Experiences Competing ‘Online’

Just a short post for now. In my never ending pursuit to improve my piping I decided to take part in the Bagpipelessons.com Online Piping Competition. Having seen some of the entries over the past events and been impressed I thought I’d give it a try and plus, you don’t have to travel anywhere. I could pipe in my normal spot, normal times yet enter a competition. ¬†Great opportunity. All I needed was my video camera, some tune polishing and some time to do the filming.¬†One thing I found a bit tricky at the beginning of the entry process, although it was really easy to enter once sorted, was the fact that I’m graded by the CLASP in the UK, and the US grades are numbered differently. Not a massive issue but when you’re not sure and you’re living in the UK, the Piping Center in Glasgow were a great help to work out where I fitted in. Grade 2 it was! Always best to check with the correct authority to ensure you’re competing at the right level.


Otherwise you could find yourself up against the big boys.


One of the things I was excited about, being it an online competition was the fact that I didn’t have just one chance to play and that was that. I had the chance to record different attempts at the tune. At first I thought this was an advantage. As I learned later on, it wasn’t really that at all. Having the ability to re-record yourself can be a bad thing and really frustrating. It was harder than I first imagined – but all good for the piping. Over the next few weeks (I think it was weeks) – I spent as much time as I could re-learning some competition tunes and running over my Piobaireachd. It was during a work day when I finally decided to take my camera up to a room where I practice during my lunch break. An hour later I had recorded nothing. Well, that’s not true really. I had recorded, and re-recorded and just kept repeating the process over and over until I almost went nuts. And then some.

In all seriousness I soon found out that having the ability to record myself for a competition was pretty hard work and not the advantage I thought it was. I mean, yep it’s great to be able to play a set through to the end, until you are happy that there are no mistakes but it was really hard work having to keep recording, rewinding and starting over.


My Piobaireachd was the first set I got done and the other sets soon came in after that. Probably as I was running out of time towards the end. It took a fair chunk of an evening to get the sets off the tape and everything downloaded to my PC and then uploaded to YouTube, but as the sets were done it felt completely painless. The process of submitting the videos via the bagpipelessons website was really easy and simple to use. You had to enter some details about that specific event, along with the video link etc, and bam – it was entered. There was nothing complex at all about the process all the way through booking it , playing and submitting. Hats off to the organizers and people involved in making it all happen. I’d recommend taking part for pipers around the globe who want to try their hand at competing and who might not be in immediate reach of competitions they can actually get to.


As it turned out I got a few placings, be them 5th and 6th placings, but still I was happy with that. Overall it was a great way to start getting on top of some competition tunes and pick up some momentum to keep practicing! Thanks to everyone involved and I look forward to seeing the next videos for the next competition!