Father and Son at the Glenfiddich Piping Championships - By Bruce Gandy
This year a very special moment in Glenfiddich history occured. For the first time a Father and Son – Bruce & Alex Gandy – were each competing for piping’s most coveted accolade.
Speaking at event last weekend, Bruce Gandy shared with us more about how he and Alex prepared for this year’s competition as well as what competing against each other really meant to them.
"Firstly let’s get it out in the open, as so many people have been asking about how it feels to be competing against each other. I can honestly – and perhaps bluntly say – that Alex and I are very close so whilst technically we are here to compete at the event, we’ve been focused on helping each other prepare.
He’s has been listening to me play, and likewise, me him. We’ve done that for years. We first ‘competed’ with each other in 2005, but Alex’s playing really came along in 2007 when he won the jigs at Oban. I came second that day, and it was a truly rewarding day for both of us.
It was also funny as we actually received notes from people – some believing that it was a sort of ‘oh no’ situation like ‘Bruce being knocked out by the kid’ to which my answer was (and remains) ‘I’ve done a pretty good job with this one, this ‘kid’!’.
Since that time in Oban we’ve competed as individuals in a number of competitions. We’re both highly competitive in nature but I try to keep that to one side in events as one thing I’ve learnt over the years - learning from my own mistakes as well as coaching others – is that trying hard to win or compete is never the answer to success.
So yes, over the last ten years, Alex and I have had lots of fun and a real good run together, and both of us taking part in the Glenfiddich will be one to remember. I also told Alex all I could about my own experiences over the years at the Glenfiddich including that in all my years there, I’ve never felt that I’ve been competing against anyone. The truth I believe is that when you are there, you are first and foremost there to play at the Glenfiddich and put on a real good show alongside other fantastic pipers.
I’ve also shared with Alex of all the stories I can remember from this competition – the rooms, the players, the incredible support you get and what the stage feels like. I really want him to feel that when he walks up to that stage, that he’s been there before. I know it doesn’t mean you play better, but it can help you feel that you are at least a bit more in control, and I hope that what I’ve shared will help Alex at the Glenfiddich as it is an incredible event. An event that will be my 13th time here competing.
My first Glenfiddich competition was in 2000. I was thankful not to draw first to play and instead I had the opportunity to watch a few pipers first before I went into that hall which really helped. I also remember being astonished by all the well wishes from all the players. I’d never experienced that in a competition before.
That sense of camaraderie perhaps makes the Glenfiddich extra special, and for any upcoming pipers – especially those lucky enough to be in Scotland – I would say that they should make every effort to go and see the event as many times as they can, especially if they have the aspiration to work hard, and one day play there. I’d also recommend studying performance in all manner of arts and sports. Spot what makes people perform at their best and practice that. I think it’s really exciting to see who - like Alex – will be next to compete at Glenfiddich over the coming years.
For now, for Alex and I anyway, we’re enjoying every moment this year. It feels like we’ve been given an incredible opportunity to each be here as father and son and we’ll make sure we each make the most of it."
Photo Credit: Derek Maxwell Photography