The night before a contest, I like to devote to taking care of my instrument, and my kit. I don’t think it’s really necessary, as I take care of my bagpipe regularly, but it puts me into the right frame of mind. Last minute tweaks of the drone reed bridals, seeing that the bag is as airtight as it can be, ensuring that the stocks and slides are nice and snug, and putting fresh tape on the chanter. Making sure I have all my maintenance supplies and spare reeds in my pipe case. Making sure my glengarry is in my pipe case. Getting any wrinkles out of my shirt, jacket, and kilt. Polishing my shoes, and ensuring my hose are clean. Flashes are in my sporran. Everything is ready to go for the next day, and the next day all I have to do is play what I have practiced.
I see so many “scramblers” on contest days. Frantic competitors that don’t know where to start. Their bagpipe is in disarray, and they have a disheveled look about them. I know, just by looking at them, that it will take a miracle for these folks to do well. They did not take care of everything that they could take care of, and they have nobody to blame but themselves for this.
When I see somebody walk in, looking smart, relaxed, and pulling an immaculate bagpipe out of their case (not from underneath a pile of unorganized music and unraveled roles of hemp), I know straight away that this person is ready. They are going about this in a professional manner. They have prepared themselves, and it will probably take a significant amount of bad luck to prevent this person from playing well.