This winter season I decided to compete in local solo piping competitions called Knock Outs. There have been two so far and in the 40+ category I have come first place both times...okay, I was the only 40+ competitor. :o) The first event which was held in November I had to play a Slow Air followed by a 4-parted 6/8 march. I chose the tunes "Fair Jean" followed by "George Beley". I practiced a lot and was nervous playing in front of my peers as well as some pretty advanced players. luckily I got to go first so I got it over with. My play went well and I didn't make any note errors. Technique is the big challenge for beginning pipers as well as timing. Steady blowing is always a concern at my level as well. Had there been other 40+ pipers in the event and I had come last it would not have mattered as it's not about the placing so much as it is about the experience and the score sheet you get from the judge afterwards. The score sheets are very detailed and, from the good judges, very constructive. When you practice tunes over and over you know what your weak areas are so the score sheets usually don't contain too many surprises but every judge is different and they have different things they notice in any given tune. I was pleased with my first Knock Out experience.
The second Knock Out for 40+ was held on January 9th and I was to play a 4-parted 2/4 march. I chose the "Haughs of Cromdale". I was a bit rusty as I was away on vacation over the Christmas break and had very little opportunity to practice. I had just 1 week to knock the rust off the tune. Again, I didn't make any glaring errors but I know I could have played better. Nerves get to you when playing in front of people. I finished first again as I was the only 40+ competitor. It's a bit of a hollow victory but it's all about getting experience playing under pressure.
The finals for the Knock Outs are in March and I have to play a Medley. I have chosen "Jack's Welcome Home", "Skye Boat Song" and "Lochanside". I am looking forward to it however the audience will be about 4 times as large at least. The nerves will be running high that evening but with no other 40+ competitors who have qualified I just need to get through the Medley without being disqualified. Fingers crossed on that.
Here is a link to the brief write up about the Knock Out on the PPBSO website including a photo of the top 6 B grade pipers from the January Knock Out and myself on the right.