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Games Day Tip: Avoid that Panic Moment

Games Day Tip: Avoid that Panic Moment


A great day at the games can be ruined when something goes awry.

One of the better competitions on the eastern US circuit is the Gallabrae Games in Greenville, South Carolina. It is a great games, with plenty of great competition, and the largest beer tent in the Southern US! It’s also the only opening massed bands I know of that leads off with parachutists landing on the field, and an Air Force fly-over during the ceremony!

I was headed over to the solo competition area in the morning when I saw a piper scrambling around. He looked panicked. Rushing up to me, he asked if I might happen to have a copy of "Salute to Queen Elizabeth," by Donald MacLeod. Now, I love Donald MacLeod—especially his piobaireachd, like "Field of Gold." But who carries a set of Donald McLeod's complete compositions around? I imagine other pipers about the field also received the same enquiry. It turns out that he had just been called for his piobaireachd contest. When this fellow announced his tune, the judge was unfamiliar with it and told the competitor he needed to see the music—which he didn’t have.

Now, the competition rules governing the Gallabrae Games, set by the EUSPBA, suggest that piobaireachd competitors are "strongly encouraged to bring a written copy of the music when competing" if the tune is not in the Kilberry or Piobaireachd Society books. (Quick note: "Salute to Queen Elizabeth" is in the Piobaireachd Society's Twentieth Century Piobaireach book.) According to the rules, this competitor was under no obligation to provide a score for his tune (it's a judge's responsibility to be as prepared for the event as the competitor). But the judge asked, and the request sent him into a panic, which is the opposite of what you want to be feeling before a solo piping competition.

How could this piper have avoided this scenario? Always be prepared! Unless you are playing something from the "bagpiping Top 40," it is always good sense to have the sheet music ready to present to the judge, especially in piobaireachd, where the setting of your tune might differ from what a judge finds familiar. You may never get asked for it, but you’ll be that much more relaxed just knowing it’s there. And that's the name of the game. No need for panic!

Competition day is the time when you want everything going your way, with you mind at ease, and no disruptions to set you off your game. Having a "ready for anything" mindset while still keeping your cool is a good thing to develop. Not every situation can be predicted, but being ready for just about everything has its advantages. How would you fare in this scenario?

Take Action

Preparing for Competition with Bruce Gandy
Logistics of Competition
Help Session: Prep for Solo Competition


Tom Crawford Tom Crawford is Pipe Major for North Atlanta Pipes & Drums and a piping instructor in Marietta GA. He’s been piping since 2000, when he began his studies with Winter Taylor. Tom has played rock, blues, country and Celtic music for nearly 50 years. He’s been a member of Keltic Kudzu since 2006, where he plays mandolin, bouzouki, whistle, and of course pipes. Tom has played and competed up and down the Atlantic coast, as well as in Canada and Ireland.