In reality the band played well ---- by which I mean that it sounded much better than I expected on such a hot day. However Ringwood and SA are both currently stronger bands than we are, and as such I am happy to come 3rd to them this year -- but we are improving and if things go as I hope then I think we should be a truly competitive Grade 4 band by this time next year. So Tanunda 2009 should see us hunting for a higher placing, and as such we need to look at where we can improve.
So what were the main points for us the remember from the weekend?
Well, on the positive side strengthening some key chanter reeds allowed us to get much better tone than last year, the expression in the main tunes has improved a lot , the drone sound is much more solid and we had pretty clean finishes. The time we spent on setting the chanters (truer and flatter) on Tuesday really paid off .. … don’t believe we would’ve been able to keep going if the 35C temperature had been allowed to pull up the pitch any higher. (so, thanks Dad for this effort ). I also think that water bottles will soon be seen as essential for all street marches in the future and suspect will see other band using them by next summer! And of course getting Jason, Gordon and Steve blooded on the contest arena was also a worthwhile investment into our future.
On the negative side there are still far too many slips and errors in the tunes (need to concentrate more – and watch fingers more closely), and we had a couple of bad starts. Will let you hear the recording later, but it's interesting that the biggest issues seem to be when we are marking time (perhaps meaning that we don’t do that often enough - or could just be initial nerves) and with the more heavily pointed tunes (eg Dark Island and Liberton Polka) still not together, and that in general the playing got more solid as each set proceeded. And unfortunately this may well be Gordon's last engagement with us --- his work contract finishes at the end of the month so he is heading home to Geelong.
So what should we focus on next? Well for the pipers it comes down to
- MAKE LESS ERRORS !!!!!!!!!
- More accurate expression --- we need to have every dot and cut exactly together. To do this it's essential we all watch fingers. In a circle I try to get a pair of strong pipers at the heart and at the two ends -- they stare at each others fingers and everyone else needs to lock into those 4.
- Better attacks. In particular need to get the first E coming in accurately and together.
- Tighter embellishments. Need to get gracenotes and doublings being played together
- Better blowing. In particular we are getting too much variation in the sound of B, D and high A (and sometimes other notes). Listen to those around you and try to lock in.
Having said that, I think that the attacks are probably the best thing to target now since this shouldn't be too hard to get right --- so think will focus on this for the rest of this year :>