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Andrew Lenz's bagpipe journeyAndrew
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Andrew's Competition #7 - Aug. 31, 2001 & Sept. 1, 2001

Day 1 - August 31, 2001.

It's been a summer of ups and downs. I was less than 10 points out of placing in Monterey in the Slow March, so it wasn't quite as bad as I thought.

The first day of my seventh competition was at the Pleasanton Games on Friday, August 31, 2001. Eric Seib, Nancy Fredrick (fellow members of Santa Cruz Pipes & Drums) and I drove up and arrived at the Alameda County Fairgrounds in Pleasanton at about 11:45 a.m. Weather wasn't too bad: patchy clouds, no breeze, though it got hotter as the day drew on. I competed at 1:00 p.m.

Early on, I walked over to the Grade IV Piobaireach platform and spent a few minutes kicking all the golf ball sized seed pods out of the walking area—I'd been through that once before! I decided to go with my sharper pitched set-up Naill chanter with an older reed instead of my band-issue poly Shepherd after the comments I received about my chanter being flat. Eric and I tuned me up just before the competition, it was almost impossible to find a place where you weren't within 20 feet of another piper. We were just finishing tuning when the steward walked over and told us the judge was ready.

I walked over, gave the judge a nod and went into the second line of the tune! After about two seconds, I paused on on the note, and then started over with the first line. Funny thing is, he didn't note that, but he ripped everything else to pieces. Eric, who has placed before, got raked over the coals too. And I don't think we were alone.

Here's what was on my Piobaireachd Adjudication Sheet (not standard WUSPBA):

8/31/01, Event #1, Place: Pleasanton, Class: GR IV, Competitor: Andrew Lenz #806,
Tune: [blank, it was "Too Long in this Condition] Adjudicator: George Summers [Maybe Summons?]

<on the left under "Instrument">

Drones not settled. Poor chanter quality.

<on the right under "Performance">

Careless finger technique. Poor tonal quality to pipe. Play lacking flow and clarity. Unsteady blowing.

<at the bottom on the right was written "12">

So that's it. Rather vague in the first two statements. I wish he had been more specific. Toarluaths? Daré? And what exactly made for the "poor tonal quality?" I can't correct what I don't know. Anyway, I pretty sure the "12" was twelveth place, might have been last, I don't think there were that many more pipers competing! [Much later note: there were 13 competitors.]

Day 2 - September 1, 2001.

I drove back to Pleasanton the next morning, Saturday, September 1, 2001 and arrived about 7:50 a.m. I was to compete in Slow March at 8:50 a.m. for the second day of competition.

I felt pretty confident going into the event, embellishments were clean and tight, fingers warm. My right wrist which had been aching the night before, wasn't hurting. (Friday evening, the night before, Santa Cruz Pipes & Drums performed in downtown Santa Cruz to greet the crowd outside the Civic Auditorium waiting for a celtic fiddling concert—made for a long piping day!) I told the judge my piece and took a minute to check the drone tuning (no friends around to help tune) and it sounded pretty good to me, though it seemed that the chanter High-A was off, but I wasn't about to mess with it then. (Later I noticed a competing piper almost completely retaping his whole chanter in front of the judge during a seemingly lengthy warm-up period!) I gave him a nod, marched off, played through the first part and off my fingers went into the second part without the repeat of the first part! At that point, I was doomed. I just repeated the second part and finished. Gave the judge a sheepish smile, shrugged and that was that.

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

Contest Site: Pleasanton Date: 9/1/01, Name: 806 Andrew Lenz
WUSPBA Registration Number: [blank], Grade: IV, Event: Slow March 21+
Tune: Mist Covered Mountains

<"Tone and Tuning:>

5 Chanter dull. Drones flat. Blowing unsteady.


10 Failed to repeat 1st part.


24 Seemed a "struggle" as you may have attempted too many things at one time.


6 Unsteady. I suggest not attempting to slow march while playing next time.

Points Awarded: 45

Judge's Signature: <John Partanen>

Not the greatest weekend in my piping life. The competition jinx continues. I suppose I should break down and follow more of my own competition advice. I'm not sure where my steady blowing went. Now I need to work on that also, no lip to blame this time, mouth was fine. Loch Lomond Games first weekend in October, one month to get ready.

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