“Don’t tell me it can’t be done, I will do it. Don’t tell me only God can help us win, I will do it.” — Tripert Singh Khalsa (Azaad)
Sharing this amazing story from Drum Sergeant Tripert Singh Khalsa (Azaad) Sri Dasmesh Pipe Band, Malaysia
Tripert Singh, Edinburgh Gurdwara, Sunday 11th August 2019
First of all, yes I just quoted myself. I did it to show you what it took. What kind of conviction it took to pull it off. How strong the dream had to be, for it to be manifested in reality.
On the 5th of January this year, I stood in front of a room full of parents and spoke for over an hour, explaining our plan and goal for the World Championships 2019. I was tasked with the job of convincing people who have never seen a bagpipe competition, that we will win the biggest one in the world. An hour later, they were ready to take the first step. The journey began.
The only way I can describe the days between that day and yesterday, is - NEVER ENDING PRACTICE AND SLEEPLESS NIGHTS. The team, consisting of our Pipe Major Tirath Singh (my baby brother), Head of Mid Section Sukhpreet Kaur and me, had to continuously come up with new ways to deliver the knowledge and tools we needed to win the Worlds. As leaders, we also had the task of keeping the dream alive, constantly reminding the band to visualize the victory. Constantly asking them to tell us WHY THEY HAVE TO WIN. I remember watching a Tony Robbins video, he said the only way to take an island is to take the army there, then burn the boats. Then there’s either victory or death, no retreat. That is the mindset we pushed the team to have. We asked them why they won’t be able to come back if they don’t win it. It was now no longer an option.
It is also important to mention, that the band made a huge effort to get everyone up to par with music theory (the ability to read and write music). This effort was lead by an amazing young lady, Roshnee Kaur Kesh. Roshnee is a super talented musician, she plays over 5 instruments and plays actively in orchestras. She single handedly prepared an entire syllabus (worksheets and exams) that was used over the last 6 months to get the band up to speed with theory. The base of all music is theory, if you cannot read and write, the road of learning any instrument becomes very very difficult to travel. She eased the preparation of the band by giving us the greatest gift of all. The amazing part is, she’s only 17!
We practiced three times a week and as you know, the band is based in Kuala Lumpur. Getting through traffic to get to practice and back can take collectively over 2 hours. Then add on practice time of 2 hours. That was over and above the daily 1 hour of practice that members had to do at home, at the end of which they had to submit a video to their section heads. That is the sacrifice that the members and their wonderful parents made to do what we did yesterday. That is what it took. Imagine trying to keep that passion and fire alive within the band with that big of a sacrifice of time!
As a leader, your team constantly looks to you for confidence and conviction. It was a question at every practice, every mamak stall lepak session, every family dinner - “Can we do it?”. My answer, and the answers of the leaders in the band was always the same - “Yes.”
At first they didn’t believe. They made silly bets like “we will march through the airport in full uniform if we win.” But slowly, it sunk in, the bets and jokes disappeared and the belief set in. It had to! They had to do the work, nobody could do it for them! They had to believe it could be done, only then it would be. We couldn’t do it for them.
I won’t lie, when we arrived in Scotland. The fear really set in. I’ve convinced all these people and flown them halfway across the world, are we going to pull this off? Then I looked across the circle and saw their faces, I believed again. Everybody was dead set, one goal. We are going to take it home.
At North Berwick, our first competition in Scotland, we played probably the best we had in the last couple of months. Just to let you know, for the majority of our 14-16 year old members, this was their first time in a competition ring. We played well and myself and the section heads were satisfied with the performance. We told ourselves, if we place today, the Worlds is a real possibility.
As we stood there for massed bands in the pouring rain, they announced the results for our and the bands name was not mentioned. My heart sank, I won’t lie. Then somebody leaned over from the LA Scott’s pipe band standing next to us and said no that’s not the open category, your results are in the next announcement. True enough, in the next announcement, we were 3rd! There was so much confusion with the rain we didn’t even celebrate. We took our results sheets and ran to the bus. I was dissatisfied. I felt the kids in the drum Corp had played exceptionally well and I was disappointed I wasn’t able to give them what I promised them, the drum Corp trophy! Whilst running back to the bus, I grabbed my brother, the Pipe Major’s arm and stopped him in the rain, and opened the sheets. DAMN! We won the drumming! With the rain coming in and with all the confusion, there had been a mistake in the announcements! We quickly made our way back to the reps of the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association and explained what had happened. They were very accommodative, they assured us that it will be corrected and the trophy will be returned to us.
We then walked back to the bus, to a group of teary eyed drummers that couldn’t understand what went wrong and announced the correction! I cannot explain the celebration that broke out. We turned the inside of that bus into a circus. It was our day. The dream is within arms reach.
The week following was packed with practices and performances. It was a game of ensuring the band had enough practice and enough rest and ensuring the two were perfectly balanced.
I first came to the worlds in 2013, with my family and my good friend Charanjiit. We attended drumming for drinks then, and he kept telling me the entire time, one day we will bring the drum Corp here and play here. I didn’t believe him. This time, it happened. The drum Corp played at D4D and it was an amazing performance. The crowd was very receptive to our drum salute. The most important thing, was the confidence that it gave our drummers. Everyone that was there patted them on the back and told them it was a great show and that they thoroughly enjoyed it. That boost was exactly what the team needed to supplement the belief that we could do it. They were over the moon! It was nearly 2 days before I stopped hearing stories from them about what people had said to them about the drum Corp after our show.
Then came the big day, the World Championships. It was a surprisingly relaxed morning when we all got dressed. The beauty of young people is that once they believe, nothing shakes that belief. A lot of the younger boys in the band came up to me and shook my hand and said congratulations. Hahaha, they were now convincing me, instead of the other way around.
The whole day went by in a couple of seconds. Before I knew it, we were parked next to Field Marshal Montgomery Pipe Band (multiple time grade 1 champions) in the massed bands. Very quickly, everything went by and it came to the announcement for the Grade 4B champion Drum Corp. When I first heard our name, I couldn’t believe it. I turned to Paramveer that was standing next to me and we both hugged and screamed. I quickly made my way through the band and up to the stage and halfway up to the stage, they announced the first place for overall band, SRI DASMESH! I stopped, turned around and dashed back to the band! The whole front line of grade 1 pipers burst out laughing hahaha. I jumped into a huge group hug of teary band members all just screaming their lungs out. My brother and me then walked up to the stage and collected the trophies the band had just earned.
The dream, had just been realized.
The reason I tell you this story, is not to gloat, or to beat our chest. The reason I tell you this story is to tell you that anyone, from anywhere, can dream and achieve those dreams.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone, the members, their parents, the tutors, the leaders, everyone that made this dream come true. All of you were just as important as the other in this victory. I salute you.
To the Malaysian youth
Go out there. Be who and what you want to be.
Dear Malaysia, this is our gift to you for Merdeka.
Drum Sergeant Tripert Singh Khalsa
Sri Dasmesh Pipe Band