I've been thinking for a wee while the dilemma we as pipers have when it comes to lists and own choice competitions. Often there is an argument to be made that an own choice competition highlights the best of a player and lets them play tunes they are most comfortable with, without having to learn tunes they may not be able to associate themselves with or really get stuck into.
Having said that, some incredibly musical tunes have been set in the past few years in both the Clasp and Gold Medal lists, and some of the performances have been very very good. And there is the obvious argument, made by Murray Henderson in his Piper and Drummer interview, that we are inherently lazy musicians and lists focus us and give us something to work from. I know of a few last year in our very own Gold Medal that struggled with the 4 own choice, simply because they left it too late to learn the tunes and to fashion up an excuse!
But should we, as an art form, be restricting ourselves to learning 3/4 tunes from a list of 6/8 each year for the purposes of a competition? Would it not make more sense if we were to expect more, but be open with the sources? Or even go down a different path and, instead of picking 6/8 tunes to be on the list, prescribe a particular Canntaireachd or manuscript that is perhaps not as well known as the traditional PS/Killberry.