Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Inner Game...

From one marathon weekend to the next....this time, it was literal.  The Subaru West Coast Triathlon Series was held in beautiful Shawnigan Lake over the weekend and we were there to cheer on Travis who has been training hard for this, the first of the season.
Walking into a park with hundreds of triathletes is mighty different than walking into a park with pipe banders, in so many ways. But there are similarities as well - to see top athletes hammer out Sprint, Olympic and Half Iron distances one after the other is truly inspiring, much like listening to a top musician spin out a well played set, it just makes you want to be better. It got me thinking of the time we all put into these things we do for fun and how we train for them. Or do we? 
Ever read The Inner Game of Music? Barry Green took the 'natural learning' principles from Timothy Gallwey, who wrote the Inner Game for tennis, golf and skiing and applied it to music. We've all felt the nervousness, self doubt, fear of failure and distractions at some point on the boards or on the field....this book teaches how to acknowledge and overcome those feelings which in turn, enhances the experience as well as the learning. 
I witnessed the Inner Game in practice at the Tri park this weekend on a number of different levels: Para-Olympians ahead of the pack, first timer Triathletes giving it their best, racers not finishing at all and one person blowing away the self doubt when it mattered the most. That last outcome was pure victory and proof that trust is a powerful tool.
How much of that is due to training? Or in a musician's terms, practice? Are there equal parts physical and mental preparation? On the day, does it just come down to shear determination and mental toughness?

Monday, May 18, 2009

Marathon Weekend

May Long weekend is most definitely a long one for us around here...starting with the Comox Valley Highland Games on the Saturday. James P., Ryan and I headed up island early that morning to play at the first outdoor contest of the season. We all made out okay....Ryan with two 3rds in H/J and MSR, me with two 3rds in MSR and H/J and James P. with a 1st in the H/J, 2nd in Piobaireachd and 6th in MSR. It was nice to see the bands from the mainland out and playing at this one! James P. judged the bands in the afternoon while Ryan and I enjoyed the first ever Mexican food booth at the highland games! 
While we were up island, James W. was leading the Police band at the Victoria Highland Games. That games has expanded into a two day affair with Saturday being more of a festival with an entertainment tent, whisky tasting, haggis hurling etc. The Police band was the guest band and debuted the brand new full dress.

Sunday at the Victoria Games is when the piping and drumming contests are now so once again, early morning. Ryan came away with a 4th in the H/J while James P. won that event, and a 6th in the MSR with James P. winning second. Both James W. and James P. were on the judging panel for the band contest. The bands seem to be working hard early in the season as everyone was sounded pretty decent for the start of the outdoor season. 
Ryan and I had a pleasure of sitting with two friends during the contest. One is a fabulous guitar player, channeling Stevie Ray Vaughan in a seriously scary way...and the other is a wicked photographer who was documenting her first time at the highland games. Neither one has ever been involved with any of this but both were making acutely valid comments and exceptionally relevant questions. I found it interesting to be in the middle of two extremely creative and sharp individuals who actually were making an effort to understand the little musical world we immerse ourselves in every weekend - and to my delight, were catching EVERYTHING and got the end result spot on. Talk about an unbiased opinion. 
Monday is Victoria Day which means the Victoria Day Parade. Although it's not the most fun thing to do after two days of highland games, we geared up and played with the Police band...there's nothing like marching behind a bunch of buses breathing in their exhaust and in front of ambulances with their sirens going. Despite all that, it went well and we wrapped up the day with a barbeque (in the rain). A nice end to the longest weekend of the year. Literally.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Audio Files!

Thankfully someone recorded the contest!
Click on these links below to listen to James P's winning performances (and the other prize winners) from the William Livingstone Sr. Invitational in Hamilton, Ontario: 

Thanks to Andrew and Ken for posting these files!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

James P. Sweeps the Livingstone

James P. walked away an undisputed winner Saturday at the Livingstone with first in the Piobaireachd and first in the MSRHJ, gaining the overall prize! Congrats to Alex Gandy, Sean McKeown and Andy Rogers who were also in the prize list. Judges were Andrew Berthoff, Ed Neigh and Donald Lindsay. 
Check out www.pipesdrums.com for audio files of the performances of all of the prize winners in the MSRHJ event. We will be celebrating upon James P's return on Monday!
Speaking of celebrating, we are wishing all of the Mothers out there a Happy Mothers Day! I know that I own a bunch to my Mom for putting up with all sorts of antics, weird decisions and those conversations that begin with "So...I've been thinking..." which usually result in a massive upheaval of my life. She has been a solid support and super understanding...couldn't ask for anything better. Much love to Momma Troy!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009


Lots has gone on in the last couple of weeks....starting with shocking news from down Portland way. Days after I returned from my trip down south, we found out that our good friend, Joe has been diagnosed with a brain tumor. It happens to be the same kind of brain tumor Ted Kennedy has, which is operable, albeit risky. Joe is an art director, artist and illustrator and has been for some time. Check out some of his work here...apparently even with his current situation, he is still producing some great pieces. Our thoughts and hearts go out to the Hewitts and our fingers are crossed for our buddy. 
Another trip to the States was in order last weekend - this time for James W. and James P. They participated in a weekend that happens once every couple of years. Our friend, Dan Deissner puts together a full three day stint with the legendary, Andrew Wright. James W. has been friends with Andrew for years and cherishes any opportunity to pick his brain since he knows every piobaireachd known to man. Armed with only a chanter, Andrew went over the Gold and Silver Medal tunes from memory (including the different variations of the tunes) with the talented group of individuals that gathered to share in his knowledge. Thanks to Dan for making the weekend happen.
Nothing like three full days of piobaireachd to get you geared up for the contest season! 
And that's exactly what's happening here....James P. was the featured guest at last weekend's Vancouver Island Pipers Club and was also joined by Ryan MacDonald who played her small pipes. (I had made a promise earlier this season that we'd feature the winner of the BCPA Final Knockout and it was James P.!) It's really too bad that the turnout was quite small because these two are at the top of their game and among the VERY few individuals actually competing from the Island. I figured that there would be a bit more support for them.  
As the President of the VIPC, I'm trying to brew some interest amongst younger players to either come to the Club to listen or to play. It's amazing the lack of enthusiasm to participate either way. The Club has always promoted a non-competitive environment with the hopes in providing a venue where people find it comfortable to play. With not many young students - piping or drumming - coming down the pipe (no pun intended!), what will the piping community look like years down the road? Am I missing the mark here? Or is there really not many young people interested in doing this anymore?
Regardless of that, James P. is headed out to Ontario on Friday to compete at the William Livingstone Sr. Memorial Invitational over the Mother's Day weekend (you didn't forget, did you?!). We are rooting for him all the way of course and will be blogging the results once we hear word.
Until then - make your Mother something nice....

Monday, May 4, 2009

What Happens in Vegas...

On the same weekend as the Las Vegas Highland Games, Momma Troy lived out a dream....although in Vegas, she was NOT there for the highland games (shocking, I know!) but there to see one of her favorite musicians, Elton John. He's on his last performances at Ceasars Palace (sharing the stage with Celine Dion on alternate nights), making way for Bette Midler. Cher is also next to come...Mom HAD to see Elton live and Vegas was the place to do it. 


Elton John's The Red Piano was directed and designed by David LaChapelle, photographer and video/film/commercial director...best known for his humour and surrealism. He has worked on videos for The Dandy Warhols, Robbie Williams, Joss Stone, Norah Jones and of course, Elton John - and his photos are really amazing.
Mom and her good friend, Jo thoroughly enjoyed the concert and cried like teenage girls in between the whistling, catcalls and yelling. Two costume changes, imagery designed by David LaChapelle, brilliant band and songs such as Tiny Dancer, Candle in the Wind, Bennie and Jets and Your Song, it couldn't have gotten any better for Mom! 

Ever walked around the Bellagio? Remember all of the glass flowers on the ceiling? That is the work of Dale Chihuly, originally born in Tacoma, Washington. His works of art are seen all over the world, including in his hometown where the walkway to the Museum of Glass houses his Bridge of Glass. As I spend a lot of time in Tacoma, I have seen this bridge up close and personal and let me tell you, it's outrageously gorgeous. 
Ever seen anyone blowing glass? Spending time in the Hot Shop at the Museum is an awesome way to see guest glass blowers or the Museum of Glass team form chunks of glass into beautiful objects and a great way to appreciate the methodical process of glass blowing. 

Dale Chihuly, interestingly, works with a team of artists, choreographing and directing the outcome...in the late 1970s, he was in a car accident where his face was severely cut by glass and was blinded in his left eye. After dislocating his shoulder in a bodysurfing accident years later which left him no longer able to hold the glassblowing pipe, he started hiring artists to do the work. Today, Chihuly lives and works in his studio on Lake Union. I'm hoping I run into him on the streets of Seattle or Tacoma one of these days...