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Scottish and Celtic Music Discussion
What's going on at the RSAMD? Why the active education of young people in traditional music is important.
Posts: 334
Posted: 29-Jan-2008 11:30
In the context of the RSAMD debate, I have been thinking about some broader issues.

1. The influence of other sorts of music is far more pervasive, perhaps because trad music is for some reason not seen as sexy. Traditional music is not seen as relevant to current times, compared with, for example, the street world of American Hip Hop culture (and I’ve probably used an out-of-date analogy, being of an age where I am terminally uncool …)

2. Most of us nowadays do not have the good fortune to have been born in the right families - those of “peasants, crofters, seafarers, etc.” (Not a personal dig at other posters, btw.) Actually those children were actively educated in music, but by their families and friends rather than by their school. Some parents do take an active responsibility for encouraging musical potential of any sort in their children. Many are happy for the child to spend time on far less creative activities – how are these children to be alerted to the life-changing possibilities of music?

3. Not all of us live in areas where there is easy access to Scots or Gaelic traditional music; or are old enough to go into sessions!

4. Education needs to be provided in a medium and in the place that is most useful to those taking it up. (Gaelic song may not be seen as generally important or useful in, say, the Borders.)

5. Traditional music still appears not to be seen as having significance in the school curriculum, even more than music in general. In fact different aspects of music and song can be absorbed into a range of studies – history (social and political), geography, maths, physics… as well as into broader discussion of human behaviour, in which song excels.

6. Traditional song can play an important part in keeping young people in touch with their linguistic roots. We now understand that the Scottish Government is planning to have a look at this. The sooner the better.

7. ‘Traditional’ music was once the music of the people, or at least of a substantial number of people of all ages. At the average event now, there may be a scattering of young people who have been enthused by family or teachers. The overwhelming majority will be (to be frank) older people. Other threads here have looked at the age profile of contestants in traditional singing competitions ( ). Would increased exposure through education encourage more young people to participate actively? Or would an insistence on adherence to a particular set of rules (written or unwritten) put them off?

8. We have organisations to promote, present and preserve what we have determined as the traditional music and song heritage of Scotland. We are at present creating the heritage for future generations, whose traditional songs are being written now (subject for a separate thread, perhaps?) We may reasonably assume that of the songs we now consider as traditional, many would have come from the thoughts and singing of young people (unless folk music is totally different from other musical forms).

9. Young people in general learn faster, and learn more than late-comers to the tradition – less rubbish cluttering up their brains perhaps. (But they are less use in pub quizzes!)

10. Further education in traditional music is just as important as basic education. Of course no one needs education to feel the music, but exposure to high-calibre teaching is significant in producing the educators that we need to carry out much of the agenda above.

Posts: 1670
Posted: 29-Jan-2008 11:36
Fiona the Minister is handing out some additional millions to the hungry universities at the moment and this course would be a very suitable vehicle to support .The funds are to distributed at the discretion of the receiving institution so it is unlikely .
Posts: 12842
Posted: 29-Jan-2008 12:00
Is this the extra £10 million? When Scottish Universities asked for £168 million?

Fiona might have done better to study arithmetic rather than Economic History and Sociology.

Posts: 1670
Posted: 29-Jan-2008 14:38
I think trams were involved somewhere along the way ..
.great for the digger companies and manufacturers of traffic barriers..
.sales of anti stress remedies have also shot up in the city as a result of time spent in caurs
.Never mind -those who will see it will glide from their luxury apartments along the shore to their plush city offices in 201???????
Posts: 1670
Posted: 29-Jan-2008 15:28
As MacWhirter says its a rock and a hard place for Wendy
"I wouldn't like to be the legal eagle in the Electoral Commission who has to adjudicate on the Alexander episode - it looks like a no-win situation. If she's exonerated, a lot of people will claim a cover-up; if they call in the law, it's probably the end of her career. Either way, the very foundations of this government are shaking - and we'll learn in a few days whether Labour's own law is going to be Alexander's undoing."
Fiona is starting to look good by comparison even she didnt reach the heights of management consultancy which Wendy achieved during her 18 months of "real" work in a non political setting.
Posts: 12842
Posted: 29-Jan-2008 15:36
Let's not start having a go at Management Consultants or I'll tell you my joke about the McKinsey guys not peeing on their fingers.
Posts: 1670
Posted: 29-Jan-2008 16:00
Nearly as bad as getting eigg on their face-liked it
The farmer boy
Posts: 517
Posted: 30-Jan-2008 10:14
Management consultancy might be hard work but it is neither "productive "work nor connected to the "real world".

The Academy should probably get the money it needs, even if it discriminates against potential students on the basis of their age.

Posts: 57
Posted: 30-Jan-2008 17:40
I hear Phil Cunningham has been appointed as Brian McNeil's successor.

Anyone know if this is official?

Posts: 3461
Posted: 30-Jan-2008 18:37
I understand this will be more an Artistic Director post rather than a day-to-day academic with admin responsibilities.
Posts: 1591
Posted: 30-Jan-2008 18:45
We Footstompers never fail, do we? A serious thread is started about educating young people in traditional music and within a few steps we have ignored the original important issue and moved on to slagging off politicians and management consultants. At least the two postings prior to mine have tried to move us back on track.
Posts: 12842
Posted: 31-Jan-2008 00:48
Phil Cunningham, ******** (removed - insulting Forum Admin) , is to be the new artistic director of its Scottish traditional music course.

Posts: 1032
Posted: 31-Jan-2008 05:15
boula2 has got the red carpet ready ;-)

Posts: 1670
Posted: 31-Jan-2008 08:27
Does this mean the new graduates can write B A (Hog) after their name ?
Great to see clarity and equity in the appointment of artistic directors these days -can they not afford an advert?
Sad state of affairs for Scottish music
Simon T
Posts: 8666
Posted: 31-Jan-2008 10:15
I believe that Phil will will work 1 day a week and the RSAMD will employ a full time academic to run the course. I very much admire Phil's work over the year and he will be a great person for the students to talk to.

I don't understand though why the RSAMD trad course needs an Artistic Director it's not a festival, theatre etc it is a course of learning. Does this mean we are going to be having a concert series each year?

I do think posts like this should be advertised as many of the able folks I chatted to quite fancied a crack at this kind of thing.

From my chats to the various students on the course the number one thing they need to do is not let the traditional musicians feel bottom of the pile all the time. There is a feeling of being last in the queue for most things at the academy.

Posts: 2596
Posted: 31-Jan-2008 10:46
Well Well, Mairi, shall you be applying for your degree in’ Hogmanay Shows? :-)
a degree in "nothing works faster than Anadin" (ie the 10 yard sprint)
Posts: 12842
Posted: 31-Jan-2008 14:34
I missed this letter at the time. Some of the comments are worth reading.

Sorry for the long link.>

Jim King
Posts: 1086
Posted: 31-Jan-2008 14:54
Interesting comments after that letter.

"I fully agree with Colin Edwards excellent points above. Traditional music worthy of the name doesnt (sic) need supporting. If something "traditional" needs support, obviously it isnt (sic) very traditional at all, or has fallen entirely out of favour and should be allowed to die (the same as the gaelic (sic) language finally should).

If money is to be spend supporting then arts, then Mr Edwards is again correct and than Opera should be the main beneficiary. The situation is different here as most Scots are entirely ignorant of Opera, and thus I wouldnt (sic) be against using funds to enlighten them."

Equally by that argument, it follows that if most Scots are ignorant of their musical traditions, appropriate funds might be used to enlighten them.

Nìall Beag
Posts: 2237
Posted: 31-Jan-2008 15:30
Yes! We need to enlighten Scots about Opera! It is far more stable than Internet Explorer, and doesn't suffer from memory leaks like the otherwise-excellent Firefox.

Opera can be downloaded from

Posts: 104
Posted: 31-Jan-2008 17:31
Ok, here goes...My problem with someone like Phil Cunningham getting the job (and I make it quite clear that its nothing against him) is that he is a full-time musician and I'm sure is very busy with playing, travelling, television, radio etc. I understand that the job is only 1 day a week but is he actually going to manage to work that one day a week for the whole of the term time? Perhaps he has shoogled things about so he can and if so thats brilliant but I think the students at the rsamd deserve to have someone who can fully commit to the job. I think its appaling that the job wasn't adervertised, off the top of my head I can think of four or five folk who would be great at the job. And they are academics with a knowledge of traditional music. At the end of the day, this is an academic course (with performance elements),and it should be run by and academic. I don't understand why there are two jobs here when really there should only be one. The rsamd needs a head of traditional music who is from an academic background but also with an understanding of our music. The Elphinstone Institute in Aberdeen has a fine example of this - Ian Russell.
Apologies if this is a bit rambling but just typing as I'm thinking!
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