Category Archives: Citizenship

We are Macmillan

I’m just back from what has now become an annual East Lothian charity event, organised by our very own Maxine Wilson on behalf of Macmillan Cancer Support. Instrumental Instructors in East Lothian schools put forward soloists and small groups for two (different) programmes. Tonight’s – the first of two – was sold out. I had two hats this evening: one as accompanist for former NBHS singer, Zoe Moskal-Guy, and the other directing a small group of MGS guitarists.

By coincidence, I sent off today the master of Love Burns – an album featuring Zoe and me, along with some very special guests. In a few weeks 1,000 copies will be delivered and the website www.loveburns.co.uk will go live. Watch this space…

Playing with the small MGS group (7 pupils) was a treat. We played a piece which we aired in 2010’s East Lothian Showcase Concert – that time with a much bigger group – around 40 players. With only 7, everyone can hear one another and it’s possible to play in a much freer way, without the necessity of a rigid beat to keep together. I was extremely proud of their sensitive performance – and grateful to all for cheerfully giving up their evening for this worthy cause. Many thanks to all involved.

This was the 2nd nice event of the week, coming a few days after Sunday’s ELjam Showcase Concert in the Brunton Theatre. It’s nice to see pupils (and staff) from across the county coming together in such positive settings.

European Day of Languages

Tomorrow (Mon 26 Sept) is European Day of Languages. Like all Mondays I’ll be spending it in two primary schools. A really good way to involve pupils, without major distraction from the task in hand, is to have them ‘count in’ the tunes in a variety of languages. This table is very helpful. Handy time-saving hint to avoid lengthy scrolling, for those not already addicted to keyboard short-cuts:

  1. Control+F
  2. Type the name of the language you want in the search box which should appear at the top-right of the screen

Fight Poverty – Young People’s Song Writing Competition

Short notice, I know, but this just came in today. If you are a young song writer, feel strongly about world poverty, can work quickly then why not consider entering this competition. The deadline is 30 September, therefore I would recommend avoiding complex multi-tracked ideas and opting for a simpler format e.g. self-accompanied singer/songwriter or just a couple of people – voice(s) & piano/guitar. Video entry is the preferred entry format (uploaded you YouTube) and East Lothian schools are well equipped with Flip Video Cameras – intuitive to use – it’s impossible to go wrong. If you are interested and have questions, get back to me on the Any Questions page and I’ll do my best to help out.

The competition is being mounted by Fight Poverty. General details of the competition are here . Details of how to enter are here. Info on prizes can be found here.

Aspire

Last year I took part in the Aspire Channel Swim and was very touched by the generosity of sponsors. Rather than simply repeat the event I plan to finish the 1416 lengths in 4 weeks instead of the scheduled 12 weeks i.e. 60 lengths-a-day, 6 days-a-week.

Starting next Monday, I hope to finish just in time for the October holiday. If you feel at all inclined to support this event, then why not visit my Just Giving page? Thanks in advance 🙂

Here is a snap taken early one morning outside Portobello Baths during last year’s event:

Commonwealth Forestry Conference

Yesterday I accompanied a small group of NBHS pupils to the 18th Commonwealth Forestry Conference held in the Edinburgh International Conference Centre (EICC). This short promotional video gives some idea of what the conference is about:[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/C4c7_WlS33E?rel=0" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

Our remit was to round the opening ceremony with some culture of the host country and we performed four songs by Robert Burns. As a result of various trips we were reduced to a skeleton crew (4 missing from a group of 7 seniors) and I was really impressed with the pupils’ ability to cope with the extra pressure – not the least of which was the jetlag experienced by one pupils who had returned from a school trip to China the previous evening! This pressure was in no small way reduced by the quiet, friendly and assured professionalism of the EICC team who were fantastic. The sound in the venue was clear as a bell and it was a pleasure to play there.

The Lea Rig:[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/JjBNj8iFDZ0?rel=0" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

John Anderson My Jo; Ca’ The Yowes; The Deil’s Awa’ Wi’ The Excise Man:[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/Vwtw7grxU8s?rel=0" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

Many thanks to Libby Jones for inviting us to play and to Caroline Davis for minibus driving, filming, recording and general joie de vivre.

Thanks also to Zoë (vocals) who, in her last two years of life at NBHS, transformed the life of the senior Guitar Ensemble members. In that time we’ve done more gigs in and out of school than one could ever have imagined. We’d all like to wish her luck with her musical future.

NBHS Malawi Trip

This time next week pupils from NBHS set off for Malawi on a life changing trip. A small part of the plan is to take a bunch of penny whistles along, play some tunes, teach them to peers over there and leave the whistles behind. The whistles, along with other instruments such as fiddle, guitar, will be used to demonstrate ceilidh dances – a feature in which NBHS is very strong.

There are play-along midi files and pdf scores of some Scottish tunes here for pupils to hone their tin whistle skills.

I’d like to wish everyone well for the trip and look forward to hearing their tales next session.

Stand Up For Scottish Education

This short film, made in North Berwick High School, is a late contribution to Don Ledingham‘s series, Speak Up For Scottish Education:

[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/8EtykOnn5HE?rel=0" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

NBHS Spring Concert 2010

Although the end of term finished, somewhat frustratingly, with the Knox Spring Concert having to be postponed* due to weather conditions, the NBHS Spring Concert was a great success.

The Guitar Ensemble opened their set with Choro: choro (right-click red link to download)

Then Zoe, who has worked with us extensively over the last two years, joined us for two songs by Robert Burns:

The Lea Rig (some mic noise interrupted Verse 1 and so this fades in at Verse 2): the-lea-rig1 (right-click red link to download)

The Deil’s Awa’: the-deils-awa (right-click red link to download)

Although public, in-school engagements are pretty much over for NBHS pupils this term, we are hoping to represent the school at the 18th Commonwealth Forestry Conference on 28 June. Performing music of the host country at this event would be a great honour for us in addition to being a great end to the school year.

* the Knox Spring Concert has been rescheduled and will take place at 19:00 on Tuesday 20 Apr – the day we return to school