Congratulations to Stirling Schools’ Scots Song Project who have been nominated in Community Project of the Year sponsored by Gordon Duncan Memorial Trust in the MG ALBA Scots Trad Music Awards 2014. Vote now!
We asked Carolyn Paterson of Stirling Schools’ Scots Song Project the following questions.
Tell us about yourself
The Tolbooth in Stirling is a hub for music in the Stirling area –
predominantly a music venue- with a year round programme of quality
music, with a strong focus on traditional music. In addition there is an arts programme, including trad, jazz, songwriting for young people, classes for
adults including fiddle and song, and on Saturdays the local Fèis,
Fèis Fhoirt run trad music classes in a range of instruments.
As well as with Fèis Fhoirt, we work in partnership with other
council departments and other organisations. The education
department through Creative Learning allocates funding from the Youth
Music Initiative for us to run the Stirling Schools Scots Song project.
This project was developed by Carolyn Paterson of the Tolbooth and Amy Lord from Dunblane.
This project has been running for over 6 years in Stirling primary
schools, reaching over 30 schools and now reaching over 2,000 children. Led by Amy Lord, we run a minimum of 3 blocks each school year in schools, each block consists for one session per week with 3 classes in each school culminating in the children performing their songs to friends and family in the Tolbooth, and we also bring in professional musicians to perform to the children – Paul McKenna, Siobhan Miller, Fiona Hunter amongst them. In many cases this is the first opportunity some of the children have at seeing live traditional music in a theatre/concert setting. Indeed for some it is their first taste of traditional music, and the first time they have performend in a venue.
For each school Amy prepares booklets with Scots songs relevant to the
area, the topic the class may be working on, or linking to a theme like St Andrews or Burns day. The booklet includes a glossary of Scots words from the songs so that the children get an introduction to Scots Language.
When possible, we also bring in Matthew Fitt to take one session in each
school – looking at Scots and encouraging the writing of poems in Scots. Over each session, Amy also runs a drawing competition where each
child draws a picture depicting their favourite Scots Song from the
Amy is a fine Scots singer herself. She grew up steeped in song, and
went on to study Scottish music at the then RSAMD. She has gone on to
immerse herself in song – starting up singing groups in Dunblane,
tutoring regularly for other singing groups around the country, leading singing with dementia groups in the central belt, and also taking Scots Song and language to schools across Stirling. She brings an enthusiasm and passion to her sessions, which results in children engaging and enjoying the songs, with many benefits including improving knowledge of Scottish culture, history and language.
Why are you involved in Scottish music?
The Tolbooth has always included a strong programme of Scottish music
in the programme as a key element to offer our audience – and it is very popular. We also help nurture young talent in the Stirling area, by offering learning and performance opportunities.
The Stirling Schools Scots Song Project enables us to introduce many from schools across Stirling to Scots Song, Scots language and traditional music.
Any particular career highlights?
The Muckle Scots Song – bringing together 4 schools in June 2014 – from the Bannockburn cluster to mark the 700th anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn was a highlight…
Over 350 children came together in Stirling’s Albert Halls where they sang songs and performed poetry to commemorate the battle, exactly 700 years to the day after the battle began. Art work from the project was also exhibited during the concert, showing how the children had understood and connected with their local history through music.
We connected this performance to the commission by Allan MacDonald, showing how traditional music is being composed to mark important occasions to this day, with guests Kathleen MacInnes and piper Craig Muirhead performing music from the commission for the children.
In the run up to the performance each school benefited from a workhsop by Matthew Fitt ‘the Rhymes O’ Independence and historian Fiona Watson, talking about music used for important occasions as well as the history of the Wars of Independence
The schools which took part were Bannockburn, East Plean, Cowie and St Margarets RC, Cowie.
What are your plans for the future?
We would like to reach every primary school across Stirling – and
continue to offer Scots Song and Language to children across Stirling.
This year for 2014 we brought together 4 schools in our Muckle Song
Performance – a wish for the future would be to create a Stirling Scots Song Choir for those who may wish to continue …
Buy a ticket for the MG ALBA Scots Trad Music Awards on Saturday 13th December in Inverness Leisure, start time 7pm. You’ll have a great time!