Sunday, October 26, 2008

Seventh Competition Richmond Third and Fourth Place

A very wet Richmond Highland and Scottish Games. Great Scottish weather which I experienced many times on a motorcycle many moons ago. I drove in early and found the venue with a few miles wasted after missing the intersection. I had to wait for cancellations and no shows because my application was late, I did not know the games was approaching fast, right.

First event, piobaireachd. The " the Little Spree " was played well in Williamsburg, first place. I had the confidence to do well again, phrasings are where they are, the embellishments edres and otros sound with a bold Low G and equal, phrase endings have heavy emphasis before going to the next. Everything went well until the second line when I thought that I sounded flat on F, now if one has not experienced this, namely moi, the tendency is to squeeze and blow harder to make it sharp. Disaster, one should leave it alone, although my playing was not altered the bass drone shut off, I continued to play my best without it. The judge told me, too bad about the bass drone, you were playing well. Off I went after thanking the judge.

To be cont.......

Monday, October 6, 2008

Sixth Competition First Place Piobaireachd

The Williamsburg Scottish Festival was a nice surprise. The venue was very nice, the judge's tents were about 30 feet from the water where a dam is located. All in the shade, so I warmed up under a tree. My first event was the piobaireachd ground, I have spent time with the "The Little Spree" with my teacher and countless hours practicing the "otros" and "edres", phrasings, bar endings, line endings, not to mention the last line of the ground, which needed a mature understanding. Although it took a long time to put it together confidently, playing it with correct phrasings, pausing at the end of each bar and holding longer at the end of the lines made the tune better from last year's second place. The tune was played slower, and the judge noted it, the phrase endings did get the time it needed to announce the beginning of the next phrase. The F was emphasized, the edres and otros were a lot cleaner with the Low G

sounding big. cont......

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Chanter and Drone Reeds Setup

I have played with the Troy chanter reed for two months. I have shaved and sanded to get it to my strength. It is slightly harder than my average reeds. I have to adjust my tape on the F to get it right since it was slightly sharp. I think on my paricular MacLellan chanter, the Troy is a perfect match, and it plays well with the Kinnairds for solo work.

The drone reeds had to be adjusted to accumodate the harder chanter reed. It takes time to properly match them again. Once properly matched, the sound of the whole pipe is beautiful and play as one instrument.

I have the itch to play the Apps base cane drone again. I thought it had a supherb full deep sound. I will carry the Apps cane drone and chanter reeds in the Piper of Dunguncreek in the near future. I find the drone reeds in the Dunbar needing a drone extender in my case to get to uptimum drone adjustment, which is close to the hemp line.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Fifth Competition

The fifth competition was in McHenry Highland Festival of Mountain Maryland, a three hour trip. Left at 5:45 am with my two kids and their friend. Foggy trip in the mountains, but we made it in good time.

I was scheduled to play at 10:15 am, so I had 45 minutes of warm up time. I gave the kids money so they can go around for 30 minutes. I warmed up at the field, the weather was nice high 80's with a little humidity. The venue was nice, the judges were set up around the barns.

Once the judge, Vic Franks gave me the nod, I approached, gave a salute and told him my tune. My tune, "Prince Charles Welcome to Lochaber" for 2/4 March. Since my pipes were warmed up, after a minute of fine tuning, it locked in. Off I went, my choice of marching route was not the best, a small dip on the judges left side. It went well, on the fourth line, my chanter cut out for a second. I recovered and continued until I stepped on the dip on the ground, now this rattled me a little, when I faced the judge to finish the tune, the last three noted vacated my brain, played the two notes again and decided to tell the judge,"not today judge". His reply was, " that is too bad". I thought I was doing well, very disappointed.

I thought about the things that I did. So, after an hour, I was ready to move on. I waited for my results to see what things that needs to be improved.

A couple of items that I need to write down in a 3X5 paper.

Warm up thoroughly
Disconnect the hose leading to the chanter. For very hot days, I think the cannister will deliver less moisture to the reed(maybe the cause of the cut off).
Plan where to march, the most level ground possible

We went around after changing and checked out the stage. We did not have time to see Bonnie Rideout but manage to see the band before her. The kid's insisted to buy a Father's Day gift for me.

We had a long trip back and had an hour before going to a friend's daughter's 16th birthday. I was going to play the pipes in highland attire before dinner. Long day.

After talking with my teacher, she reminded me that the breakdown will not be the last. We talked about this a year ago, but never thought about it until it happened.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Fourth Competition Southern MD First Place 2/4 March

The fourth competition was in The Celtic Society of Southern Maryland located at the Jefferson Patterson Park. Running late was one thing, but being detoured because of a fire which closed the road to the event was worrisome. I made it at 9am, the start of of the solo competition. After walking passed the registration booth once, finally made it there and found the times for 2/4 March and Piobaireachd.

I set up my folding chair and put the pipes together for warm up and tuning. The steward for the 2/4 March found me and gave me the time. I was two competitors behind. I had plenty of time to tune, the weather was hot but the pipes were tuning very well. I found that wearing the ear plug helped me in drowning the other pipers around me so I can lock in the drones to the chanter. the Troy in the MacLellan chanter was played in the same venue in my first ever competition, it is a little over a year old.

My first event was piobaireachd, "The Marquis of Argyll Salute". The tune was not ready, I had plenty of time to think about not playing it when I went in the long detour due to a fire. I had this feeling and decided to play "The Little Spree" instead of the "Marquis..", but when I was warming up my confidence was back. It was a mistake to play it, I ended up playing it safely and everything went south.

I did not place and the judge, John Bottomly, wrote that "the tune was cautiously approached to a bold tune". Other glitches on notes not being held. Drones were excellent but the chanter was a little thin.

After half an hour, the steward came and informed me that it was my turn. She was a student of Marsha as well. I approached the judge, Joyce McIntosh and told her my tune. After a brief warm up, off I went to play "Prince Charles Welcome to Lochaber". The drones were steady and only a crushed B doubling on the third line. The chanter was thin, second time. I was confident on the tune and everything went well in my opinion. First place out of 13 competitors. She wrote that I was being taught well. Since they were not ready with the medals I went to see my band. I was asked by the P/M to play with at the Massed Bands, but I left my pipes in the car, so I filmed instead.

After filming the band compete, I left for home. The band came in Second Place.

Things that needs to be done. New reed for the chanter since it was sounding thin. "The Little Spree" will have to come back for now. Playing steady throughout and flawless in the the embellishments will definitely elevate the scores. I will have to refocus practice and write down the priorities. Next competition is in June 7 at McHenry Maryland.

Started a piping business, Piper of Dunguncreek. I hope to grow in piping and the business.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

2007 Competition Results Grade lV Sr.

Here are the Competition Results for 2007, I made three of the five EUSPBA sanctioned Games in 2007 that I registered. In Grade IV Sr. 2/4 March, placed 93rd out of 213 registered competitors with a First Place in Richmond. And Grade IV Sr. Piobaireachd, 86th out of 147 competitors with a Second Place in Williamsburg. Although, only the top six are awarded points, my score sheet in Southern Maryland had an 8th place(don't know why), two places down from getting any points . This was my first competition, I did not enter the piobaireachd.
I will have to play the tunes in competition form the day before the games. Tunes should be played a few times and address any issues. Besides Southern Maryland Games, I did not play my pipes the day before the games and it showed in the results.

The phrasing in piobaireachd is very important, I sing the tune while playing rather than going on auto-pilot which results in lack of expression. The same applies to the 2/4 March, once the technical issues are addressed, expression will bring the tune out. What does expression means? The notes are held in full value, some all the way to the edge of the note value. The expression used by my teacher is,"if you think you are wrong in holding the note, you are probably right". Again, she is correct, holds and cuts are extreme without sacrificing the 16th notes(cut) so the next embellished notes, doublings, grace, throws etc. are on the beat. Tempo should be even throughout. The phrase endings and beginnings should be distinguished, like reading, a period ends the sentence with a pause and moves on to start another one.

We have decided to continue "Prince Charles Welcome to Lochaber" for the 2/4 March. The "Siege of Delhi" still has technical issues and will not be ready till the end of the year or nextyear. For piobaireachd, a new tune, "The Marquis of Argyll's Salute". I like this tune a lot, lots of difficult embellishments but very inspiring. The "The Little Spree" will be my alternate tune from last year, although, I would not mind playing it again and see if it places higher than second place.

The first competition for 2008 will be on the 26th of April at the Southern Maryland Games. This this will be quite exciting, many pipers competed last year. My band will be competing in the afternoon. Our new cat which was raised a kitten loves the practice chanter and the pipes. He still tries why the pc makes a sound and stays close when playing the pipes.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Third competition in Richmond First Place 2/4 March

My third competition was in Richmond Highland Games and Festival Richmond Virginia. My wife's aunt was visiting from Oregon so we all met in Richmond at my sister-in-law's house. All the families came, there was a big chance of the rain continuing on Saturday. Pipers Hut rushed me my Mr. Anthony Band Spec Cape since the forecast was heavy rain. After Williamsburg, my decision to spend time on the 2/4 march was paying off, the missing 16th notes are now played in their full value and not rushed.

Woke up late so we had to hurry, after registering, I had 15 minutes till my turn on the boards. I went to my band's tent to get the pipes ready and my Pipe Major who was also competing offered to help in tuning. I thanked him and off I went to warm up. I could have used his help in tuning but in the rush I decided to do it alone. Coming late is taking it's toll on my concentration, and since my pipes which needs a decent 30 minute warm up, will have to do in 10 minutes.

Note to self, if one is not ready, do not accept an offer by the steward of stepping up when the competitor who is in front of you is not ready. My pipes did not settle at all when I played my piobaireachd "The Little Spree". The rushing and pipes not ready destroyed any chance of getting a good expression on the tune. I clipped the long notes so my chances was nil.

My number for the 2/4 march, third in line. I had 20 minutes to warm up. By now my pipes sounds solid, alas, number two was not ready, can I be ready to go(steward came, since I was the sucker the last time, seem to be the trend now, get that guy). Yep, I'm ready. After telling Chris Hamilton my tune, I turned and played Sou Gan to tune, it was in tune and immediately turned and off I went with "Prince Charles Welcome to Lochaber". I felt very good after I finished playing.

I took the kids for snacks, cold fish and chips and soda. Not the best meal but I was very hungry. I stopped by the Henderson Imports booth where Chris Apps was and bought a solo reed. Chatted with him awhile about having softer reeds and how it improved techniques and overall playing. As usual, he was a great source of info, I always leave with a better understanding of the reeds.

I returned to the main booth to check my results, my P/M was there to check his results as well. I was surprised to find my 2/4 march awarded first place. That felt good, it took a while to get the glitches out. My P/M won four medals, excellent. I went back to the tent and talked to my teacher and band members, as the rookie, it will be a while before before I compete with them. We had to leave for Williamsburg so I wished them luck and bid them farewell.

Lesson learned, I will have to be diligent in giving myself time to get to the games early so I can get myself and the pipes settled. The tunes needs to be played the day before the competition. Pipes needs to be inspected night before every competition for any loose drone reeds, loose joints etc. The pipes have to settle to lock in and warming up prior to competing is essential.