Here’s the story about why I started the world’s first online bagpipe competition and why I’m bringing it back now.
As musicians, we’re part of a community of performers. Performing is what we do. Whether it’s a solo gig, a St. Patrick’s Day parade, a competition at the Highland Games, or just playing for friends and family — playing our music for ourselves, for each other, for our community, and for the world is a vital part of being a musician. Sharing our music with others is a huge part of the joy, inspiration, and motivation we feel to perform, practice, prepare, and strive to improve our craft and refine our art.
For over 20 years piping has been my passion and my profession — playing the pipes, teaching, developing products, and finding ways to combine tradition with technology and innovation to help pipers learn more efficiently and to find greater success, enjoyment, and fullfilment in playing music.
Several years ago, I asked myself “How can I expand the opportunity for pipers to enjoy and learn from playing in competitions, without the expense and complications of travel?” The result was the world’s first online bagpipe competition. It was similar to the competitions you are familiar with at the Highland Games, but competitors sent in videos of their performances. Our panel of world-class judges ranked the winners and gave detailed, thoughtful comments for every performance. We ran several more competitions with great success. Pipers and drummers loved it. The competition videos and judges comments have been viewed hundreds of thousands of times.
That’s why I’m pleased to announce the return of my online piping and drumming competition: The World Online Piping & Drumming Championships. I’d already been making plans to bring it back this year, and now the current situation makes it clear to me that now is the right time to come together as a community of pipers and drummers.
Just like a regular competition, you enter by choosing your events and your grade level. Just like a regular competition, you will practice and prepare to give your very best performance. However, instead of traveling somewhere to play live for a judge and audience, you’ll record your tunes at home. You can take as many tries as you need to record your performance until you feel that you’ve played your best. After submitting your videos, you will be judged by one of the best pipers or drummers in the world — World Champions, Gold Medal winners, top Pipe Majors, and soloists — who will listen and evaluate your performance and give helpful and constructive comments.
In the coming days, we will have more details on the judges, sponsors, and other information — including some other prizes that you can win, regardless of your playing ability. We’ll be sending out helpful tips on how to make the best videos possible.
Things will be different for a while, but with some creativity, we can find ways to continue to enjoy playing our instruments while connecting with and serving our community and the world around us. So, let’s come together by doing what we love to do: playing our music, sharing it with the world, keeping our spirits high, and showing that together we can make a positive difference in the world.
Stay safe. Stay healthy. And keep playing those pipes and drums. We got this.
Founder of BagpipeLessons.com and the World Online Piping & Drumming Championships
Inventor of the Tone Protector™