competed.) After I tuned myself up, I caught the end of Christina's performance. She played well, especially for her first time. As I waited a few minutes at the edge of "Platform 1" for the judge to finish writing up Christina's sheet, I thought to myself, "This one is for you, Grandpa." (The pipes I have belonged to my grandfather.) The judge looked up and it was time for "Lament for the Old Sword."

Here's what was on my official piobaireachd WUSPBA Adjudication Sheet:

Contest Site: Monterey, Date: 8-2-03, Name: Andrew Lenz,
WUSPBA Registration Number: 791, Grade: IV, Event: Piobaireachd #29
Tune: [blank]

Pipes very nice & steady
Well balanced & Held for performance,
Close High "A" & "G" very much in
tune—good job.

Good flow to ground and well played.

Execution good.

Need to watch Var. I G & E
grace notes could maybe be opened
a bit more. Also hold dotted notes
a bit more.

Very nice.

Points Awarded: 75

Judge's Signature: <Charles Lumsdon>

I felt I played very well, it felt solid with good expression. No mistakes. I stayed focused and I don't remember making eye contact with anyone during my performance, I spent most of the time watching the grass in front of my pacing feet. In the midst of the variation, I thought I should have been playing it a little slower, that was probably reflected in the "hold the dotted notes" comment. When talking to Kip after my performance, he said he had messed up a few notes in his ground, but just played on and finished up strong.

I hung out off and on with various pipers waiting for results. I met in-person Kevin MacHeffner, the WUSPBA webmaster, after communicating with him via e-mail for a year or two. Paul and I also met and chatted with Jim Harrington, the senior WUSPBA drum major adjudicator for a couple decades and massed bands coordinator for the Pleasanton Games.

I visited the registration booth and asked if the results were complete. The woman asked for my name, pulled out my sheet, smiled and said, "First place" then passed me the form. Needless to say, I was pretty darn happy! In shock, but delighted. The woman sitting next to her pulled out a gold medal and placed it in my hand.

My very first medal, "1st Place" Gold Medal, Piobaireachd, Grade IV.

Wow! All that practice paid off. Kip took second place, he did such a good job weaving in his error that the judge didn't take notice, he probably deserved a medal just for that.

When I got home I called my grandmother, who's in her mid-eighties and told her I'd won my piobaireachd competition. She told me my grandfather would have been proud. Then I remembered my "dedication" prior to the performance. She almost cried when I told her.

Oooh-kay. Whew. Onward and upward. I haven't registered for Pleasanton yet. But I need to get that done, especially since I just found out the official closing date was yesterday! Ack!

top of box
Kinnaird Bagpipes & Reeds - Play what the pros are playing

bottom of box