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Individual Competition Tips: Mainly for pipers,
but drummers should read this too!
- Arrive in plenty of time and find the
piping and drumming registration tent.
- Ideally you will have registered in advance
-- if not expect to play first and plan accordingly regarding
warm up time.
- Remember that the lower grades start first
-- again arrive with time to spare.
- At the registration table (or shortly
thereafter) learn the approximate time, station, order
of play, judge and steward of your event. (Each event
will have a "steward." This person's job is
to make sure competitors are accounted for and ready to
go on.) Check in with this person before the event. The
Steward is usually carrying a clipboard.
- Find out who plays just ahead of you.
Watch that person and pace yourself accordingly.
- Do not overplay. Practice is what you
have been doing the past few months. On the day of the
competition you will lose far more than you can gain by
playing a lot before your event.
- Develop a 20 minute pre-competition routine
and make it part of your practice. Learn what happens
to your reeds as you warm up your instrument. Learn what
notes on your chanter need special attention after 20
- Get help tuning your drones if necessary.
Judges will not give you any extra credit for having tuned
them yourself anyway and if they are not perfectly in
tune expect to read about it on your scoresheet.
- Introduce yourself to the judge when called
- Walk to the station confidently. If you
do not look as if you believe you can win do not expect
the judge to surprise you.
- Make certain you can correctly pronounce
the name of the tune(s) you are to play. You will be asked.
- Write the name of your tune(s) on a card
and keep it in your sporran. You will look less silly
consulting the card if you blank on the name than if you
have to blubber about not remembering. The judge may just
think you are making a last minute decision between several
tunes in your repertoire (if you are real lucky).
- Take off your sunglasses and put on your
bonnet before you approach the platform.
- During the performance, never turn your
back on the judge. Learn to walk a figure-8 for piobaireachd
performances and on marches make your turn so that you
do not turn your back to the judge. Do not give the judge
a clear shot at your drones.
- Small-talk with the judge if initiated
by the judge.
- Plan to do some fine tuning of your drones
before starting into your tunes and do not cut off after
this final tuning. Plan to go from your final tuning directly
into the tune as for unexplained reasons your tuning will
not be as good if you cut-off in between.
After completing the competition piece,
do not do a “pipe band” style cut-off on
the last note of the tune. Instead, play full and solid
through the end of the tune and then finish with a short
bit of a tuning phrase. Cut-off nicely from the tuning
phrase. The judging stops at the end of the tune. You
will not be judged for anything after that, and tone
and blowing will not suffer in the final bars of your
These are by no means complete as books
could be written on the subject. These are tips however
that have been collected from workshops and experience
over time. Please feel free to submit pointers you have
discovered for further articles on this subject and
good luck with the judges.
Copyright LPB, 1997