Schools Gaelic Tour
Item Posted: Monday 18th January, 2010
At the same time that Celtic Connections were putting on a series of school concerts for Glasgow children as part of the key Glasgow winter festival, a local group are attempting to give Cowal and Mid-Argyll children something of a similar experience.
Fèis Cheann Loch Goibhle have just completed a successful ten schools tour of Cowal and Mid-Argyll schools with two top professional Gaelic musicians.
More than 700 youngsters had the rare opportunity of hearing Gaelic song, music and stories from Anne Martin and Ingrid Henderson. Taking the music direct to non- Gaelic schools is an effective way of giving the next generation a taster of part of their heritage, according to Elizabeth Bain, who organises the tour on behalf of Fèis Cheann Loch Goibhle. ‘ We, and our sister group Fiddle Folk, already teach traditional fiddle in five local schools in partnership with Argyll and Bute Education Authority,’ she told us, ‘ but there are lots of schools who miss out on the programme, and this tour is an opportunity for us to give some input into those schools, as well as giving our own schoolchildren the change of having some exposure to live music. We have been able to arrange this tour for the last three years with the ongoing support of Fèisean Nan Gaidheal. We were pleased to be able to extend the tour to some new schools this year – Dunoon Primary, Lochgilphead Primary and Lochgilphead High’
The two musicians who were involved in this project are Anne Martin and Ingrid Henderson. Anne is a highly respected Gaelic singer, who has been performing and researching Gaelic song since childhood, having been born and brought up in Trotternish on the Isle of Skye. She has released two albums, one as a solo artiste and the other as a duo with Ingrid Henderson. Anne’s singing is nothing short of a joy to listen to. She sings with animation and feeling whilst enunciating with clarity. There are songs on her CD that cover the spectrum of emotion: truthful and engaging, assertive and sensitive, and was described by Living Tradition magazine as
‘a strong and vibrant branch growing from the tree of the Gaelic tradition. Their work is always of a high standard but in the studio setting they seem to have found another level of energy and creativity, producing a recording that is dynamic, flowing, even gushing, with life.’
Anne has been working with harpist and multi- instrumentalist Ingrid Henderson since 1996 and they make regular appearances on Gaelic TV and radio. Ingrid, from Lochaber, won the prestigious BBC Radio 2 Young Traditionalist Award in 1990 at a frighteningly young age and is a graduate in Celtic Studies from Glasgow University.
For school events, of course, although the quality of the singing and playing matters, it is the ability to connect and communicate with the youngsters that is of paramount importance. This is a skill they both have in spades. Their enthusiasm for their music is infectious, and we have no doubt that there will be- in the future- young musicians around who received their initial spark of interest in Gaelic and its music from these tours.
Fèis Cheann Loch Goibhle and Lochgoilhead Fiddle Workshop have now put on school events for five years, and more than 3000 Cowal and Mid Argyll youngsters have benefited from the projects. Many have had the opportunity to learn the fiddle in schools around the area; many others have had the opportunity of playing at ‘Come and Try’ sessions in a variety of instruments; others have been taken to a range of public concerts free by their parents or family; some have attended music and outdoor activity weekends. But most children in Cowal (and many in Mid-Argyll) will now have heard live music from professional musicians in their schools.
The tour finished with an informal recital in Strathlachlan Village Hall, where parents and families could get a taster of what the schools tour had been all about. Anne and Ingrid were joined by Fiddle Folk’s schools tutor, Sarah Naylor and one of their ex –tutors Anna-Wendy Stevenson.
To find out more about Fèis Cheann Loch Goibhle’s projects please visit www.fiddleworkshop.co.uk