Last week was an incredibly busy week for the band - practice on Monday and Thursday, a committee meeting on Tuesday, a gig that got cancelled as we were en route on Thursday (we had a practice instead), two nighttime events on Friday and Saturday. And, of course, the start of the competition season at Dunbar on Saturday.
The day dawned bright and hopeful. It was sunny, albeit rather cold, which was about the best weather we could have hoped for. The journey to Dunbar was therefore quite pleasant, despite our obvious tiredness from the night before.
On arrival, we spent a bit of time getting used to the place, then went through the process of tuning up. So far, so good. Then we moved down to "final tuning", where we first ran through the tunes for the competition - and they just fell apart on us.
It seemed that a combination of the cold, the fact that we were playing outdoors, and the nerves of the occasion had conspired to really mess us up. The tunes weren't controlled, they weren't together, and they were far too fast.
We played a few more times, and they seemed to get a bit better. Still, not too hopeful. Indeed, I almost spoke to the Pipe Major at this point, advising him that he should probably drop the young man next to me, who was really struggling. Harsh, but...
Still, we went on with our full array of players. And we put forth our best performance of the day. It was much better than before. And, indeed, the guy next to me was absolutely fine - under pressure, some people focus while others fold; it appears that he is of the former sort.
Sadly, for being our best of the day, it still wasn't terribly good. One other player (another younger member of the band) really messed up, while a second sounded his pipe chanter earlier, which is a major no-no.
The end result is that we weren't happy with the performance. We know we can play better. Much better, in fact.
The final result matched up with our expectations - we came 10th overall, out of 12 bands in our grade, scoring 11th and 10th for piping, 4th for drumming, and 10th for ensemble. Dear, oh dear.
The only two positives from the day were that we knew we could, and should, have played better, which means there is reason to be hopeful next week; and we now have a guide as to some specific areas that we should work on. In theory, this should mean we're much better placed to do well next week at the Scottish Championships. Well, I guess we'll see.
On the plus side, we won't be quite so knackered next week, what with not having a performance at 11pm the night before!