Piping Up – “The love to Compete”

Piping Up - "The love to Compete"

Some compete, but many of us play for the sheer joy of it. Losing yourself in the music, the moment, the feeling of wonder.

That is why I’m not much of a competitor.

I tried competing back in the day and tried to keep it lighthearted and fun. But it just did not really feel like fun to me. Music became an effort, labored, joyless.

So, I dove into community bands, concert bands and began my journey piping for Highland Dancers. It was a revelation to me.

Music became fun again. My joy returned with bells on. More delight came with leading the South Shore Pipes and Drums (Founded by Scotia Music).

While the joy was back, my technique needed some work. Teaching is wonderful of course, but it is still necessary practice, practice, practice as they say at Carnegie Hall.

Put simply, the teacher needed a teacher. 🙂

We can all use someone to push us from time to time and that is when my angel appeared.

Captain Knox is a bagpiper of 40 years, and he excels in Piobaireachd. Pibroch, piobaireachd or ceòl mòr is an art music genre associated primarily with the Scottish Highlands that is characterized by extended compositions with a melodic theme and elaborate formal variations.

Not only has he helped with the South Shore Pipers, but he graciously offered to be my guru. With his gentle guidance and incredible expertise my confidence soared.

I cannot thank Captain Knox enough for all his has done for piping in general, and me.

The tunes he chose for my first competition back brought me to tears. They were difficult, meaty, and beautiful. I would never have chosen them for myself. He believed in me.

That simple belief worked wonders.

It’s amazing how one person can change your self view, your spirit, and your belief in your abilities.

That is the reason you could find me with my brother, Jeremy Keddy, competing in the George Harrison Memorial drumming competition this spring.

It is a grand way to get our competition mojo back and dip our toes in competing again. The joy remained with a focus on our improvement vs. trying to beat the other guy.

We both took to it like ducks to water. My layoff had affected my temp a bit. Other than that, everything was working like a well-oiled clock.

I felt alive again. This is what I’ve been born to do. Music is my calling.

The video we had chosen to submit was our first run through. A few blips, but it felt glorious. I’m trying to stand still, but I couldn’t as it has been so long since I’ve played competition music.

Check out the video on the right to see my stomping feet and dancing ways. I just could not help it.

We came in third place.

Jeremy and I will be competing together again this summer, and who knows, maybe I will throw in a solo competition or two where I will finally play the tunes chosen by Captain Knox with no pressure, just the love of music, my brother, and of course, my beloved pipes.


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