Pipe bands primed for contest
Excitement is at fever pitch as South Canterbury musicians count down to the New Zealand and South Pacific Pipe Band Championships in Timaru this weekend.
Three bands representing South Canterbury, with a combined 60 members, are competing, as well as bands from Temuka, Mackenzie and Waimate.
The Temuka Pipe Band is hoping to win its grade 2 category (grade 1 is the highest), having many experienced members.
Tenor drummer Heather Elwood has been playing for 37 years, while three of the other drummers - Kathryn Corry, Esther Luscombe and drum sergeant Scott Graveston - each have 16 years' playing experience.
Mr Graveston started lessons when he was 8.
"It is good fun but takes plenty to learn."
He has written the drum scores to accompany the band's pipers.
Though the notations only took up to a week each to write, it took about four weeks' practice to get the individual scores to a decent level, he said. The drummers memorise the beats once they have been learnt.
Mrs Elwood said she was looking forward to the weekend and especially the support from their home crowd. She said employers had been helpful in allowing band members to have time off to practise this week.
To calm any nerves, her self-talk on stage is: "I'm only on for five minutes so I will play the best that I possibly can."
South Canterbury Highland Pipe Band pipe major Scott Shannon said his band had put in "massive preparation" for the national event over the last year.
"It is an opportunity to show locals how well we can perform."
Fifty-five bands from New Zealand and two from Australia - totalling 1500 musicians - will compete on Saturday and Sunday at Alpine Energy Stadium.
There will also be parades and marches along Stafford St on Sunday.
- © Fairfax NZ News