The Festival, the Glory, and the Bagpiper

The last competition I adjudicated was a candid shot of the entire industry of Music Education  in the US and Canada, and a polite commentary on just why music is in the midst of collapsing, totally.

I was to judge woodwinds, vocalists, and one bagpiper. The mother of the bagpiper ws my partner and guide to the procedure. This person can only be characterized  by her job in life: making sure that her son came in first place She was successful, I was, less so.
First thing,  I went to the wrong Church, taking about an extra half hour to relocate, find my room, and meet my partner. I could see  the gleam in her eye. It was as if this was her entrance into the world of big lights, bigger money, CBS, NBC, chauffeured limosines, , in short, big time show biz..
I heard flutes, saxophones,several vocalists, a small vocal group, and yes, the bagpiper.
One thinks of the hours and years of practicing, the long road to questionable success, the gorgeous pleasure of playing hundreds of concerts of chamber music, 400 people at an audition, writing hundreds, perhaps thousands of letters of application, scanning all of the trade papers for any possible position, the multitude of different instruments, setups of all kinds, the interminable search for reeds, the many joys, the sorrow at seeing your friends not getting work, the diminution of the symphony orchestras. The fiendish competition, the joy, and the sorrows, and the wonder of music , which somehow makes everything worth it.
And then, suddenly you are back to judge these children , none of whom who has a clue, and even fewer  who know what “it” is supposed to sound like.
You are momentarily a terrible snob. You think, who am I to feel superior to these poor kids? And then, there is the Bagpiper.
This is the state of music and the music business. You see and experience the abundant failures and breakdowns , the few incredible successes. But more, you understand and appreciate how lucky you’ve been.
And then, right there, you see the bagpiper. You see the glint in his mother eyes, the useless ambition, the smell of winning this two-bit festival, and the inevitable march to something less.
Stay well, and regardless, keep practicing.

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