Where are you from and how did you get into piping?
I live in Austria, in a village called Zurndorf. Before I started on the pipes, my brother already played the snare drum and one of his friends was playing the pipes. When I was 19 years old, they just decided that it would be a good idea to get me into playing. So I got a practice chanter, a beginner’s book and my brother kind of told me that I had to play the pipes.

The CLASP ‘Live Online’ results will be announced at the end of this week. How do you think you played?
I can’t tell if it was good enough for a making a place. It was only my fourth solo competition. I do have a big problem with anxiety, so it is really hard work for me. I actually thought it was my best performance so far and I don’t mind about the placing.

How has the pandemic affected your piping personally?
Because of the pandemic there were no gigs to play at, nor could we have any one-to-one practice sessions. It felt a little bit like somebody pressed the pause-button (and it still sometimes does feel like this today). But there was one good thing for me. I finished my HNC Music – Piping course during the pandemic and decided to go on with studying and started the HND-bridging course. I started the second year of my HND at the beginning of 2022.  Because I live in Austria the course is done online.

Can you describe how much you have improved as a player HNC and HND courses?
I think I have a better understanding of the instrument now, and my playing changed completely. All areas of my playing have improved, and this is why I decided to keep going with my studies and move on to the HND.   

How much time per week is spent in classes or studying/practicing for the courses?
That’s a difficult question. The HNC classes didn’t take too much time from my week. I had to practice a lot to keep up with the required standard and it took longer for me to write outcomes because of the language.

The HND course has more classes and at the moment I spend more time on practice. One reason for the extra practice is because we have to play a second instrument. I chose whistle for my second instrument and I hadn’t played it before.

What is the purpose of the HND-bridging course?
The bridging course is to close the gap between the HNC and the HND Course. To make it possible for those who have finished the HNC to improve their playing for the HND, and to gain knowledge about the music business they have to do the bridging course first.  The HNC plus the bridging course equals year one of the HND. Editor’s Note: Not everyone will need to do the Bridging Course – it’s only necessary for people who did the original HNC Music – Piping. For anyone doing the new HNC, you’re lucky – because you won’t need to do it, you’ll just be able move straight to the HND.

Can you tell me the difference you experienced between the HNC and the HND courses?
I think the HND course goes deeper into the material of music, and instruments, and the whole of the music business.

Do you have a set practice routine you could share with readers?
Right now, my rehearsal routine consists of trying to practice regularly on the practice chanter or on the bagpipes. I focus on a maximum of two areas that need practice. For example, one area could be a certain technique which is showing through all of my tunes, while the other one could be working on expression of a certain tune.

Do you recall the very first competition you competed in?
My first band competition was in 2011 with the Stockbridge Pipe Band, Edinburgh. My brother was the bass drummer with Stockbridge at that time. I got the sheet music and recordings and a few weeks later I had to play the tunes for the Pipe Major via Skype. A few more weeks later I flew to Scotland and played with Stockbridge at North Berwick. It was a great and exciting experience. I thought I could never ever be so nervous again, but I was wrong. 

In 2020 I attended my first solo competition. It was an online CLASP competition and I nearly broke down because of nervousness. My teacher had to show up cards saying, “Breathe!” and “You’re doing well” when I was recording my submission videos.

What’s your most memorable performance you’ve taken part in, either band or solo?
It was playing in the Vienna Stadthalle with the André Rieu Orchestra in 2018. I’ve long admired this orchestra. I was a member of the Caledonian Pipes and Drums of Burgenland at the time (I’m still a member, but not so active since we’ve moved), when Vienna Pipes and Drums were asked if they would play in the concert. Since there are not a lot of pipers in Austria, they asked around who would like to join. And so I did.

Vienna Pipes and Drums and the Caledonian Pipes and Drums of Burgenland with André Rieu in 2018. Anna is to André’s immediate right.

Did you take part in any shows, concerts or recitals last year?
In 2020, all Advent markets and Christmas events were cancelled due to the pandemic. However, since I don’t let the Christmas mood spoil myself and I wanted to pass this on to others, I played a total of nine little Christmas serenades in different streets of my hometown. Also, in December just gone I played again to spread the Christmas spirit.

Do you have a humorous piping anecdote you can tell the readers?
From 2006 to 2007 I was an au pair in Glasgow and during this time I played with Williamwood Pipe Band. It happened by chance that the band went to a festival in Germany that year. At the festival – dressed in Williamwood’s uniform – I was addressed several times in English and then answered in German. The reaction of the people was consistently the same: “Wow, your German is so good!”

How do you relax and do you have other interests or hobbies? 
My two other interests or hobbies are baking and my dog. I love to bake and to decorate my creations and I also love challenges. I often bake gluten-free, wheat-free, lactose-free, vegan and diabetic-friendly. Also, I attend dog training with my dog twice a week and we practice nearly every day at home. I can’t leave home without saying goodbye to everybody who’s staying home – which includes my dog and my two cats. I always calculate the time for kisses and snuggles. I actually know that some people might think this is odd, but I still do it.

•Thanks for the chat Anna!