Congratulations to Rachel Hair who has been nominated in Music Tutor of the Year sponsored by Creative Scotland Youth Music Initiative in the MG ALBA Scots Trad Music Awards 2020. Vote here! Vote now!
We asked Rachel Hair the following questions.
Tell us about yourself
I’m a Scottish harpist originally from the Highlands but now based in Glasgow. In my “Normal life” (what’s normal life now eh?!) I split my career touring the world both as a soloist and with guitarist Ron Jappy, and teaching Scottish harp throughout the world, weekly in Scotland and monthly on the Isle of Man and in the Netherlands.
I’ve recently embraced online life and have been connecting with harpists throughout the world through my YouTube series ‘HARP at HOME with Rachel Hair’. I teach my favourite tunes, talk about the history and stories behind them and (my favourite part) have a “blether” to camera at the end with a cuppa!
Why are you involved in Scottish music?
Scottish music has always been part of my life, having been brought up in the Highlands and learning my craft through the wonderful work of Fèis Rois. I simply love that Scottish music isn’t just about the music, it’s about the culture, the history and stories that go along with the tunes. I’m passionate about passing these on to those who learn with me.
Any particular career highlights?
You know, I’ve been lucky enough to play and teach all over the world, but I’ve got to say some of the most rewarding parts of my career haven’t been down to what I’ve done but well, down to what my students have done – those “proud teacher” moments, and 2 in particular stick out.
I’ve been teaching monthly on the Isle of Man for nearly 10 years and in 2018 my student Mera Royle won the BBC Radio 2 Folk Award. I was so proud of her. I was at the Edinburgh International Harp Festival when I heard, and what was even lovelier was that my ex-teacher Corrina Hewat was with me, and also her ex-teacher Máire Ní Chathasaigh – Mera’s teacher, grand-teacher and great-grand-teacher all together!
The year after I graduated I started teaching a wee curly haired lad from a village on the outskirts of Glasgow. He’d never learnt harp and he was one of those kids with ants in his pants! I’ll never forgot the moment when the lightbulb was switched on in his lesson and he suddenly got what trad music and harping was about!
Neil Wood just this year graduated from studying trad music at the RCS and is now doing a research degree there. I’m crazy proud that this lad is so passionate about the Scottish harping and I love that he’s now a colleague of mine and is inspiring his own students with his playing. Go Neil!
What are your plans for the future?
Well, this weekend I’m teaching workshops in Ireland and the USA from Scotland… not surprisingly on Zoom! I’m loving that I’m still about to teach when stuck at home, and I’m so grateful for so many festivals and organisations throughout the world who’ve been getting in contact with me and asking me to teach.
I’m also going to be filming a third HARP at HOME YouTube series, so it’s all go with trying to decide what tunes to teach for that!
Next year I should have been out teaching in the US and Europe, so well, we’ll see if that’s in person or online.
The MG ALBA Scots Trad Music Awards, Na Trads 2020, will be broadcast on BBC ALBA on 12th December 2020 at 9pm where the award winners will be announced along with specially recorded music performances. During the day on Saturday the 12th, you will be able to watch from 1pm til 9pm a day of live Scottish trad music including Kinnaris Quintet, Dallahan, Inyal, Paul McKenna Band, Ryan Young and Jenn Butterworth and many more here https://youtu.be/amByvVzxl5E. Keep up to date with all the latest information by joining the Hands Up for Trad newsletter at https://handsup.link/Newsletter or use the hashtags #natrads #HUFTonline.
If you would like to support Hands Up for Trad in their work with Scottish trad music and musicians please consider supporting our Patreon campaign. We have 3 tiers starting at $1 a month and everything helps support us in our work. Read more at www.patreon.com/handsupfortrad