Lochgoilhead Fiddle Workshop (at Strachur) are the twentieth recipients of Hands Up for Trad’s Business Limelight Award. The “Limelight’s” are a monthly initiative (launched in October 2012) that recognises the outstanding contributions made by businesses and organisations who contribute, shape and influence the arts and cultural sector in Scotland today. Lochgoilhead Fiddle Workshop (at Strachur) are a fiddle workshop who do a great job of organising fiddle classes 26 weeks a year in their community.
We asked Alison Duncan of Lochgoilhead Fiddle Workshop (at Strachur) the following questions.
What is your principal company activity?
Lochgoilhead Fiddle Workshop (based in Strachur) organises classes for adults and children (from the age of 7) to learn to play Scottish Fiddle traditionally, by ear. We currently offer four adult and two junior weekly classes over 26 weeks between September and June, providing employment for one tutor (currently Siobhan Anderson)
When and where did the company first start trading?
LFW began in Lochgoilhead in 2002, with practical start-up assistance from Glasgow Fiddle Workshop. The classes were moved to the village of Strachur in 2007, as it is more central to our catchment area of Cowal and mid-Argyll. The committee at that time had begun to run a wide range of events in addition to the workshop classes (schools programme, concert series, tours, junior feis) all of which were grant-aided / funded, and effectively as two organisations. In 2010 the two groups formally separated and the current committee took over running the original LFW, which reverted to being a teaching workshop, self-funded, with occasional small grants for one-off additional events.
What made you want to work in Scottish culture?
Originally inspired by GFW, the aim of LFW was to offer those living in a rural area access to tuition in traditional fiddle playing in their own community. The workshop continues to enable and encourage participation via free ‘come-and-try’ events, loan of fiddles, and where appropriate, reduced fees. We encourage our members to participate in local events throughout the area, both to build their confidence and to share their music with the community.
Can you tell us of any particular company highlights?
LFW celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2012 with two one-day workshops, each followed by a concert/ceilidh dance, in June and November. The June workshop featured Amy Geddes, Fiona Dalgetty and Mike Vass, as well as Rona Wilkie the young traditional musician of the year – who is from Argyll They made a great ceilidh band! In November 2012 we hosted a second celebration mixed instrument workshop with tutors Bruce MacGregor, Matheu Watson and Christine Hanson who all played in the evening family ceilidh. Bruce MacGregor was commissioned to compose a commemorative tune which we named ‘Stra-chur‘(Valley of the Heron) – it is now our workshop tune!
We held an excellent one day workshop with Jamie Smith last year.
In February 2014 the workshop was fortunate in securing one year of funding from Awards for All Scotland to enable us to establish a Traditional Fiddle Class for children. This has proved a great success.
In April 2014 we liaised with Dougie Pincock of Plockton School of Music and hosted a concert in Strachur featuring the S6 students from the National Centre of Excellence in Traditional Music, Plockton. The visit to the area of these talented young musicians, which included workshops in local schools, was inspirational. Our new juniors did ‘turns’ after only three months of tuition!
What are your company’s plans for the future?
Publication of LFW 10th Anniversary Tune-book in autumn – in time for our 12th birthday! The book, suggested by Mike Vass, includes some of the tunes taught or composed by our main tutors (Amy Geddes, Anna Wendy Stevenson, Fiona Dalgetty, Sarah Naylor, Mike Vass and Siobhan Anderson) as well as others written by local composers and /or about the Cowal / mid-Argyll area.
Junior Classes – we now plan to keep these classes running for the rest of this session and if there is sufficient interest next year the Junior Classes will remain a feature of LFW at Strachur
We are very fortunate in having had two members who are luthiers, previously Brian and now John. Our workshop fiddles are regularly maintained, occasional ‘hands-on’ sessions are offered for players wishing to develop the skills to look after the basics of their own fiddles and members wishing to buy or sell their own fiddle are given advice. (John also repairs guitars and makes mandolins by commission)
Planning to host a couple of Saturday or Sunday workshops in early summer and autumn.
Continuing to develop our website under the guidance of the designer, LFW member Sabine Weiten
We will endeavour to continue to be self-funding, not reliant on grants for our day-to-day existence.
How will you celebrate receiving Hands Up for Trad’s Business Limelight award?
We are amazed and delighted to receive this award! Thank you for the opportunity to tell everyone about our enthusiastic tutors who cheerfully travel by the Rest-and-Be-Thankful or Western Ferries to tutor us in Strachur; our dedicated class members who journey from Dunoon, Tighnabruaich, Lochgoilhead, Inveraray, Lochgilphead and places in between to play their fiddles; and thank you to our hard-working committee – and non-committee members – who keep the workshop running smoothly. We have two events coming up in March so will use each of them to congratulate ourselves!
18th March: Junior classes mini-concert and presentations of ceilidh book / certificate on completion of their Awards for All year of tuition. – and an orange juice toast to our new status for the month of March!
21st March: LFW members are performing in the Memorial Hall along with all other hall user groups at a community fundraising concert – we’ll announce our award there as well as in the Strachur News community magazine and of course our local newspaper The Dunoon Observer!
Contact Lochgoilhead Fiddle Workshop (at Strachur)
Evie Campbell LFW Secretary