Thursday, May 21, 2009

Has the culling begun?

Our first band practice with the group formerly known as the Grade III band went surprisingly well. The PM was in good humor which made the experience rather fun.

Still, I was a bit suspicious and was withholding my final judgement until I heard the whole thing out. I suspected that at some point during the practice a hint would be dropped that would suggest the culling of the herd would begin. I was wrong ... it wasn't a hint, it was actually said in a very straight forward manner, and in fact (at least from my perspective) the cuts have begun. Let me explain.

We have had two new pipers coming out to our Grade IV practices - Karen and Dan. I've been very impressed with both of them. They seem to be playing very well, so it was no surprise to me that they were voted into the band last night. However, there was a caveat to their entry into the band - they were cut from competition.

My feeling is that this was a bit unfair. Had the Grade III not lost their ability to compete, Karen and Dan would be welcome members of the Grade IV competition band and would have competed in June. NOW however, that has changed.

The PM made it quite clear that if a piper wasn't up to par (and that likely means playing to Grade III standards) they will be cut from competition as well.

Is this good? I really got into piping because I love the sound of the pipes and I love to play them and to draw out the emotion that they instill in me and others. I really never even considered competition as a part of that until I joined the band and found out that pipe bands and solo pipers actually compete. Now that seems to be the focus. I have to force myself to step back from time to time and remember that playing the bagpipes isn't a sport - it's an art.

Should Karen and Dan have been cut from competition? If they were good enough to compete in Grade IV before the big change then they are good enough to play with us now ... end of story.


Mike (AKA Pops) said...

The purpose of playing th ePipes is to make music, a most artistic endevor. The purpose of competition is simply to "win". Seems a little empty by comparison.

Granpiper said...

Well said Mike. I think we lose sight of that too often.