Getting Ready for My St. Patrick's Day

So tomorrow is my band's big St. Patrick's Day pub crawl. There's also a deeper significance to tomorrow, it marks my one year anniversary of playing publicly with my band. I played the practice chanter for a year, than was a year on the pipes, and than made my debut with the band last year.

St. Patrick's Day is also important for my band, because, while we aren't a competitive band, we march in parades all summer long, and St. Patrick's Day is the unofficial start of our parade season too.

Last year St. Patrick's Day was on a Saturday, this year due to leap year, it's on a Monday. It will be very interesting to see what a St. Patrick's Day pub crawl is like on a weekday.

So what have I been doing to get ready for St. Patrick's Day?

1) Practicing

I got a bad cold last weekend and wasn't able to practice for several days, so I'm trying to get a bit of my playing stamina back. I also figured out that my bass drone reed was really loose, making it really tough to play too. Stuck into the bottom of each of the long stocks that stick out of the bagpipe bag is a drone reed. This fell out of my drone and into my bag. Well when I figured out how to get it out of my bag, it became loose again, this basically prevents an airtight seal from taking place and me feel like I was hyperventilating when I was trying to play my bagpipes.

Now that my drone reed issue is resolved and I'm feeling better, I've had some super good practice sessions over the last coupe of days so I feel a lot more confident about playing tomorrow.

Here are the sets that I've been focusing on, and that I'll be playing tomorrow:

"Scotland the Brave"-"Murdo's Wedding"-"Wings"
"The Green Hills of Tyrol"-"Balmoral"
"Bathgate Highland Gathering"-"Suo Guan"-"Tenny Penny Bit"-"Lady Carmichael"
"Argyll's Crossing the River Po"-"Battles O'er"
"Amazing Grace"
"Gardens of Skye"-"Leaving Liverpool"
"Cockney Jocks"-"Bonnie Lass O'Fyfe"

There's a quartet of pipers in my group that will be playing an Irish set that includes "Oh Danny Boy","Minstrel Boy" and "Wearing O' the Green".

2) Getting my uniform in order.

St. Patrick's Day last year was also the debut of all of my cool bagpipe uniform stuff. I have a white dress shirt, kilt, sporran (black purse like thing that hangs around my waste), belt, hose (socks), glengarry (hat), flashes (little bits of cloth that hang off the socks), kilt pin, hat pin and sgian dubh (little ceremonial dagger tucked in my sock).

Tomorrow I'll also be wearing my new ghillie brogues, these are special shoes my band decided would be part of our band uniform. I did wear them at our Burns Dinner back in January, but that was just for a few hours. So I'll be curious to see how they hold up to pretty much a whole day of wearing and moving about.

I'll also be wearing my brand new argyle jacket. This is something else my band decided to add to its uniform and at the Burns Dinner, I realized I was just about the only one not to have one yet. So I ordered it about a month ago, it was on back order, and it came in the mail on Friday! More importantly, it also fit. The weather tomorrow isn't supposed to be the greatest so I think it will definitely come in handy.

3) Making Sure My Bagpipes Are Ready

I already talked about my bass drone reed, but there are a few other maintenance type things I've been doing like taping up my mouth piece, my chanter, and my drones. Over time they can get loose, so I use tape (hemp can also be used), to make sure they're all set. One time at a practice last summer a piper in my band had their chanter literally fall out of their bag when we were marching, it was too loose! And it scared me, because chanters can pretty easily crack and break. I also bought a new cord for my bagpipes, this is the bit that holds the drones all together, I haven't replaced this yet, but I still might do it yet tonight...we'll see.

And that's about it. My band is meeting at 2pm tomorrow to tune and than we'll hit our first bar at 3pm. We'll make 9 stops total (although some of those are repeat stops at the same bar), and our last scheduled stop is at 9:30pm.

We're all going to ride around on a bus together for part of the pub crawl too. We were able to have the bus the whole day last year, but we won't be catching it until 5pm tomorrow. The bus totally made the experience perfect last year, we didn't have to worry about getting quickly to the next bar, finding a parking place, and waiting for everyone to trickle in. With the bus, we could all be together and than make our grand entrance.

I probably won't post on the pub crawl until later on in the week, I suspect it will take me a few days to recover!

Pipe on!

1 comment:

Mike (AKA Pops) said...

You might consider having a mechanic freind "thread" you reed seats. My son did this for me and I never had a problem since.

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