One of the other things that is planned for after the wedding is, of course, the band's competition season. Early in the year, we decided on a number of competitions to attend, including the five majors of course, and also a number of the minor competitions.
At the time, I noted my concerns that we might be taking on too many competitions, especially in May and June, when it seemed we would be out every weekend from the 12th onwards. Fortunately, there has been some movement on that front, which means that things should be a bit easier.
One of the innovations of a couple of years ago was a change to the Grade 4A competition structure. Previously, bands in Grade 4A had played four standard marches for competitions, the same as for 4B bands (albeit to a, hopefully, higher standard). However, it was found that when bands then moved up to grade 3B they were finding the jump simply too big to easily make. Consequently, the RSPBA decided that Grade 4A bands would instead play a "Grade 4 MSR" - that is, two marches, two strathspeys and two reels. The selection of tunes would be generally less challenging than for a 'true' Grade 3 standard, but would still bridge the gap between 4B and 3B.
However, not all of the minor competitions have adopted the changes, since this would mean providing more prizes, and prize money, where they are often struggling to have enough entrants already.
Our initial plan had been for our Grade 4A band to compete only at those events with a Grade 4A competition, and perhaps "play up" at Grade 3 at some of the others, while the Development band play at Grade 4(B) level at the rest. Unfortunately, we have found ourselves without enough drummers to field a second band this year, and the band also lacks the strength to consider "playing up". Therefore, there is little point in us attending any competition that doesn't have a Grade 4MSR competition - eliminating at least three of our minors.
And, additionally, the Edinburgh event has been moved from the first weekend in June to the weekend after the World Championships, when most of the band are in France. Consequently, we won't be attending that one. As things stand, in addition to the five Majors, we will only have four minor competitions to attend this year - Dunbar, Bo'Ness, Annan's Riding of the Marches, and Bridge of Allan. Which is quite pleasant indeed!
(That it also significantly reduces our outlay on buses for the season is a second, and not unwelcome, side effect.)
#12: "A Kingdom Beseiged", by Raymond E. Feist