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The Best Deal in Solo Bagpiping

The Best Deal in Solo Bagpiping


I complained about bagpipe competitions, just like all my piping buddies. They don’t care about us, they pack us in like sardines, they are so unorganized, why don’t they include lunch, etc. etc. I said, how hard can it be?

So I started the Atlanta Indoor Solo Piping Contest and learned the answer to many of those questions and faced the complaints. Running a contest is hard work! There’s a lot to talk about, but today I want to talk about the financial aspects of running a piping contest.

Let's consider some ballpark figures.

The cost of a judge for a day with stipend, food, travel and lodging can reach $1000 USD. If you are lucky enough to have a few judges within driving distance it may be half that. So let’s use $750 as an average judges cost for a day. A day may start at 8am and go to 5pm with an hour and a half for lunch, breaks, etc. So at best, we’ve got 7.5 hours of actual judging. The Atlanta Indoor runs from 9am to about 2pm, so that’s 5 hours. Let’s call it an average of 6 hours for a typical contest. That comes to a cost of about $125 per hour for judging, or around $2 per minute.

If your contest director packs competitors into 7.5 minute slots, that’s $15 per competitor per event. Piobaireachds will be twice that, 15 minutes or $30. So your basic competition with a 2/4 March and a Piobaireachd costs the games $45 to judge. Throw in a $15 wrist band to get into the games, $5 parking pass (if you’re lucky), a few bucks for each of the medals you won (if you’re really lucky), and another $20 to $30 for your Piper of the Day award (if you followed the Dojo "Next Level" Success Plan). And you paid what, $20 to enter? Now that’s what I call a deal!


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.