It’s pretty late already tonight – too late for my next kitchen post since I still need to grind some wheat to have flour soaking for naan tomorrow – so I am just catching up on a musical happening I neglected to really describe last week. 🙂 I don’t have much to show you from the concert – just a picture of our band and then one video my dad took – but I thought for posterity’s sake, I should at least touch on last weekend’s Piping activities. 🙂
In the morning I had my first “solo competition” on the bagpipes – something a lot of pipers start doing when they’re 13 or 14 years old but that many don’t do until they’re old like me. 🙂 Why would I want to “compete” with other people on the bagpipes, you may ask? Always sounded a bit silly to me when I first started playing the bagpipes 6 years ago, because I only play for my own enjoyment and the enjoyment of others. But, and this is a BIG “but,” poor piping is not fun for anyone within range – either the piper or the audience! Improving over time in order to play more challenging and appealing tunes was always a goal of mine, as well as becoming a good enough piper to play confidently with any band I might find in my area (ie I don’t want to be kept from playing with a local band because I am not able to keep up), so things that help me improve are always welcome. Taking part in the solo competitions is one of those “tools” aiding me in becoming a better piper, and I truly am thankful to be in an area where competing is a relatively simple endeavor (many Highland Games within driving distance.)
The other reason to compete is so you can be given an overall “rating.” This would be helpful to me so that each time I move to a new area and the dude in charge of the band asks, “What level piper are you?” I can reply with “I am a Grade IV Piper” or the like. Grade IV is the bottom level where I am starting out, and then by the end of the season if I accumulate enough points from contests, I can be promoted to Grade III. I have no hopes of making it past that really and am just currently aspiring to being promoted up to Grade III at the end of the season in October. If I never make it to another grade as long as I live, that will be fine with me, but being able to call myself a “Grade III” piper will communicate to others in the piping community that I am not a beginner, can play a tune and keep a beat, and that I pretty much know what I’m doing. It will mean I am competent, which translates to no longer feeling like I need to “prove” myself to each new band.
Last weekend we competed in the “Charleston Indoor Games” at The Citadel, and I played poorly. I was extremely nervous, which is humbling at the ripe old age of 36 when you kind of feel like nothing intimidates you. Graduating from the Naval Academy, driving a Destroyer, running the Nuclear Power plant on an aircraft carrier, then having six babies, finally figuring out how to bake a decent loaf of whole wheat bread, running a marathon, playing with a rock band, and moving the family all over the world (usually without the help of a husband – but he was around for the move back from the UK which was AWESOME!) — you know, these things tend to puff me up a bit, make me feel invincible. But there’s something about that judge staring at you, intently scribbling indecipherable notes on the grading sheet, that really rattles the soul. Bring on the screaming baby while the wheat grinder whirs and I handle sibling squabbles. Tell me I need to get medical and dental checks, have the house packed out, ship the dogs, and get passports for 5 kids or move across the world with 6. Put me on a plane alone with 5 children ages 7 down to 6 months for 8 hours – twice. Fly that same group halfway to Guam to surprise the unsuspecting Papa and then turn the plane around 3 hours into the flight with a mechanical problem somewhere over the Pacific Ocean (okay – that one did cause me to have a short mid-air breakdown.) No big deal!! Have me play a 2/4 March while walking back and forth doing little turns as someone stares me down tapping his foot at a random speed (sure to be different than the pace I’m currently playing) and I melt into a pool of inadequate piper-jibberish, the calm, cool, and collected ice-woman no more. Hahaha – it wasn’t really THAT bad, but it was uncomfortable, disconcerting, and unnerving, and that was just while I was tuning up my pipes to play!! So without further ado, here’s a short clip of my competition tunes….just kidding. That will forever remain a secret, since there’s no reason for me to go around exhibiting my inadequacies to the world (Hey – I already showed you pictures of my train-wreck of a kitchen – I must dole out the humble pie to myself in small servings!) That was first thing Saturday morning, early enough that my dad and I were able to meet the family at the rock climbing wall where my little man Daniel quickly cheered me up and set my perspective back to rights. Piping contest what? Huh? Change my diaper and then feed me, Mama. I can handle that one!
After the rock climbing we all returned home for sandwiches and naps and then BAM! It was time for my dad and me to head out for the concert being held that night at The Citadel – put on by our band as a fundraiser for the pipe band from The Citadel to go to some Military Tattoo in Canada.
Long story short – the concert was a success and enjoyable to all in attendance. My dad took a bit of video on my iphone from our first number, but I really would love to link you to our version of “Steam Train” which is not yet up on the internet. I guess I will stick it in a separate post on some future date, but for now “Dawning of the Day” – arranged by our pipe major:
Afterwards, we finally took a band photo, which is comprised of our Grade IV and Grade V bands (we played both separately and together at the concert.)
I will go to my next solo competition in April, armed with a 6/8 March dusted off from my band in the UK and a better attitude. I’m here to have fun, right? No more high expectations and nerves (we’ll see about that…) since this is something I enjoy doing. And perhaps I will even post a video as proof of my new-found ability to confidently play a tune in front of a judge. We shall see!