Taking a step forward and then one step backward does not always sound like progress but it's a tactic the Whangarei and County Pipe Band hopes will get it ahead.
There were huge celebrations when the Whangarei and County Pipe Band took out the Grade Three national title in Tauranga in March this year and was promoted to Grade Two.
This achievement was met with excitement by the musicians and management of the band who immediately set to work making plans for the next competitive season.
It might have come as a surprise, then, that the first directive from Pipe Major Bain McGregor and Drum Sergeant Neil Mogey was that everyone return to the basics.
Grade Two is a fiercely competitive grade, they said, involving some well-respected bands from around New Zealand. In order to be competitive, the Whangarei and County Pipe Band needed to ensure the foundations of technique and performance were strongly established to carry the band through the Grade Two season and beyond.
Mr Mogey has spent a lot of time with his drum corps looking at the improvements needed to be competitive in Grade Two.
"We won Grade Three, which was fantastic, but we need to be focused on improving ourselves as a band and as individual musicians," Mr Mogey said.
"We need to ensure that each time we take the field to compete, we improve on our previous performances and move towards being a tighter, more cohesive musical unit.
"Winning Grade Three wasn't the end of a campaign, it was the beginning of the next journey for the band."
Mr McGregor echoes those sentiments. Future successes depend on an ongoing programme of recruitment and tuition, he said.
Between them, the two majors have decades of experience at top levels of international competition which contributes to their expert tuition of existing players and beginners alike.
So, it is with attention to the basics of excellence, that Whangarei and County Pipe Band marches forward, with their eyes on a bright musical horizon.
Anyone of any age who would like to learn bagpipes or drums can have tuition through the Whangarei and County Pipe Band. The band also welcomes non-playing members.
For more information, contact the band on firstname.lastname@example.org.