Scottish Highland Games and Festivals are a tradition that arrived in North America with the many Scottish Immigrants over the last 100 years. Today, they are the events throughout the country that promote the traditional Scottish Arts and provide the venue for these artforms to foster through performance and competition. Among the various Scottish Arts represented at these events, the ones closest to my heart are bagpiping, drumming, and the pipe bands.
The Chicago Highland Games have been around for decades, but over the last 5 or 6 years, the event has had a resurgence through new support from the committee. The Chicago Highland Games, on the third weekend of June, is currently boasting as the largest event in North America for pipe bands. This year’s registration shows 48 pipe bands have signed up, traveling in for the major event from all over North America. This year, three of the bands traveling in for the event are from the City of Dunedin, Florida. We have a grade 4, grade 3, and grade 1 band, comprising over 75 band members that will represent our community at the Chicago Highland Games Pipe Band championship in a few weeks.
To prepare for this trip and major competition, there is a lot of rehearsal work happening right now in Dunedin. Attendance is up at our weekly rehearsals and duration of those sessions is increasing. There are several Dunedin High School students who have joined the City of Dunedin grade 3 and grade 4 bands to bolster the ranks for this trip, and will gain great experiences. A few weeks ago, the grade 1 band had an intense practice weekend that began on Thursday and finished Sunday afternoon. Each day there was a full-band rehearsal, with many hours of extra small-group practice in between. This makes for an extremely tiring, but very productive 4-day session. As the standard of play increases during those rehearsals, so does the intensity and necessary level of focus and attention to detail required, as the band strives to achieve our best possible standard of performance.
For me, these sessions of hard and focused work are a lot of fun and make the result of the final performance on the competition field all the more meaningful and rewarding.