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Old 02-13-2017, 03:31 PM   #16
John Blunt
Forum Gold Medal
Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: Spokane, Washington USA
Posts: 650
Default Re: Tips for maintaining concentration

Originally Posted by SquintingPatrick View Post
That can happen to the most experienced pipers. Many of us have seen top level pipers launching into the wrong tunes, or breaking down at the very start of their performances because their concentration wandered for just a split second. I remember on one such occasions, I heard the judge ask "What happened?" and the piper said "I was just thinking how nice the breeze was."

Usually when I am playing with other people, the very thought that they are all counting on me not to mess up is enough for me to give it my best concentration. While playing solo, sometimes I find myself creating mental scenarios to keep my mind focused - I am playing the strathspey and reel for some highland dancers, for example, who are dependent on me to carry through with the tune or their own performances would be ruined, or I am at the ceilidh, and people are bobbing happily around to my music, or the whole regiment is counter marching with me, alone in the lead, or I am piper MacKay outside the square, or Millin at the beach - even more people are counting on me not to mess up.

And we are not playing just any instrument, a lot of people all around can hear us very loudly. How many times have I heard people in noisy pubs hollering full throated in delighted expectation the moment they hear the drones. The moment you strike up, you've created an occasion. You've committed to a performance that requires your full attention.

Still, the best way to focus, for me, is simply to be absorbed in expressing the music, to enjoy the melody against the drones, and to really bring the music out of those notes with my fingers. When I am in the middle of all that, swept along by the emotions of it, even if it is Scots Wha Hae, there is no chance my mind can wander off to other things. The best way to focus is to be absorbed by the music, by the making of that music.

Similar thing happened to me during a competition. I was concentrating on the tune, then the voice in my head said "I wonder what kind of apples are on those trees behind the judge" and then it was all over. Crystal clean focus and an ability to quiet one's mind and stay in the moment and the music are critical, in my opinion. Being well prepared, no distractions from your instrument (another state of preparedness) and calming are all solid techniques and skills. My two cents.

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