Would you rather blow bagpipes in winter?

The winter months of December to February have never been so filled with opportunities for exposure to top quality bagpiping. The US workshop scene has always had its share of regional events that draw active players looking for tuition in the colder months. The southern and western US don’t have cold weather to deter winter bagpipers and drummers and so have a “year ‘round” bagpipe competition schedule, which seems to be catching on in the colder regions.

The solo bagpiping scene in the central and eastern US has fleshed itself out in recent years, and the winter seems to have more and more contests that brag a “special” aspect and draw the worlds top professionals and amateurs.

Winter Storm in January, The Metro Cup and Sandy Jones Invitational in February, and now Scotland’s new CLASP competitions holding a US event in February, throw a couple of more events into March and April, and you’ve got activity that could qualify as, well, a season. In fact, you might even say that the winter months stand to overshadow the traditional “season” of the summer Highland games months with more events that provide the piping boards that many active soloists wish for.

Given recent economic situations and the general “hard times” felt by many Highland games and gatherings, bagpipers and drummers and pipe bands would most certainly require alternative stages in order to stay competitively active. Intrepid sorts already seem to be doing that in the winter. What we as pipers and drummers need are similar folk to do the same in the more active summer months.

Pipe bands in the eastern US get an alternative contest field at an event like the Celtic Classic in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania in September. Top solo pipers also get a chance at an event such as the USPF in June. But what else?

Many new winter events seem to be “filling a void” in the calendar so to speak, but the real “void” is actually during the months May, June, and July where we are supposedly most active. It’s certainly great for pipers to keep your bagpipes sharp by competing at these cold weather events, but what are they keeping you sharp for exactly? To play on some dirt patch amidst oggling weekend Scots at some random games in June? Suffice it to say, the best solo bagpiping events are those events run for pipers by pipers. The time is ripe for those events to emerge on the summer calendar.

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