Lochgoilhead Fiddle Workshop is also Fèis Cheann Loch Goibhle
Item Posted: Tuesday 1st November, 2005
Fèis (plural Fèisean) is the Gaelic word for a festival or feast. However over the past few years the word has become synonomous with the Fèis movement; a group of Gaelic arts tuition festivals, mainly for young people, which now take place throughout Scotland.
A Fèis is an opportunity for individuals to come together to develop skills in the Gaelic arts - song, dance, drama, and traditional music on a wide range of instruments. Tuition is accessible and fun, but professional and effective. The focus of activity for most Fèisean is an annual, week-long festival, but increasingly Fèisean offer a full programme of year-round follow-on classes to ensure sustained provision.
The Fèis movement came about when a group of parents and other individuals on the Isle of Barra became concerned that local traditions were dying out and that island children were not being taught traditional music in the context of formal education. To address this issue the first Fèis Bharraigh was held on the island in 1981.
The skills taught at Fèisean are a highly-valued aspect of the informal education of young people, as demonstrated by the level of volunteer commitment and parental support in local areas. Most importantly, the Fèis experience is valued by the young participants themselves. At national level, the Fèisean are seen by many as one of the most successful arts initiatives in Scotland.
"When heads of state visit this country I'm proud to show them our architectural heritage whether it's a castle, a cottage, or a House for an Art Lover. I'm delighted they can hear young musicians from [the RSAMD], and from the Fèis movement, play the music of our country."
First Minister Jack McConnell MSP, St Andrew's Day 2003
Fèisean nan Gàidheal was established in 1988 as the independent umbrella association of the Fèis movement. The organisation offers grant-aid, training programmes, insurance, instrument-bank administration, published resources and many other services to its member Fèisean. This includes a regular newsletter.
In addition to the Fèisean themselves, nearly 1,500 follow-on classes were supported by Fèisean nan Gàidheal in 2004-5. The total number of young people participating in Fèis activities over the year totalled 4,887.
Lochgoilhead is ‘on the edge’ of the Gaelic speaking area, but as late as 1900 many, if not most, residents would have spoken Gaelic. The Workshop already plays a large repertoire of Gaelic tunes, and our recent link with the movement should give us the opportunity to do more to preserve a part of the culture which is so important to the music we play. We clearly want to support any project which will help retain and encourage children in rural communities.