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Andrew's Competition #9 - October 5, 2002

Today is Thursday, September 26, 2002. I'm doing something a little different this time. I'm going to write a little beforehand. I'm preparing for the Loch Lomond Games in Ben Lomond, California next weekend which will be my first and only competition this year. I'm still getting down a new piobaireachd, "Lament for the Old Sword." The rules changed for 2002 requiring both "the ground and the first variation" and—according to the e-mail I got back from WUSPBA—the associated doublings of those parts. (The "ground" is the basic theme movement of a piobaireachd, usually about two minutes.) Old Sword only has a doubling of the first variation. I realized last night (first time playing the whole thing on the pipes), that I'm having a really hard time with saliva. I get part way through the first variation and start losing the seal on my blowpipe, blowing air and spit past it. I spent tonight replacing the plastic tubing I use on my mouthpiece and trying out a second shorter mouthpiece without tubing. We'll see if I can get this hammered out in 9 days!

Saturday, October 5, 2002.
Today started out sunny and cold in Ben Lomond (at least at 7:30 a.m. when I got there), but as the day wore on, it got quite warm—"man, I'm dyin', where is the shade?" warm. But the morning was pretty nice.

My first competition was around 10:30, the Slow Air. I decided to go with tune I was most comfortable with: Mist Covered Mountains. I'm starting to get bored with that one a bit. Maybe something different next year.

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

Contest Site: S.C., Date: 10-5-02, Name: Andrew Lenz,
WUSPBA Registration Number: [blank], Grade: [blank], Event: Slow Air
Tune: Mist Covered Mountains

Tone and tuning - Good

Execution - Occasional imperfection

Expression - Good

Tempos - Good

<From the main comment area>

Good Tune

Points Awarded: 55.2

Judge's Signature: <J McColl>

I suppose that the ".2" is there because he felt that I played a little better than someone else with another 55 point score. I placed 5th in this event, much better than I was expecting, considering how much trouble I was having with the tune in my lesson with Jay, but I had spent some time last night working on the tune with the sheet music and a metronome. And also marching out the tune about 45 minutes before on the practice chanter. It seemed to have helped. The "occasional imperfection" was a few closed embellishments, e.g., a slightly crashed grip, maybe a funky birl. Don't remember what and where exactly. [Note: About a month later, I found out that 14 pipers had competed, so fifth was a decent showing. The real point is to improve on a personal level, but it's still neat to do well.]

With the Piobaireachd, around 11:40 or so, things went fantastic and really bad. I didn't have any problem with drooling or blowing air past the blowpipe, which was great. My ground (urlar) felt really strong, and Jay said afterwards that the ground was played "brilliantly" and was the best I'd ever played it. My sense of playing it well was "confirmed" when Jim McColl stopped leaning over the table with pen poised and reclined back in his chair hands behind his head, a nice feeling! However, I lost my place later in the first variation, which has been a problem periodically the past week. I had just finished memorizing it all about two weeks ago, not enough time for me to get 100% "in your sleep" solid. Consequently, I hit a wrong note on the second line and realized that I had no idea where I had left myself in the first variation! I decided to drop into the third line and go from there. Jay said I played the first variation a hair too slow, but the variation doubling—while played correctly—was too fast if based on my tempo for the first variation. Jay said that if I hadn't messed up on the first variation, I would have easily placed in the top three. Nice to know anyway.

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

Contest Site: S.C., Date: 10-5-02, Name: Andrew Lenz,
WUSPBA Registration Number: [blank], Grade: [blank], Event: Piob
Tune: Lament Old Sword

Tone and tuning - Good at start

Execution - Good

Expression - "

Tempos - "

<From the main comment area>

Wrong note in Var I
went off Track Line 2.

Var I doubling—OK.

Good expression.
Couple errors.

Points Awarded: 53

Judge's Signature: <J McColl>

Nancy Fredrick (in the band) said that the ground was really steady blowing and sounded solid. Ah, well. It was an improvement anyway. My first time playing anything more than just the urlar in competition. Another student of Jay's, Al Gray, won the piobaireachd event, in his first ever competition. Lucky dog. [There were seven pipers competing in this event.]

Now that I've had my first and only taste of competition this year, I'm anxious to try again. So close. But now I've got to wait 6-9 months for the next one!

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