It has been a very busy weekend of band stuff this weekend, and there's too much to recount in detail. Allow me therefore to summarise...
On Friday I attended the Stirling Mod to support four of our learners in various competitions. Unfortunately, my own learner dropped out on Thursday, which was a mixed blessing - on one hand, she really wasn't ready for the competition; on the other, she had worked very hard to try to get ready. So it was a shame, but it was also the right decision.
Three of our learners were competing in the Under-14s, and the fourth in the Under-16s. Of these, I only saw the three in the Under-14s play - due to a complexity of the timing, our other tutor had to rush off to help the other guy get ready and play while I helped prepare the others for their performances. Still, that other guy did very well (probably the best of the four).
Of the three I saw, two played very well - probably as well as I had seen them ever play. The third was rather disappointing, in that he started with what could have been a winning performance, but then his lips just gave up leading to him playing faster, and faster, and finally running to the end. A shame - that could have been great.
So, no prizes, but four decent performances. All in all, a good night.
Then the competition on Saturday saw the band somewhat depleted - one piper had left after last week's fiasco, our pipe sergeant was working (but hadn't let us know), one of our young pipers was at the football instead, and one had fallen ill. So we went on with eight pipers - five of our senior members plus three youngsters.
The performance was okay, but not spectacular. I could say that the wind did us no favours, and that would be true, but it would also be a matter of making excuses. We can do better and we should have done better. Even four pipers down, we should have had enough of the core of the band to qualify.
And, as implied above, we didn't qualify for the final. The feedback sheets indicated exactly the same issues that we've known about for some time - a less-than-great start, some bad blowing, and some issues with the phrasing. No shock there.
But... our drummers actually won their qualifying heat - first out of fourteen (should have been eighteen, but some dropped out). In times past, that would have been enough for an automatic qualification for the band as a whole; alas, the rules have been changed so that that is no longer the case. (I have mixed feelings about that - on one hand, the pipe corps would probably have played better given another chance; on the other, it would have meant taking a spot away from others who, as a band, had genuinely played better.)
(Oh, the full results: 11th and 12th for piping, 1st for drumming, 10th for ensemble.)
We stuck around and attended the march-past, as our drum major was still in her competition and hadn't had her results yet. Alas, she didn't win anything either.
And then the journey home was fine, thankfully. No repeat of the atrocity that was last week - but then, we'd have been exceptionally unlucky if that had been the case, given the absence of the key people involved.
And that was that. On the one hand, it was sorely disappointing not to qualify (and this very likely ends any hopes of being moved back up this season), on the other, a fantastic result for our drummers. And on the other other hand, more hard work for the next several weeks before the European Championships in Forres.
Oh, and I finished my book. Thank goodness.
#25: "Possession", by A.S. Byatt (a book from The List. Sadly, not recommended.)