In a remarkable display of talent and dedication, Monash University student and Elite Student Bagpiper Ellen Ring carved a permanent mark at the World Pipeband Championships this year securing the World Champion title against 40 other bands from around the globe!
The Pipeband performed 28 shows at the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, coming out on top at the Scottish Championships and later crowned World Champions at the World Pipeband Championships.
Following her achievements, we caught up with Ellen to discuss her Bagpiping journey thus far and gleaned into her competition preparation and her highlights from Edinburgh.
Congratulations Ellen! Tell us how your journey started. When did you start doing pipeband?
I joined The Scots School Albury Pipeband in 2013 and have been involved ever since. While at school, I travelled with the band to Scotland, Jakarta and New Zealand and then returned to work as their tutor for several years. I now work as a tenor tutor at Haileybury School in Melbourne while I finish my studies.
I know you achieved great feats at the World Pipeband Championships this year. Tell us about them?
We competed in Grade 4 against 39 other bands and were crowned World Pipeband Champions, Best Drum Core and Champion of Champions. This is awarded to the band who is first overall based on results from the major competitions: British, UK, Euro, Scottish and World Champs. We actually only competed in the Scottish Champs and Worlds but because we won both we got this prize unexpectedly!
That’s fantastic to hear! What did your preparation look like for this event and what was the process like?
Preparation for the World Pipeband Championships consisted of many hours of practice. We began learning the tunes in September, a year before the competition. As the tenor tutor, I was required to attend weekly practices as well as many 3-day intensive band camps in order to teach and learn the tunes. My band played in many competitions throughout the year, including the Australian Pipeband Champs and the Victorian Champs, coming first place in both. Once in Scotland, we practised most mornings for around 2 hrs. In the week leading up to the competition we fine-tuned the instruments, making the final adjustments to ensure everything went perfectly on the day.
The preparation process was very rewarding…and very demanding! Jumping off the plane and putting our drums on for practice proved difficult. But to feel and see the improvement made it worth it.
Sounds great! How did you find performing at the Tattoo compared to doing competitions?
The tattoo is vastly different to competition. As you are part of something much bigger, there is a large focus on precision and timing. This was achieved by practicing for 14 hours a day leading up to the 28 performances. It is exhausting but one of the coolest experiences I’ve ever had! I performed with the band in the 2017 Tattoo so I knew what to expect going into it. I loved meeting new people from across the world and that exhilarating feeling when you walk through the draw bridge onto the esplanade.
When performing we generally play our competition set, crowd favourites like Scotland the Brave and We Are Australian. We then play our Drum Salute where we can show off some more challenging drumming and flourishing (flourishing is what we call when we spin the sticks around).
In all honesty, the Worlds is busy and intense and you don’t have much time to take it all in. Most other competitions you have a chance to walk around, chat with and watch other bands.
Congratulations to Ellen for her phenomenal accomplishments and we wish her the best in both her studies and future endeavours.