It used to be I dreaded getting a new reed. They were impossible to play because you had to blow so hard to make any sound come out, and it took WEEKS of constant practicing to soften them up.
I got a new reed last night. It is easier to play than my last reed. I have to relearn blowing so I don't overblow this one and squeak my low A.
We also oiled our drones. Now they are all shiny for competition. I don't know if it helps the tone quality at all, but they are shiny. The rain on Memorial weekend messed up lots of peoples' drones . . . like cup rings on wooden coffee-tables.
The latest issue (June) of the New Era, published by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for the youth, has a picture on the cover of Drew, band-mate and co-student. He was passing a copy around last night. The associated article is about him and some other pipers and drummers who spend their summers at Nauvoo, Illinois piping. In all the histories I've read and the stories I've heard, I don't recall there being much piping happening at Nauvoo in the 1840's, but hey: it makes a great article, and probably draws lots of people to the daily parades. Drew's on every page of the article. When they put that issue on their website (www.lds.org), I'll post the link.
Here's Drew's picture: http://www.lds.org/ldsorg/v/index.jsp?vgnextoid=434544f8f206c010VgnVCM1000004d82620aRCRD&locale=0&sourceId=907b144e3813a110VgnVCM100000176f620a____
and here's the article: http://www.lds.org/ldsorg/v/index.jsp?vgnextoid=024644f8f206c010VgnVCM1000004d82620aRCRD&locale=0&sourceId=00fa144e3813a110VgnVCM100000176f620a____&hideNav=1