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Piping in 2020 and 2021

When the pandemic arrived, all piping gigs and events shut down. Competitions ceased, and I had a lot of stored up energy from rehearsing the tunes for solo competitions. In the spring of 2020, the first online virtual contest appeared, and many followed thereafter. EUSPBA (Eastern United States Pipe Band Association) created a way to sanction events so that pipers still earned points.

I entered the first event a year ago, and moved my enthusiasm to the new way to compete. Last year, this worked well for me, and I ended up placing 3rd overall (2nd in march and 4th in piobaireachd) in EUSPBA's rankings. I have had a bit of oral surgery, slowing down my entries, but I am still enjoying getting back into setting goals, improving, and moving to higher levels in my piping.

So, what have I learned, and how can I use it?

I learned:

  1. It is important to set goals every day, even when it seems like nothing is going on. So I set practice goals for each day that include chanter work and piping work.

  2. One must seek feedback and use it to improve in whatever hobby, professional, or activity one is undertaking. I still take lessons and receive great feedback from my teacher, Josh Blais, but I wanted to also see what experts who didn't know me thought I could do to improve, so I entered as many virtual contests as I could fit into my schedule and budget.

  3. It is essential to body, mind, and spirit to be willing to step outside the box (especially when it's forced upon you) and try new things - even if they are virtually existent. When in-person lessons were not an option (for quite a few months), I attended Piper's Dojo University's online live classes. It forced me to get up early in the morning and get focused.

  4. Have fun. Be playful. Laugh. I can't help but do this whenever I am piping. The pipes are an incredible instrument with their own personality and persnicketiness (I don't think that's a word, but you know what I mean).

  5. When submitting virtually, one can try as many times as possible and submit the best. I learned that the first or second try was usually the best. After that, it could get frustrating. Therefore, if I couldn't get the recording right, I stopped, practiced, and tried the next day.

There were times when I had to record outside, at home, and in empty halls. It made it a lot of fun because we were dealing with different elements and places.

It looks like the live contests are opening up, yet with this pandemic still raging, I will be limiting the ones I attend to the ones with my band in January, March, and April of 2022 (hoping things settle down by then), and keep entering the virtual contests as long as they are still available.



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