The aim of the Hands Up for Trad Community Music awards is to showcase and celebrate the outstanding practice and great things going on in Scotland’s community music sector to the wider public and media.
Congratulations to Bob Massie who have been nominated in the Community Music Teacher of the Year category. We asked them the following questions.
Tell us more about yourself.
I am a retired harbourmaster and harbour manager, and I was brought up in Peterhead, and eventually left there in 1979 to live initially in Kinlochbervie, Sutherland, moving to Fortrose in the Black Isle in 1990. I am 65 years old, and have been firstly playing and and subsequently teaching traditional music for over 50 years. I was a founder member of the Lochinver Ceilidh Band, and was proud to play a number of fund-raisers for the Assynt Crofters’ buy-out. I also played in the Kerry Blues, an Easter Ross band with Mike and Melanie Simpson and my daughter Anna, and still enjoy playing in a popular ceilidh band at functions throughout the Highlands.
How long have you or your group organisation been involved in this work and tell us a wee bit about how it all started?
Over the past twenty-five years I have enjoyed teaching guitar and mandolin in both children’s and adults’ classes at various Feisian all over the Highlands, including Feis Chataibh, Feis Rois, Feis a Bhaile and Feis Inbhir Nairn. I also teach guitar and group-work at weekly Feis Rois classes for children in both Fortrose and Muir of Ord. In addition I teach mandolin to adults at Tulloch Castle in Dingwall. I also lead a session at the same venue after the classes. This session began as a Lifelong Learning initiative through Feis Rois around ten years ago, and was targeted at adults who played traditional music, but never really got the chance to play with other musicians. This has been extremely successful, to the point that the musicians have formed their own group and go out playing to mainly US eco-tourists. In addition, I am involved with leading a session at Hootenanny’s pub in Inverness, and have been involved in this for around 15 years. I have also tutored for the Scottish Government sponsored Youth Music Initiative, more or less since its inception, travelling all over the Highlands delivering this invaluable service. It is very sad to realise that,given the cutbacks in education, particularly in the music field, for some pupils, YMI might be their only musical outlet.
What have you or your group/organisation got planned for the next 12 months?
I hope to continue with Feis work and the various classes that I am involved with, and also continue with the Tulloch Castle sessions in Dingwall, and I hope that the YMI initiative will be saved from further cutbacks.
What has been the highlight of your or your group/organisation’s experience to date?
I have had many highlights over the years – teaching at the adult Feis in Ullapool, with the mighty craic that you get over that wonderful weekend May, is superb.
I recently had the privilege of tutoring YMI at Scoraig School in Wester Ross. There is no road to the community, and the only ways in are trekking overland for around 8 miles, or getting a boat from the other side of Little Loch Broom, then walking about a mile uphill to the school. I had recently had a knee replacement, and wasn’t really fit enough for the walk, so one of the parents hitched a trailer to his quad bike, and I put half a dozen ukuleles in the trailer, and I got on as pillion passenger. He forgot to secure the door at the back, and we lost – temporarily – half of the instruments. The following week, Rachael Duff, the Feis Rois organiser for YMI came up with me, and she went pillion, and I travelled in the trailer. Happy times!
Another highlight is the Feis Chataibh week in Golspie – always the first week of the summer holidays. I’ve been fortunate enough to be involved in this for around twenty five years. On top of the enthusiasm of the children, the hospitality shown to the tutors is phenomenal, including freshly made pancakes and 2 kinds of home-made soup. Thanks to Elma Mackay and her team!
And I’ll never forget the privilege of being invited to the Trad Awards in Dundee when Feis Rois was honoured with the Community Project Awards for its Lifelong Learning Project. Well done to that inspirational team.
How does it feel to be nominated for this award?
The nomination came totally out of the blue and took me by complete surprise – and if I win this award I’ll be even more surprised!
It’s an absolute honour to be considered and thank you so much for putting my name forward.
Read more about Bob Massie at their website
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