Articles / Solo Comp Tips

 Solo Competition Tips

This list has been borrowed with permission from the Louisville Pipe Band website.

We thank the LPB for their permission to use this list, and hope that our visitors will take a trip over to their fine website.

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 minutes.
  • 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 tune.

    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


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