11 January, 2017
My first update of 2017! Last time I wrote (July 2016) I had just graduated from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. For last few years I’ve been building up work, projects and contacts with the view to going full-time freelance after I graduated – an exciting but slightly scary career choice! I love having the freedom that allows me to work on lots of different musical projects, and I’m really happy to say that lots of exciting opportunities have come up and the last few months have been non-stop. I definitely hit the ground running!
In October I took up the role of Musician in Residence for the Hospital Notes project in Forth Valley Royal Hospital in Larbert, a 3-month pilot project giving regular interactive musical performances in the hospital. I worked with another musician (cello) and we performed in various wards and areas including cardiology, oncology, palliative care, mental health, stroke unit and spiritual care. One of the most important elements of our performance was the communication and interaction with patients, encouraging them to join in with us or to share their stories and memories. This was especially relevant when working in Alzheimers and dementia wards, with recent research showing that music can have a powerful effect in dementia care as it helps patients recall memories and emotions. We had some wonderful afternoons with these wards, sharing songs, stories and memories – even having mini-ceilidhs with staff and patients dancing together! The project drew to a close at Christmas but we’re hoping to secure more funding to continue our work in an extended project later this year.
In November I started the preparations for a creative learning project that will take place in schools across Ayrshire from next week. It’s a really exciting project: it aims to gather evidence on the impact of the creative arts on children’s learning, and to show teachers how creative arts can be used in the teaching of other subjects such as literacy and numeracy. I’ll be working with P4 and P5 classes and their teachers in 5 different schools over the next few months.
My private teaching started back this week after the festive holidays, and with the start of a new term I’m delighted to welcome two enthusiastic new learners. My current learners range in age from 10 to 60+, and from complete beginner to advanced level. In addition, things are getting busy again with lots of enquiries from brides getting married this year and I’m looking forward to another busy wedding season.
11 July, 2016
It’s been another busy few months since I last wrote! The biggest piece of news has to be my recent graduation from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. I’ve absolutely loved studying at the Conservatoire so I’m quite sad to leave it behind, but at the same time I’m really excited to start my adventures as a freelance musician. I’ve studied there for a total of 5 years, first gaining a Diploma in Music Education then my BA (Honours – First Class) Scottish Music degree. My graduation ceremony was last week and it was such a brilliant day – a celebration with close friends and family. It was also very exciting that David Tennant was awarded his honorary degree during the ceremony, and his words of advice to us were inspiring and realistic at the same time. I think I might be one of his biggest fans now!
There’s lots happening over the summer, and the next thing is a trip to London this week to participate in a course ‘Community Music Leadership for Peacebuilding and Social Change’ at the University of London (School of Oriental and African Studies). I’m really looking forward to it, especially since it’s led by Musicians Without Borders, a charity that works with communities suffering from the effects of war and conflict. They do some really interesting and valuable work and you can read more about their projects here: https://www.musicianswithoutborders.org/
I’m also looking forward to taking up the position of Musician in Residence for a pilot project within a NHS authority. I did a 3-month research project on performing in healthcare settings at the end of last year, which has led on to this opportunity. Part of my role will be performing (harp and voice) in different hospital wards and areas, and part will be liasing with and leading community music groups in performances. It’s a very exciting project to be involved with, especially since it’s in its early stages. I can’t wait to get started!
On a personal note, I had a brilliant wee break in Berlin just before graduation, it’s such a great city. One of my favourite moments was stumbling across a Steinway showroom, we went in to have a look and I was happily surprised when the guy who worked there said I could sit and play for a while. It was an absolute joy to play such a beautiful instrument. I’m not quite sure how much my chosen piano was (there was no price tag – never a good sign!) but I spotted a few around 100,000 Euros… a wee bit out of my budget! Another non-musical highlight of our holiday was watching the Germany v Italy game on big screens at the Brandenburg Gate with literally thousands of fans. I can’t say that I’m too interested in football usually, but it was such a great atmosphere and fun to be part of the celebrations when Germany won.
Well that’s all for just now I think… Thanks to everyone for reading and for all your likes and comments on my page, it’s really appreciated!