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Saturday June 18th 2005

Glasgow Fiddle Workshop June Jam '05

The Glasgow Fiddle Workshop has an annual day of workshops called the June Jam. This year I was asked to run it, and so on Saturday morning first thing I arrived at the venue. There were twenty five people booked for the event, with two tutors, myself and Anna Massie, a very talented young musician from the Lossiemouth/Lochinvar area. I decided to split into two groups, Anna taking one, me the other, and this worked out well for the day. We had originally thought of swapping groups at some point, just to give a fresh pair of ears, but in the end we each stuck to the same lot.

The event was a mixed instrument workshop, and I started off my having a discussion about arrangement in a mixed instrument setting. The idea, I hoped, would be to learn 2 or 3 tunes, work them into a set and then an arrangement. There is nothing like playing music with other people, and while classes are great, working in collaboration with other instruments can be an exciting experience. So while we would suggest, encourage, hint, the final arrangement would be the result of the efforts of the group.

I taught two traditional Shetland tunes to my group, A Yowe Cam ta Wir Door Yarmin and Hamar Ower da Taing and they spent the day trying out different arrangements, weaving the available instrumentation into textured music. The last 45 minutes of the afternoon both groups gathered and heard the results of this experimentation - it was great! There was such a happy atmosphere in the hall and the music sounded terrific. Anna's group did a tune written by Mairearad Green (who plays box and border pipes in Anna's band) called Maggie West's Waltz, going into The Rights of Man and then Spootiskerry. Excellent stuff.

There was also a session in a Glasgow pub in the evening, to which about ten of the students came. Again, there was such a good atmosphere and such good music that it gave me such a fantastic feeling. At every session I go to these days I think that I'll keep a note of what's played, but when it comes to it I'm so caught up in playing music that these thought fly out the window. The majority of tunes at the session were Scottish, and because there were a couple of people there who play mostly Irish, we had a few Irish sets as well. It was thrill for me to play with Anna, and a relief that together we knew almost all of the tunes being played.

I got home to Perthshire before midnight, very happy but very tired. It had been a brilliant musical weekend and I felt I'd earned a bit of a rest.