Here in the Eastern US, we are approaching the end of the competition season. The last few games are being held, we’re packing up the band tents and getting ready for next year. But what does that actually mean?
What should we be doing to prepare for next year? Here are a few ideas.
Major maintenance. This is a great time to tear your pipes down and do that maintenance you’ve been putting off. Oil the wood and polish the metal. Replace those strands of hemp that have been added over time with a fresh wrap. (Check out Carl Donley’s class on compression hemping below.)
Experiment with your setup. Been using the same bag for years? Looking for a different drone sound? Are you always seeing moisture buildup on your reeds? Take this time to research and purchase that new equipment that will improve your setup and your sound. New chanters, new reeds, bagpipe equipment is constantly improving and new stuff may be just waiting help you achieve your goals. Of course, there’s no better place to find the latest and greatest than PipersDojo.com. The old favorites are all there, too.
New Music. There’s a sweet spot in competition music. Play it when it’s too new and you risk memory lapses. But play it too long and it might become boring and expressionless. This is a great time to look through your music books or the Dojo U class archive to find a new piece of music that will excite you, and with luck, complement your strengths while minimizing your weaknesses. Start now and you’ll have that new tune ready for the spring. Check out the Dojo’s Tune Index—it’s HUGE! This is a great time to pick up a new music book or two, as well. See what’s available at the PipersDojo.com.
Set goals. After the closing massed bands of the last game of the year, I like to sit and reflect on the previous season. What went well, what went not so well. Did I see the results I expected? In the days following, I get down to deciding what I want to see happen next year. Some of my goals have been big, such as move up to the next level, learn a new type of tune, learn a piobaireachd. Some have been small, like improve my birl.