Thursday, 23 January 2014

For The Musicians Amongst You!

One of the great things about the north of Scotland is the breadth of activities on offer outside medicine. Here is a short piece from Tim Jones - who, when he is not playing music, is Training Programme Director for the Grampian programme.

Taking part - getting involved in Scottish Traditional Music.

As a contribution to this blog and to illustrate the sort of activity that’s possible to get involved in when you’re not working in this part of the world – I agreed to share some of my experiences from getting involved with playing Scottish Traditional music – (although a good number of Irish & American tunes get played as well).

I have something in common with many other doctors - I learnt to play the violin at school and, sadly like many others, I didn’t continue to play after I left school - pressures of study and work got in the way.

However - some years ago I found myself in a music class again - this time with my mandolin. It was going well - and then I made a mistake. At that point something very unexpected happened - I was enveloped in good natured giggling and advised I was only one note away from a rather good harmony. This was very different and a lot more fun than I had ever had at school - and from there I've not really looked back.

Now I’m playing on a regular basis with a ceilidh band, performing at small gigs and when I’ve time I get out to more informal sessions in pubs in and around Aberdeen. I have a collection of musical instruments that are great fun to play and equally fun to find and buy - and have just produced my first CD with the band.

Alongside the good humour which prevails in playing traditional music the other big difference from my previous experiences of playing music is that most of the tunes can be enjoyed for their (apparent) simplicity. This means that no matter your standard there’s tune to be had, although there is also a hidden complexity which means there’s always scope for going further and getting even better. Scottish Traditional music can trace its origins to dance music - the majority of tunes are jigs, reels and waltzes. However another huge influence on the repertoire is the music written for bagpipes and many a popular session tune can be heard as it was originally intended as a pipe band marches past.

Getting involved in playing Traditional music can initially take some courage - which when you start having fun never ends up having been that necessary - and you gain a lot in terms of enjoyment, good friends and confidence in performing - people really do enjoy hearing live music and want you to do well. Popular instruments are the fiddle, whistle & guitar - but there’s room for others - even banjos!

There are a number of organisations catering for those keen to try their hand - locally I would recommend SC&T who have their base in Aberdeen. The Traditional Music Forum has other options within its web pages – and if you don’t fancy playing but you do fancy a good ceilidh – there’s a band out there just waiting for your phone call - see below for links.

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