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Competing Pipers Questions, issues, or discussions specifically related to Piping and Pipers competition.

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Old 05-09-2019, 09:59 PM   #1
Peter.Bailey.Bagpiper
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Default Learning to march

Hey all!

I'll be attending my first solo competition in about 4 weeks time. I feel pretty good with my material but two of the events are marches - 2/4 and 6/8.

I've found that I struggle with the marching that is expected by the judges for these events. I'm practicing as much as I can but sometimes it feels just plain awkward, like my steps are too small or too big - or my foot will lift off at the right time, but not land on the beat. Sometimes I concentrate too much on what my feet are doing and I make a note error.

Part of the challenge is the tempos. I march with my band all the time but that's at 75bpm and up - for these tunes I'm looking at upper 50s for the 2/4 and upper 60s for the 6/8. The constant stop/start is part of the trouble too, I think.

Other than just "practice more" are there any tips or tricks for these slow marching patterns that alleviate either awkward steps, or concentration breaks in the playing itself?
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Old 05-10-2019, 04:02 AM   #2
John McCain
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Default Re: Learning to march

Take off your left shoe while practicing
Sing the tune while marching

Tip: Few judges expect marching back and forth during the whole tune. On un-level ground, I've marched 1/2 of one part and then marched in place.
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Old 05-10-2019, 06:55 AM   #3
Patrick McLaurin
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Default Re: Learning to march

I imagine you know this but you spend half (or more) of your time marking time as you turn around going back and forth. Also, just walk; some people try to get fancy and it looks a little silly. Amble even, should help with the slower tempo if you change your perspective away from marching.
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Old 05-10-2019, 07:24 AM   #4
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Default Re: Learning to march

Quote:
Originally Posted by Patrick McLaurin View Post
I imagine you know this but you spend half (or more) of your time marking time as you turn around going back and forth.
I have seen many do that, timing their march so they get across the boards in 4 bars (or so), then turn for 4 bars, then step off on the repeat/next part..

I distinctly recall my instructor saying "don't do that- you never know when the space you are giving won't time out that way, plus its called a 'march' not a 'march in place'"..

-Matthew
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Old 05-10-2019, 07:30 AM   #5
Patrick McLaurin
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Default Re: Learning to march

Hi Matt,

I don’t stick to a parts based scheme (that I know of), that’s one more thing to think about. I used to but decided it’s not worth the effort. I decided I’d rather focus on the music.

Mark time rotating at whatever pace comes natural, otherwise it’s one more thing to think about.

And really, the 8-foot wide judges tent will never be conducive to spending much time moving anyway.
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Old 05-10-2019, 07:56 AM   #6
Jim Fogelman
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Default Re: Learning to march

It'll also help if you visualize the judge there.

I always start with the judge (real or imaginary) on my left side and turn toward the judge, this makes my last turn toward the judge as I'm finishing the tune with my drones away from the judge and s/he doesn't get a blast of drones at the last part.

Don't know if that actually makes a difference, but it helps me.
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Old 05-10-2019, 08:21 AM   #7
3D Piper
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Default Re: Learning to march

Quote:
I decided Id rather focus on the music. Mark time rotating at whatever pace comes natural, otherwise its one more thing to think about.
I agree, everything should feel natural and flow well. Not labored and stuttered and out of breath and janky.


Quote:
Take off your left shoe while practicing
Sing the tune while marching
Also very good advice!

Maybe try marching in a long wide circle to just get used to marching to the tune before even worrying about turning..? If you aren't confident with the tune, thinking about turning can throw you off..

I'm starting to think that '7 years of learning' thing has merit- you just get more comfortable and confident the more you do it

-Matthew
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Old 05-10-2019, 08:51 AM   #8
Peter.Bailey.Bagpiper
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Default Re: Learning to march

Quote:
Originally Posted by John McCain View Post
Take off your left shoe while practicing
Ok - interesting - what's the goal here? Put me off balance?

In terms of the "back and forth" my current practice is

- 4 beats forward
- 4 beats marking time
- 4-6 beats turning
- 2-4 beats marking time
- repeat
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Old 05-10-2019, 09:07 AM   #9
3D Piper
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Default Re: Learning to march

Quote:
Originally Posted by Peter.Bailey.Bagpiper View Post
Ok - interesting - what's the goal here? Put me off balance?
haha
No, John is talking about emphasizing the left foot (which should usually be beat 1 of each bar in a 2/4 or 6/8) to help emphasize the stronger beat placement..

When teaching kids how to march, I have even gone so far as to put a bottle cap under everyone's left heel..!

Quote:
In terms of the "back and forth" my current practice is
arg! too much thinking..
Like Patrick says, just play!
Like John says, sing it!
Relax! (the biggest advice I can give!)

all my humble opinion, I'm sure others much more qualified will chime in

-Matthew
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Old 05-10-2019, 10:09 AM   #10
BGP
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Default Re: Learning to march

Quote:
Originally Posted by Peter.Bailey.Bagpiper View Post
Ok - interesting - what's the goal here? Put me off balance?

In terms of the "back and forth" my current practice is

- 4 beats forward
- 4 beats marking time
- 4-6 beats turning
- 2-4 beats marking time
- repeat
I feel that's too much detail, you want to be thinking about the marching as little as possible.

I suggest starting with PC and setting a metronome and tapping the appropriate foot at the appropriate place. Then transition to playing on the pipes and just marking time. then just Marching. then randomly transitioning between the 2... at least that's how I got used to it.

I don't think most judges care much about the details on marching as long as your feet are moving.
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