Brian, that statement I can completely appreciate and whole heartedly agree with (from personal experiences of my own!)
Dennis is a unique friend of mine and has helped me many times, as well as crush my feeble spirits thru superior performances just as frequently < LOL! >. He's a fun leader on the quickly-assembled team line-ups and a hoot as my crew in Freestyle/OIOU. He's my mortal enemy in quad-line pairs, precision, ballet. We ride each other like ponies with lively comments!
One time at an outer banks workshop or quad-line clinic, whatever!,... the point is we asked him to instruct us on how to properly assemble choreography. He said three words,... "know your music" What? That's it? That doesn't help a soul flier. I have to improvise quickly responding to music I'm hearing for the first time. I don't know what's coming next or how long that musical burst will last. I need help from the sound tent managing the song's length. MY peers and the judges at least suspect I'm pulling it out off my tail-feathers as we go along.
That is exactly the secret to enjoying yourself (in my opinion) over a long hall. You make it up and are witness to how things come out. You might win or get creamed, but you don't fret or frown on the traveling trip. You pick music (or it's picked for you, mystery ballet!) standing on the field.
You've notice how many "greats" have come and gone? From builders & pilots, to the true innovators. The worked on their craft to master it, then got burned out and vanished. I always feel like it's my first time and I can't believe how cool this stuff is. I'm not at work, I'm jacking around with everyone watching me. There's no pressure, whatever happens I'll be back! It's not about winning, it's about making sure that smile never departs from my own face.
John Barresi and I used to laugh,... I was a kite builder, fiiddler and he flew precision figures, now we have switched sides. I haven't built since Bazzer and Shook came on board as Rev associates, but I do actually go out with a purpose to practice precision figures. Who would have ever thought our interests would reverse to this degree?! I hate precision, but if you don't fly it you're stuck judging and I'd really hate to see the end of competition, for all of it's woes. I do it just so it survives and I get to see some old friends every few months or so. We came up thru the ranks together. I've been in "masters" since '04 and probably haven't won (the only event a care about is MMB) twice in that decade.
Lots of my brothers & sisters on the competition circuit are all gone now. But I can usually look forward to see "the smith".
I'll get the luggage Dennis, (at least until I can beat you, and as a soul flier too!)
Back on topic, this is about pairs advise.
Go find someone and make them fly with you, drive hours each way if you have to, it's worth it. The fun, the knowledge, the technology, the friendships shared,.... honestly it more fun than is legal in this country!