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Andrew's Competition #19 - August 6, 2005

Saturday, August 6, 2005.

I haven't typed anything beforehand as I've been trying to reduce computer time. My hands and wrists have been aching for the last few weeks—one morning I woke up with my right index and middle fingers abnormally tingling for a few hours. As a result my piping practice has been minimal. I've only been on the pipes maybe 4-5 times in the last three weeks and practice chanter time has been limited to a few minutes at a time. Truth is, I probably shouldn't be typing this!

I was up at 6:45 a.m. and out the door at 7:30. I arrived around 8:30, and the weather was nice down in Monterey, clouds here and there which were a blessing, as it can get rather hot some days. It was still pretty warm regardless and I'd forgotten sunscreen! I was a little pinker by the end of the day.

The registration tent at 9:08 a.m.

Tom Jenkins, Paul Llewellyn, Mike Lindelsee, Kip Morais (and group) were all there, along with other "regulars." The organizers didn't tell us in advance when we were to play, just that registration began at 8:30, so we were all there really early. I checked in—the registration woman said she'd visited my website—and was provided a kilt number (288) and my times: 10:36 for the 2/4 March and 10:42 for the Slow March. I warmed up a bit about an hour in advance. My chanter seemed to choke easier than normal—perhaps an effect of little recent use—so I had to blow a little harder. I helped Mike tune up a bit early on with the intention of retuning him prior to his event. I tuned up again, about 20 minutes before my first event, then again a few minutes before. My fingers didn't feel quite 100% like normal, a slight bit on the "clunky" side. While I was hoping to do well, my expectations for the day were low given the state of my hands.

The 2/4 March.

The judge for the 2/4 was to be Scott MacDonald, the former pipe major of the L.A. Scots, for whom I played my 2/4 last year at Monterey.

Tuning up for the 2/4 March as Scott MacDonald waits.

I tuned up and it sounded pretty good, so I turned to the judge and began the tune.

Playing away. Scott's probably writing something about overblowing at that moment.

Playing through the tune, I realized it was still a touch faster than I wanted, but not bad, I realized I should be holding the low-A still longer, in the third part I couldn't remember if I'd played the repeat of the part yet! I played it again, and as there was no comment later, I must have done it correctly. I got into the fourth part and somehow messed up around the end of the first line. I was thinking too much about the execution of one bar and not focusing enough on the musicality of the tune, I guess. Drat.

My 2/4 March WUSPBA Adjudication Sheet:

Contest Site: Monterey, Date: 8-6-5, Name: Andrew Lenz,
WUSPBA Registration Number: 791, Grade: IV, Event: 2/4 March
Tune: Seige of Delhi

1/-- Grip to C not solid @ start
Slightly overblowing High "A" Relax

2/-- Playing better here
Work on not overblowing High "A"
Also makes drones sound out—

3/-- Burls - Not always clean

4/-- Slip—

Playing well overall—
Work on blowing top hand

Points Awarded: 68

Judge's Signature: <Scott MacDonald>

Scott called me over and told me basically what he was going to write on the sheet, that is, overblowing on the top hand which also affected the drones tuning with the chanter, bad grip in the first line (but fine after that one), birls not consistent. I think the overblowing may have been subconscious effort to keep the reed from choking. While I still get a touch nervous—heck, gold medal pipers get nervous—it's not like what it used to be, though that might affect blowing a bit too.

Paul said I sounded a bit tentative with my playing and that it wasn't quite as well as I'd played in the past. One of these days, I'll manage to record myself while competing.

The Slow March.

The judge for the Slow March was PM Sandy Keith, a well known piper and instructor from Florida. I offered to do a final touch up drone tuning for Mike, who was to play immediately before me, but he said they were good. When he was done, I tuned up and started the tune with the drones suddenly out. (Changed blowing pressure. I'll have to play a little bit of a real tune in the future to check the pressure vs. tuning.) I played the tune reasonably well, though the double C was a little overlapping. I had tried to clear that up in my warm up earlier, but to no avail.

Tom Jenkins at work:
"Look Sandy. Forget what the other pipers promised. I'll give you three beers AND a 100-year-old whiskey in exchange for first place."

Seriously though, here's Tom just about to play for Sandy Keith. Tom played about 10-15 minutes after I did.

My Slow March WUSPBA Adjudication Sheet:

Contest Site: Monterey, Date: 8-6-5, Name: Andrew Lenz,
WUSPBA Registration Number: 791, Grade: IV, Event: Slow March
Tune: Heaken My Love

Tone and Tuning
Drones out from start —Top hand overblowing.

Double C from D —lift 'G' gracenote higher

Good flow but don't let embellishments rob
the continuity


Finger Technique 'C'
Gracenotes Lift higher

Points Awarded: 66

Judge's Signature: <A. Keith>

Sandy called me over and told me that aside from overblowing, I was hitting the C (from D) before cleanly finishing the G gracenote of the doubling—that I need to lift the G finger higher. Also that my drones were out—no surprise there! That was dead obvious, unfortunately.

Score sheet in hand, Paul Llewellyn double-checks the board for standings.

I had a few of pipers say hello, one was Becky, who I met at Pleasanton a year ago. She wasn't sure if I was going to be in Monterey or not, as I didn't have any advance notice on my site—my hands were keeping me off the computer. "Bob" from the MacIntosh Pipe Band commented that he used my bag measurements page for helping his bandmates pick new bags. Another was Jennifer F., who said my competition tips page was a big help when she first started competing a couple of years ago—she's doing well, she took a 1st and 3rd in her leets. Tom took 4th in the 2/4—and he was wondering why the judge just said "nice job" and didn't call him over like most of the other pipers! Paul got a bronze medal for taking 3rd in his slow march leet and moved on to the playoffs with the rest of the final six.

I have to say I'm in a bit of a quandry. Or at least a bit frustrated. I've been coasting a bit, necessarily so in the few weeks due to my wrists/hands, but right now, I want to leap heavily into practicing—but I can't. I have to wait for my body to heal. Grrrr, frustrating. Earlier though, I have to accept responsibility for not taking advantage of the time I did have. Jay Salter, my instructor, had a questioned me a couple times in the last few months which when something like this:

Jay: "So, are you listening to the recordings [competition tunes] every day?"
Andrew: "Ummm. No."
Jay: "You know, when I was competing, I'd listen to my recordings of Jimmy [McColl] every day. Are you recording yourself at least once a week?"
Andrew: "Ah . . . no."
Jay: "Are you playing with a metronome?"
Andrew: "Ummm. Not very often."

Coasting. We did record myself at a lesson a few weeks ago and it was an eye-opener. It was obvious what the judges were hearing.

Ok, I have to stop (I typed this in two sessions), my wrists are really bugging me. Best case, I'm 100% in a week and start preparing in earnest. I'm thinking it'll probably be weeks though. Sigh. We'll see what the future holds . . .

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