Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Utah Scottish Festival - the pain and the glory

So the time arrived for the first competition of the season with it's anxiety and stresses. The weather was a factor; but it was what one might expect at a "Scottish" festival - overcast with occasional downpours.

Teagan and I had run through our solos the night before and felt fairly prepared ... not! He had been practicing and I had been practicing, but we hadn't done so together much so there existed the potential for disaster. Especially for me because I have a tough time staying focused when I play with someone else.

We got to Thanksgiving Point (location for the blessed event) and my wife dropped my son and I off so we could go in while she found a parking space. We located the band tents and I pulled out my pipes to warm up.

They sounded pretty good. I messed with them a bit and ran through parts of my solos and the solo tunes for my son. I probably should have run through them all the way, but I was feeling a bit too confident.

My wife had trouble getting in the gate because they weren't going to open until 9:00 and she was afraid she'd miss my son's first solo. She wouldn't, but she was upset and had to let all the volunteers and everyone else she ran into know about it. That got me a bit stressed right before we were to go on.

My son and I went over to the solo competition area and wound up waiting quite a while because the drum judge was late showing up and threw the schedule off. As I watched the time tick away, I decided to head over to my solo station and let the judge know I'd be late. When I got there he said,"You're up" and so without much mental prep I was up!

I always like to have a few minutes to mentally prepare, but I had none. Again, being a bit too confident I jumped right in. My drones were a bit sharp (not too bad, but the judge noticed). I was a bit sloppy to start and when I went into the second part I got my son's solo mixed up with mine and screwed up the first measure. I recovered, but by then I was flustered and going into the third part my tenor drone cut off. I finished strong, but by then the damage was certainly done. The judge was kind in his comments - I'm sure he knew that I knew I was toast.

I then went back to where my son had his first solo (2/4 march) and we were on immediately. I was so flustered by my own solo that I messed up the second part of his solo. Fortunately I didn't completely break down, and he played strongly, but I can't help but feel bad.

His second solo was a 6/8 march which he hadn't memorized. The judge had told me that he didn't think there was a rule against playing with the music, so we were good to go. Unfortunately my son had left his music back at the band tent, and had to go back and get it. Typical of a 14 year old he walked there and back even though he was supposed to be on next. By the time he made it back the steward was ready to DQ him and I was again off my mental mark. I totally trashed the second part and for the first time ever I broke down and couldn't finish. My son did finish, fortunately, but I didn't help him at all in his competitions.

I now had a fairly long wait until I would be up for my slow march. I took the time to get my head back in the game and remind myself that I was a decent piper and could place in this competition if I played like I was capable of. I also had two tunes prepared and had some time to play through them to decide which I wanted to play. That was a blessing because I really had a good feeling about the one versus the other and that made the decision easier and my ability to play it more confident.

When the time arrived for my slow march solo I was ready to go for it and I was excited about playing it. No fear or anxiety at all.

I had heard the competitor before me and he had played very well, but I remained unshaken and when the judge called me over I was ready. I told him my tune and he seemed pleased that it wasn't another tune he had heard a million times before. I then stepped away and checked my tuning really quick and it sounded dead on.

I faced the judge and began to play. My focus was there and I could hear the drones locked into the chanter. My doublings came off perfectly and when I got to the end I wished I had another part to play. I stepped away and some folks over by a tree near the judge applauded and congratulated me. My wife seemed very happy and I felt good.

On the way back to the tent, I told my wife that I didn't care where I finished on that piece, I felt I had given it my best and was pleased.

So for the solo results: my son finished second in both of his competitions (5 competitors in the 2/4 and only two in the 6/8); I bombed in my 2/4 - which I expected - and didn't place, but finished 3rd in my slow march (10 competitors in the 2/4 and 17 competitors in the slow march). I was very happy, because I've never placed higher than 5th at the Utah Scottish Festival. I was likewise very proud of my son for being so nice to me after I screwed up on his solos. I was glad he finished where he did; I hope I didn't hurt his scores too badly.

The first band competition went very well. I felt very confident that we nailed it. My son had a hockey try out that we had to leave for so we missed the second band competition, but I heard later that they had done very well there too. The band had two first place finishes - very exciting.

1 comment:

Rose said...

You did good. Congrats on your 3rd place medal! Woo-HOOOOO!