Countdown to Worlds begins
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The familiar skirl of the Simon Fraser University Pipe Band pipes and drums rang out across the grounds of John Fortys Court in Stirling, Scotland late Monday as members settled in for some serious practice.
"It's always a good feeling to get things started here, it gives everyone a sense of comfort and into the mindset of why we are here," says Pipe Sergeant Jack Lee.
A small crowd gathered to watch as the drum corps spent an hour in the courtyard refining its beat before the pipers even set up to play. They were sent inside half-way through when a rain cloud passed overhead.
The pipers later gathered in a parking lot across the way, the dominating William Wallace monument behind them, and concentrated on fine-tuning their instruments.
Pipe Major Terry Lee, and newly acquired Scottish piper Robert Mathieson – a former pipe major with The House of Edgar Shotts & Dykehead Pipe Band – paced the circle of pipers with tuners and listened intently for the slightest deviance.
"We've come a long way with our tuning, we continually check and refine our sound until it is as close to perfect as can be," says Lee. "That's our strength when we go into these competitions."
The SFU band is one of several staying in Stirling to practice away from the hectic pace of Glasgow, which is bustling with a week of Piping Live events leading up to the Worlds on Saturday.
The band will practice Tuesday and Wednesday and head to Glasgow Thursday for its appearance at the Clyde Auditorium's Pipes of Peace concert. They'll complete their practice schedule on Friday and take a break Friday event for their traditional band dinner.
The World Pipe Band Championships takes place on Aug. 13. The BBC will stream live the event, which begins at 2 p.m., at www.bbc.co.uk/worlds .It's not yet known when the SFU band will perform – times are determined on the Saturday morning.