2019-12-12: EUSPBA Graduate Exam and AGM                    rak

After several months of preparation, I took the EUSPBA (Eastern
United States Pipe Band Association) Graduate Exam this past
weekend in Philly. Preparation involved getting forty-eight
tunes off from memory, as well preparing a thousand word essay
on a historic piping family. I choose the MacGregors of
Glenlyon, though I admittedly only started reading up on them
the night before the exam. (Thankfully, the CMU library had a
copy of Gibson's "Old and New World Highland Bagpiping", a book
with a fair bit of information about piping families in Scotland
and Cape Breton.)

The written music theory part was relatively straightforward,
and I think they were very kind to us in the practical part: the
judges only had us play a couple of MSRs and a piobaireachd,
while people who took the exam some years ago report having been
asked to play the third part of each of their strathspeys, and
then random variations from their piobaireachds.

I ended up being asked to play:

1. M: Urquhart Castle
2. S: John Roy Stewart
3. R: Miss Proud
4. MSR: Colin Thomson; Inveraray Castle; Willie Murray's
5. Piob: A Flame of Wrath for Patrick Caogach 

The list of tunes I submitted is below. I am pleased to report
that I passed the exam! Several people have asked me what I get
from having passed this exam. The answer is: not much. I did it
because it was a fun challenge. The only other benefit is that
it is a prerequisite for being invited to sit the exam to become
an EUSPBA judge.

I also attended some of the workshops they had during the AGM.
Rob Mathieson was giving a workshop on medley construction and I
was amused to hear him comment that it would be nice if bands
tried something apart from two three-paced rolls for
introductions, or if perhaps there were a solo in a band medley
and pipers cut in and out to give dynamics. Rob Roy did these
things about a decade ago, and EUSPBA judges hammered us at Loon
Mountain for having a "preponderance of gimmickry".

Stephanie Burns's [0] workshop on tune memorization and on
managing performance anxiety was very interesting. I think I'll
eventually get a copy of her books.

[0] https://stephanieburns.com/

Submitted tunes

2/4 March
1. Urquhart Castle
2. John MacDonald's Welcome to South Uist
3. Barnacabber
4. Cowal Gathering
5. John Macmillan of Barra
6. Pipe Major Donald Maclean
7. The Young Macgregor
8. The Conundrum
9. The Inverness Gathering
10. Colin Thomson
11. Doctor E.G. MacKinnon
12. Hugh Kennedy. M.A., B.Sc

1. Top of Craigvenow
2. John Roy Stewart
3. Captain Duncan McGregor
4. Tulloch Gorm
5. Arniston Castle
6. The Pipers Bonnet
7. The Caledonian Society of London
8. Inveraray Castle
9. The Ewe With The Crooked Horn
10. Hecla
11. Duncan Lamont
12. Stac Polly

1. Fiona MacLeod
2. Miss Proud
3. Johnnie MacDonald's Reel
4. Dolina MacKay
5. The Rejected Suitor
6. Thomson's Dirk
7. Willie Murray's
8. Lieutenant Colonel D.J.S. Murray
9. Sandy Cameron
10. The Cockerel in the Creel
11. The Transfusion
12. The Blackberry Bush

1. Lament for Captain MacDougall
2. Lament for the Viscount of Dundee
3. The Massacre of Glencoe (MacKay)
4. The Blind Piper's Obstinacy
5. A Flame of Wrath for Patrick Caogach
6. Lament for the Union
7. The Red Speckled Bull
8. The Battle of Waternish
9. Corienessan's Salute (Glen)
10. Lament for the Young Laird of Dungallon
11. Lord Lovat's Lament (Kilberry)
12. The Battle of Bealach nam Brog