Monday, July 28, 2008

Some more photos from the July Mini and Solo contest

I won!!!!!

These are the results of my competition. I am now OFFICIALLY the STATE CHAMPION!!!!! As you all saw i had a lot of competition as well...... ;) 

A couple of photos taken by Sherryl on Sunday

Sunday, July 27, 2008

July Mini band and Solo Contest ...

Mini Band and Solo Contest

Today’s contest had moved from Adelaide High School to Scotch College at the last minute due to asbestos removal at the former site ... but overall think the move was good since is a better venue

Also was a really cold day today and as such the contest was held inside the Chapel

Lets start off with the results and then get back to my comments

SAP&D 74 31 70 31.5 206.5
CEPB 1 68 33 66 32 199
CALLIES 66 30.5 66 31 193.5
CALLIES 69 30 54 29 182
CEPB 52 32 56 33 173

Solo Piping

  • Andrew Thomson 63 (CEPB)
  • Luke Albrecht 62
  • Willian Butterfield 61
  • Sue Kempster 60 (CEPB)
  • Heather Pennell 60
  • Terrance Levett 58 (CEPB)
  • Willie Dowie 53 (CEPB)
  • Anthony McKenna 51

  • Dan Meehan 70
  • Willie Dowie 56 (CEPB)
  • Luke Albrecht 53
  • Sue Kempster 51 (CEPB)
  • Peter Whitehead b/d (CEPB)
  • Andrew Thomson b/d (CEPB)
  • Craig McFadyen b/d
  • Andrew Fuller 82

Solo Drumming
Elementary Tenor Shiela McKenna 70
Sub-Inte Side Claire Whitehead 72 (CEPB)

Now what does this all mean? I may well review these thoughts once I've looked at the recordings of today, but my overall impressions are as follows :-

First its the SAP&D were clearly the best band (as has been the case for the last year), and their medley was well played. However the march set had a bad start and, by their standards, too many errors ... meaning that they were beatable in that event .... so is a pity that we didnt play that well since if we had played at our best we may have got ahead in that half of the contest. The Royal Caledonian Society medley sounded nice to me, and in general would agree that there isn’t much between them and us ...

But lets look at what we did

Our main band played the marches reasonably well .. not at our best, but was reasonable. There were some errors and some problems with Chanters (mainly since had to change reeds at the 13th hour, and didn’t allow for the warmer hall sharpening things up). However the main problem was that our pace dropped right after the rolls .... I need to listen to the recording to work out what happened, but my impression at the time was that pipes and side corps drifted apart quite badly.

The medley started quite well (albeit perhaps too slow on the Piper of Dundee), the break into the air wasn’t quite together, and the strathspeys were well controlled ... but then came disaster. In the High Road to Linton a couple of pipers got lost, made errors and cut out for a while. To me this was so bad that I am surprised we got ahead of the Callies ... think this was again 'simply' nerves, but need to think about how to overcome this issue. Also was a minor problem with the finish ... the long low A need to be held, and this time I think some stopped a little early (or maybe I finished a little late). Again let me listen to the recordings and get back to it

The second band played as well as I had hoped. As we all know I've been unfair to Sue asking her to get all those tunes off quickly .... really takes a little longer to get everyone locked up properly. Also we had a flat chanter, Bass drones falling over in the moisture, and a couple of chanter reeds failing. In reality these are strictly my problem and will try to get them better later --- ie am letting people use light reeds whilst they get on top of things, but as you know my aim is to get everyone up to playing at least medium strength reeds by the end of the year --- and they are far less sensitive to temperature and blowing. So I accept absolutely that there are issues here, and should be much better by the end of the year
On top of this we were a side drummer short and though not a major issue may have created some problems. As for the playing --- we didn’t have the hits and throws together (need to get the timing closer) and other minor issues, but overall the performance was better that I had expected.

Then there are the solos --- and should start of saying I thought Claire sounded very nice, and its a pity that there was no-one else in her grade to give a bit more edge to the performance .. ie she seemed far too relaxed to me!

In the elementary piping Andrew quite rightly won (though would've been ever better if he had played a little slower and put more weight on some of the gracings). Sues fingering sounded musical, but the Bass Drone was too loud for my taste and think was taking so much air that wasnt quite able to keep the chanter sounding at its best. Willie made one very obvious error and got hammered for it meaning that Terrance managed to get ahead of him (with a good solid performance) ... suspect is going to take some time before Willie is allowed to forget this!

Subintermediate wasn’t quite as good for most of our pipers ... both Peter and Andrew were sounding good until they got lost and broke down. Sues bass drone was still taking lots of air resulting in some chanter hassles which I think was putting her off the pace a bit --- also over the last few weeks she has mastered the very strong 6/8 rhythm, but now we need to relax it a little to get more music back into the tune. However the good news is that Willie made up for his errors in the elementary by getting second place .... played Creeks at a relaxed and comfortable pace and though can be improved still (ie is a big gap up to Dan who won the event) it was definitely a nice performance.

Summing up --- I was very happy with the overall performance of the band. Things are getting better, and lets keep our eyes on October next year as a date when we should have a strong competitive grade 4 band.


Friday, July 25, 2008

Message From the Desert

Hi All,

Well it's been 2 weeks now since I left. Wow, how the time has feels like I've been here for 2 months!!!
As for the weather here, well it's........HOT! .....Damn HOT and SANDY, and.....oh yeah HOT!
(Angus I'm sure you know what I'm talking about (or for Peter...''aboot'' Those crazy Canadians)
The temp here rises to approx 40 Deg C by 9-10 am and reaches 63 Deg C at lunch time in the sun; in the shade it's 57 Deg C.

So as you can see, it's a tad too HOT! to play my Pipes during the day. So I play at night, which is a little better. Get temps in the 30s but the humidity is worse than Darwin.

Hey Willy, you think you sweat a fair bit when you play. The first night I was here I played for an hour, and after that I needed to don my life vest so as I could stay afloat in my own Sweat. Since then, I now only play for half an hour. (Sorry Angus, but again I'm sure you know what I'm talking about or for Peter....''aboot'' Those crazy Canadians).

As for work, well it's been constant, which is good. Missing Tina and Lachie a great deal, finding this trip harder than my last.

Speaking of work, here is a War story for you all, or what we like to call a Wary.
I had to venture off to another part of the the base in the ute, this was last week whilst on day shift. I ended up getting lost and needed to turn around. It was quite sandy where I was ( Imagine that the desert!!!! Geez!!) Anyway what I thought was a good spot to do a 3 point turn, a bit of gravel on the side of the road, yeah this looks all right......just drove approx 1 meter forward and my front right wheel sank in the sand quicker than when the Titanic sank.
I tell you, a few obscene choice words then came from mouth, with several head bangings on the steering wheel. This ute has no 4wd. I got out of the vehicle and started to dig with my hands, then luckily found a piece of wood to which I stuck under the wheel and tried reversing luck.......sank even deeper. The whole wheel was virtually buried. A few more choice words came out like......why me.....why are we not working from Fiji......stupid damn country.......Oh CRAP........and last but not least.......Mummy!!!!!!
By the way I was on my own, with no phone and only had 1 250ml bottle of was 63 Deg C.......and I had a approx 3km walk back to the Flightline. The rest of my crew found it very amusing. We ended up towing the vehicle out of the sand!!!
Now that was a crappy day!!!!!!

Back to my pipes. Peter or Andy....remember the troubles I was having with my drones ? ie my chanter kept coming in first. Still having the same problem. Would I be best purchasing a set of those Drone Enhancers you told me about? (or for Peter....''aboot'' those Crazy Canadians)

Anyway, that's about (for Peter......''aboot'' those crazy Canadians) all I have for you all. I will keep you posted on how I'm doing in this crazy (I wish I was in Fiji) HOT.........SANDY pathetic excuse for a country. Take care and good luck at the comp in Adelaide.

Andy S

p.s. Damn it's HOT over here AAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRGGHHHH!!!!!!!!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

A good age to get going ......

Caleb is already getting a sound out of the chanter.

Tina take note.

At least Karina is trying to do the right thing by her boy !!!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Around 300 years ago.

This is a painting from 1714 of William Cumming, piper to the Laird of Grant.

Notice that he has his bag under the right arm and his hands appropriately "reversed" from our normal approach.

Jeremy and Gordon can take heart ..... there has always been more than one way !!!

Old Angus

Monday, July 21, 2008

Piping Seminar

Dear Pipe Majors,

I have been provided with emails for most Pipe Majors, those who I do not have are sent to band secretaries with the assumption that they will pass on the details.

As you are probably aware, there is a seminar planned for 3rd August at Scotch College. Merran and Donald Blair will be addressing senior pipers and showing them the methods they use to teach in their very successful program. The Warnambool band has a high turnover of young people due to their country location and they regularly appear in the re-grading lists. They range from grade 3 or 4 during rebuilding periods and grade 2 when they have managed to keep people. Their ex players appear in many grade 1 and 2 bands. I urge you not to miss this. I will also arrange a demonstration on tuning and refining a bagpipe.

A second room will be run independently which will provide tuition by Donald and Merran with some assistance for learners, and elementary standard players. This is a good chance for your learners to get a different voice reinforcing good technique and musicianship.

I cannot emphasise enough how important these seminars are. They give us an up to date view of how things are done elsewhere, some fresh ideas, and hopefully some enthusiasm and interaction.

Please respond to Christine Gordon as soon as possible with numbers attending, and I hope that you will make a huge effort so that more of these can be run in the future.


Brett Tidswell

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Clan McLeod Competition

Clan McLeod Week

Pt Adelaide Caledonian Society and the R U Brown Piobaireachd Society are holding the Annual Clan McLeod Competition at the Pt Adelaide Caledonian Society Hall (189 Semaphore Rd, Exeter) on 29 August 2008, 7:30pm

Fred Adam Memorial Trophy - Up to sub-intermediate
1 x 6/8 March (4 parts)

Unrestricted - Anyone of any level
Hornpipe and Jig (4 parts each) This will be judged by ppl in the crowd on the technique and presentation so know your tunes well and be a little cheeky and entertaining.

Entries accepted on the night but if you are interested in playing please let Sue Kempster know so that we have an idea of numbers for the night.

The judge will be from interstate, tea and coffee is provided and a selection of recitalists will play during the evening. Cost is a gold coin donation. Please come along and play or listen as this will be a very enjoyable evening.

For other upcoming competitions please visit

Cheers Sue

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Not sure

Is that really our pipe major on the bottom left? I don't believe it. Could someone confirm.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

City of Elizabeth on TV

In my endeavour to bring articles to the blog, I found this at home.
I have tried to keep it as small as possible, I can't remember
what year it was, but it was a fine sunny day.
The footage appeared on the ABC


Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Well here's a quick peek at the two levels of dress I am accustomed to in my lifestyle in far north Queensland.

The first is a glimpse of the kids fishing on Cape Pallarenda just on the northern beaches of Townsville looking south-east back towards town, Castle Hill in the background. Piping link? Well it's a 'craggy' old thing, looks as if parts of it have 'tumbled-down' over the years - and it's a 'Castle' of course!!! Besides, the photo gives a nice idea of how we spend some of our downtime up here. Incidentally, this picture was taken about fifteen minute's drive from our house in Kirwan.

The second is about as formal as it gets......up this far north at least. It's a picture of me post ANZAC Day service, 2008 in Cooktown (or for Willie, Cooktoon). The uniform (tartan bit at least), hasn't changed much at all as you'll notice, even the Glengarry has the same badge. The day was typically splendid for this part of the world and I was lucky to have been allowed to play Floo'rs O' The Forest for over twenty minutes in 32 degree temperatures for the wreathlaying! Was a tad thirsty after that I can tell you. Fortunately the locals were very grateful for the efforts and were all too ready to assist me replenishing my fluids and electrolytes at little (read zero) cost to myself! The only thing that could be called a downside, and it wasn't at all as I did it back there frequently, was the amount of requests for various tunes back at the RSL - I didn't really stop all afternoon, aye, t'was braw! There was the odd bit of SMS correspondence between Andy Tatty and Willie Tatty and myself too throughout the day and that was almost like being there. There's a few more pictures from the day but I have those on my phone and I'm having trouble getting them downloaded, so perhaps another day.

Anyway, as I say, my first effort and I'll try again with any more that may be of interest. Stay safe and keep up the great work, keep contributing to this blog, it's an excellent innovation and is getting to be huge! Cheers all from the Townsville Clan!
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O'er the Bows to Ballindalloch

This is a title that has always troubled me a bit.

Firstly Ballindalloch is located in inland Banffshire, a long way from the coast, so the idea of "bows" in terms of a boat is a bit peculiar. Even if it was referring to a boat, then why "bows" in the plural? That would be odd also.

I have often wondered whether the real title might have been "O'er the Howes to Ballindalloch" and over time, as in typical Chinese Whispers style, it has lapsed into the title we know. "Howes" in the Scottish dialect means valleys or glens, which sounds more reasonable to me.

Anyway, there is no doubt at all that "Bows" will remain in the title forever more - but it is an enigma. And I must say that the intrigue takes nothing away from the brilliant musicality of this strathspey.

The picture above shows beautiful Ballindalloch Castle in all its glory. And I can add that it has been in the hands of the Macpherson-Grants since 1546. Not a bad record.

Old Angus

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Thanks for Tartan Day

Received from David Porteous of the Royal Caledonian Society of SA today:

Greetings to each of you and your bands.
Thank you so very much to each of you.  Please also pass on my personal most sincere thanks to all the members of your respective bands for their sterling efforts at the Tartan Day March.  Clearly, the crowd loves to hear the massed bands and the counter-marching at the end was a wonderful climax. 
We seem to have a problem each year with the paucity of Highland Dancers due to a clash on the last Saturday in June with their annual Highland Dancing Competition held on the same date.  Accordingly, I propose to hold the Tartan Day March in future on the first Saturday in July rather than on the Saturday nearest 1 July as in the past, so please mark this in your Band activity diaries.  In other words in 2009 the Tartan Day March will be held on Saturday 4 July.
Following the success of the counter-marching this year, I would like to try a wee bit of formation marching.  I will put this to our Band Management Committee to see what we can come up with.
Once again very many thanks to one and all.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Another Interesting Old Photo

Following on with the theme of old photos, here is one I downloaded a few years back. The caption was:

"My local instructor Ken MacLeod (on far right of photo) was PM of the Lovat Scouts TA Pipe Band in the early 1950's.  Here is a photo of him on a course (not the PM's course though) at the Army School of Piping being taught by Captain John Maclellan."

It's interesting that in regard to uniform you read so much about what must be worn with what etc. Especially sporrans (day sporrans, dress, horsehair etc.). Look at what this group of experienced pipers are wearing (everything imaginable).

It would be interesting to know all the names and affiliations of those present.

- Peter

" Piping Legends "

I found this great picture, while looking on the net.
P/M Willie Ross
P/M G S McLennan
P/M John McDonald
I'm hoping both Angus's can fill us all in with some of their legendary tunes, and inform our younger Pipers who they are.

Andy T

Friday, July 4, 2008

a few more Tartan Day Photos

Fresh Talent

This is how to finger a healthy "C" .....

James, our precocious nine year old learner, is making excellent progress, no doubt being spurred on by his Mum.

We could use a few more like him.

Old Angus

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Ancient History

My very first pipe band. Just look for the best-looking youngster in the picture and you will have found me !

This was a boys band in Aberdeen in 1946 - just after the end of World War II. My brother Douglas had been a drummer in the band, but was killed during the war in a shooting accident on the rifle range, aged 15 years.

Sadly, most of the players have passed on, but I still keep in regular touch with one of them by Email.

Incidentally, more than a few of the tunes and settings currently in our repertoire have their origins in this group !

Old Angus