Where to begin?
This season has largely mirrored the last two I was involved in - we started with some significant optimism after a productive winter, suffered some early setbacks, and never really recovered. The results just haven't gone our way, with us only twice getting into the top half of the score-sheet (4th out of 9 in the Grade 4 at Dunbar; 2nd out of 4 in the Grade 4MSR at Bridge of Allan). Once again we achieved nothing whatsoever at the majors, with the likely consequence that we'll be downgraded for next year. That might be the best thing for it - although we'd struggle a great deal to get back up, we just don't seem to be getting any traction in Grade 4A.
I haven't been enjoying competing at all. My pipes seem to be tuned on a knife-edge - a fraction this way and they're flat, a fraction that way and they're overblown, a fraction up here and the chanter sounds early, a fraction down there and the drones don't sound. I just can't seem to resolve that, and am getting increasingly pissed off at being told I can't get anything right. Or maybe it's just me, and I really can't get anything right.
(That said, the last competition was actually quite enjoyable. If we could just get that every week, instead of the other, that would be grand.)
The bureaucratic side of running the band is similarly frustrating - we've lost the use of our practice venue due to council cutbacks, we need to find an additional £4,000 of funding per year from somewhere, and we've just burned too much money this year (on instruments, uniforms, and the like - all good stuff, and abnormal expenses, but still...)
The one shining light of this season is our learners, where we have the makings of an entire new band coming through the ranks. And this is the best group of learners that I have ever seen, both in terms of their ability and of their willingness to learn. So, if we can just keep that group together, we might be able to do something interesting next year.
And that's that - all pretty depressing stuff, I'm afraid. But you'll probably be glad to hear that that's it done. As of Saturday, I get my weekends back. Looking forward to it!