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Andrew Lenz's bagpipe journeyAndrew
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Andrew's Competition #8 - October 6, 2001

My eighth competition was held at the Loch Lomond Games in Ben Lomond, California. It was cold enough to wear a jacket most of the day, nice Scottish-style weather.

This was my first time where I was pulling double-duty competing solo and performing with the band, Santa Cruz Pipes & Drums. Worked out pretty well. The games were a grassroots event, in its sixth year, competition times were scheduled that morning and ran late, and a Grade IV Piobaireachd competition was added at the "last minute"—actually the week before—due to a high enough demand.

Here I am between piping demands with my 3-year-old daughter Charlotte.

Slow march competitions were first, followed by Piobaireachd a couple hours later.

As for my pipes, my high-A was so high that more than half that hole was covered with tape. Made it somewhat inconsistent. Fortunately, it was a little flatter than it had been previously so I was able to raise the tape enough that it wasn't growling.

Slow march went decently, I was fighting a strange "E" fingering that had snuck into my playing for some reason on a part of the tune, that is, the right pinky was down on the hole, also called a "closed E". While I believe I avoided playing it that way, the judge made a comment about false fingering. I wish he'd put down exactly what he noticed, perhaps he was merely noticing me playing high-A with "old-fashioned way" with the left middle finger down on the F hole vs. the ring finger down. I don't know. In any case, I was a little disappointed with my score, I was expecting a little higher. There wasn't a lot of competitors, maybe a dozen. [11, to be exact.]

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

Contest Site: Loch Lomond, Date: [blank], Name: A Lenz,
WUSPBA Registration Number: [blank], Grade: IV, Event: Slow Air
Tune: Sleep Dearie Sleep

<From the main comment area>

Chanter - need to keep up pressure, particularly on the top hand.

Drones - close at start. Drifted a touch by the end.

Basic movements need to be cleaner, and eliminate the false fingering.

Nice expression. A little closer attention to phrase beginnings & ends will improve the overall presentation.

Points Awarded: 46

Judge's Signature: <R. Boyd>

The Piobaireachd was a little odd in that I was the first one to sign up that morning, yet I was the first one to play. A little backward. Anyway, this competition performance was the first one where I was really happy with my playing. No problem with the reed, no chokes, the tuning sounded great—at least on low-A, no blowing air past the blowpipe, I held the notes I wanted to hold. I was pretty pleased. I had a couple spots where my blowing was slightly unsteady—I heard the drones out a bit twice—but this was the first time that I felt I played on par with my typical performance. Finally.

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

Contest Site: [blank], Date: [blank], Name: A. Lenz,
WUSPBA Registration Number: [blank], Grade: IV, Event: Piobroch
Tune: Too Long in This Condition

<From the main comment area>

Chanter - bright, but not blown out.

Drones - out at start & remained out.

Balance - fair.

Good expression - music unfolded nicely.
Need to concentrate on execution—the basic piobaireachd movements need to be clearer & more distinct.

Overall — good tune.

Points Awarded: 55

Judge's Signature: <R. Boyd>

I was surprised that I scored as low as I did. But I was pretty close to placing, as the 2nd place winner, young Alex Willingham, who's in our band, scored 61. I don't know what the 3rd place score was, but I had to have been within 5 points of placing third. There was six pipers in the event, four were students of my instructor, Jay Salter.

Sooo, off-season work will be to work on cleaning up embellishments, and working on steadying up my blowing—probably work with a manometer. We'll see. The band will keep me busy.

[Much later note: Comparing scores from event to event is pointless as each judge uses his or her own scale for points. A "60" could easily be a better performance than a "70" from another judge, for instance.]

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