Preparing for Highland Games
Preparing for a competition gives you a specific goal to work towards. You may be more focused and pay attention to details because you will want to do your best. Although you may get feedback from friends and fellow pipers, at a competition you will get an objective view of your performance and will receive constructive feedback on what you need to work on.
Performing at a competition will help you to overcome any pressure you may feel about performing in front of others! Competitions are great places to meet other pipers, who can give you tips and share competition stories. Their performances may inspire you to keep practicing. If you do well, they will acknowledge your great performance. If you don't do so well, they will offer support and encourage you to keep practicing and competing.
Send in your competition registrations as soon as possible, as those who sign in last often perform first. Select an appropriate tune that you can play well. It's better to play an easy tune well than to play a harder tune poorly. Play the tune often to get it internalized, as there will be lots of distractions at the events. Play in front of others to get used to it. Watch other competitions to see how they run and how other pipers perform. Practice with marching if there are marching requirements. Also try on your entire outfit and practice while wearing it. It's a good idea to have a back up reed ready, just in case. Double check your instrument to make sure that everything is as it should be.
Leave early to give yourself at least an hour on site before your competition. Take directions and a map with you. Find the competition area and check in. Make sure that they have you registered for the correct events. Check your drone and chanter reeds. Do some exercises to get your pipes tuned and your fingers warmed up, but don't overdue it. You want to save energy for your performance. Check to see if the event is progressing on time. Sometimes, they can be ahead or behind schedule, so it's a good idea to keep checking in.
When it is your turn to perform, try to relax. The judge will often make eye contact with you to signal that it's your turn. Walk up to the judge, make eye contact, introduce yourself and state the tune you will be playing. Then, take your time before starting to play. If you need to do any last minute tuning, turn away from the judge. When ready, face the judge & give a nod to signal that you are ready. Although you may want to rush through it to get it over with, try to take your time and try to keep the correct tempo. Stay focused and avoid distractions. When finished, pause, make eye contact with the judge and say thank you. Results are typically posted about an hour after the event is over.
The most important things to remember are try to relax & have fun!