Score Sheet Freak Out (Trust Your Teacher)

July 9, 2012 on 12:17 pm by Michael Grey | In Solo Piping, Tips | Comments Off on Score Sheet Freak Out (Trust Your Teacher)

For those of you who live in a part of the world where judges of solo piping competitions provide score or, “crit”(icism), sheets, or some kind of recorded adjudicator performance comment, you may especially relate to this …

At the moment I teach a half dozen or so people how to play the great Highland bagpipe – as I know it. Yeah, not so much in the summer, but even without the weekly teaching regimen I keep tabs on their progress around the games and dial in to their score sheets – when they’re offered up for me to have a peak.

Here’s what I found – more or less: I’m reminded that competitors, especially amateur competitors, take what a judge writes on a score sheet to heart in the biggest way. Comments from judges can occasionally out-sway anything a teacher – in this case, me – has directed. For instance, if a judge writes something like, “more pointing in the second phrase of the third part of your march is needed”, I’ve found that it is not uncommon for pupils to go nuts and go beyond what’s been directed and point the bejeezuz out of the noted phrase – because that’s what was noted on a hastily scrawled score sheet.

And one of the downsides of adjudicator sheets? I can’t say absolutely but it feels like in some cases the crit sheets provided by judges create a sort of FrankenPiper: music ends up being made outside the direction provided by the teacher and built around the synthesised feedback of ten or more judges. So we have performances adjusted to reflect the feedback of a pile of judges [random thought: a herd of cows, a parliament of owls, a flock of seagulls, a controversy of pipers … what might a group of judges be called? There must be something better around than “a pile of judges].

Judges only hear what’s played on the day – that tune with nerves, background noise and any number of distractions and challenging playing conditions. That performance may not be close to what your teacher has taught – or your best.

We need to consider the opinion offered up on score sheets. Score sheets are invaluable, by the way. But unless you have bolts at the sides of your neck and a great big scar across your forehead below your balmoral you really need to listen and trust your teacher.


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