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Andrew's Competition #12 - October 4, 2003

Today is Sunday, September 28, 2003. The Loch Lomond Games are less than a week away. Santa Cruz Pipes & Drums is going to be the "house pipe band" for the games and will be playing often all day long on Saturday. It'll be an endurance test. It's a week away and I've just started learning a few overplayed (but good) tunes that we're going to have perform: Scotland the Brave, Highland Laddie, and Brown Haired Maiden. You may be asking how I got away with not knowing those common tunes by now, but our band never plays them—until now. So those of us in the band who didn't know them from a prior band experience or learned them on our own are doing some "cramming!" As for the solo competitions, I'll be competing in Piobaireachd and Slow March again. I'm feeling a little more confident with the variation, but time will tell if I can get my brain situated correctly. Number one priority for this week is band tunes, but that shouldn't really hurt my solo performances.

Saturday, October 4, 2003.

The Santa Cruz Pipes & Drums band tent, where I spent a big chunk of the day.

I was up at Highlands Park by about 8:30 for piping registration. Ken Miller, one of the members of Santa Cruz Pipes & Drums was co-chairing the competition, freeing up Jay Salter, our pipe major, to do—well—pipe majoring. Chuck Jamison, was on-site as the official WUSPBA representative, acting as chief steward. This was my first introduction with Chuck, he's a really nice fellow. Piobaireachd was the first event, which started a little after 10 a.m. Jay tuned up his students.

Here I am wandering about playing "Lament for the Old Sword" for the judge.

(Thanks to Gordon Munro for all the competition images.)

Close up of the action!

Here's a high-A fingering. Some would call this a "piobaireachd high-A," with the middle finger down, but it was also a traditional common garden variety high-A, though it's fallen out of practice for the most part these days except when playing piobaireachd.

This also happens to be the way I was taught to play all high-A notes. Sounds identical.

Here's what was on my Piobaireachd Adjudicator's Sheet:

Contest Site: Ben Lomond, Date: 10/4/03, Name: Andrew Lenz, WUSPBA Registration Number: 101 [This was, in fact, my kilt number.] Grade: 4, Event: Piob
Tune: Lament Old Sword

[The left side of the form:
Tone and Tuning: Quite Good.
Execution: Good.
Expression: "
Tempos: "
There are six lines indicating the lines of the tune. There's three places marked with "x" and labelled "chip." After the fourth line it says "Missing a line."]

Too bad you missed
the repeat 1st line Dithis.

Points Awarded: 54

Judge's Signature: <J. McColl>

Jim McColl perhaps wondering if I'll get the variation right before he retires.

Bummer. I came out of the first line of the first variation (this particular type of variation is called a "dithis") onto a High-A instead of back to a C, basically skipping the repeat of the first line. Once I hit that note, I knew immediately what I had done, but there's not a whole lot you can do when you make that kind of mistake but finish the tune. Unlike the Monterey Games where I felt the notes coming, I wasn't in that "zone" today, unfortunately. I had a number of folks comment on how good it sounded though. Alan Gray, who wasn't competing this year, but had taken first place last year, thought I "was robbed" when I didn't place, but considering how I didn't play the tune correctly (though with good execution and expression) I don't think I deserved to place. Jay thought I had turned a corner on the expression, said I would have placed if I hadn't messed up. Deja Vu. Jim McColl was talking to Jay and a few of us in the band later today (around 3:30 p.m. or so) and told me I played well but that I messed up in the same place in the tune as last year. (What a memory!)

The Slow March was held a little after 1 p.m. It felt all right, a few commented that it sounded good. I crushed one taorluath, I think it was on low-A, Jim caught it, of course, then again I was standing about a yard from his judging table playing, it'd be hard to miss!

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

Contest Site: Ben Lomond, Date: 10/4/03, Name: Lenz, Andrew,
WUSPBA Registration Number: 791, Grade: IV, Event: Slow March/402
Tune: Mist Covered Mtns

[The left side of the form:
Tone and Tuning: Quite Good.
Execution: Good.
Expression: "
Tempos: "
There are four lines indicating the lines of the tune. The second line is marked with "x" and labelled "chip."]

Nice Tune.

Points Awarded: 62

Judge's Signature: <J. McColl>

I wasn't expecting to place, there was some good—if small quantity—competition there, but I was awarded a third place. Better than a kick in the head!

Bronze Medal for third place in Slow March.

Zach Duncan of our band earned first place, he had a very good day, went home with three medals of assorted colors. (His mom was wearing them all on her blouse this afternoon! One proud momma.) Tom Jenkins, a really good friend of Alan Gray's, took silver medals in both the 2/4 march and the slow air.

I was hoping for a piobaireachd gold medal today, but alas. Feast or famine.

Welp, this year's competition season is over. I can say that this year was an improvement over last year. Two gold medals and a bronze. I've got at least 4-5 months before the next season starts. Time to start learning a new piobaireachd and a new slow march. And a 2/4 march.

Work, work, work!

One last note. The band did a "massed bands" with The Wicked Tinkers for the closing ceremonies. That was a BLAST! That was about the most fun I've had piping in a while. Aaron Shaw and his cohorts seemed to enjoy it as much as we did.

Sunday, October 5, 2003. Yesterday, right after my piobaireachd, Jay asked me what I was thinking of when I missed the repeat. I answered "I don't know." This morning, I woke up and realized what I was thinking at the time. I was thinking of the notes I was playing in the tune. It was a case of being so focused on the trees that you forget your direction in the forest.
The trick in the future will be, in a way, being "dual-minded." That is, being aware of the notes as well as where I am in the tune. Sounds obvious, and in a way it is. With light music (marches, reels, jigs), it's pretty easy. BUT, truth is, I believe it's more of being oblivious to the notes and focusing solely on the tune, in other words, "single-minded." Hmmm. Piobaireachd player's paradox. It's not uncommon for me to both simultaneously read the newspaper and play band tunes without making a mistake. The tune is that well memorized. Maybe I just need to get my piobaireachd to that point, where you just go on "autopilot"—although I've found in the past that it's very easy to wander off a piobaireachd while reading. I'll have to play around with the concept and see what happens.

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