Those who know me will know I like listening to Scottish traditional Music, if I am not attending a concert I am listening to it on my IPod. Today I was listening to ‘Last Band Standing’ the latest double CD from the pupils Sgoil Chiuil na Gaidhealtachd (The National Centre of Excellence in Traditional Music) The CD is dedicated to a major figure in Scotland’s music who sadly passed away last year Michael Marra.
In August 2000, ten of Scotland’s most talented young musicians arrived in the West Highland village of Plockton, to become the first pupils of the counrty’s only centre devoted to teaching traditional music. Thirteen years later the centre has gone from strength to strength, producing some of Scotland’s finest traditional musicians. At the helm of the centre is Dougie Pincock the musical director, previously a piper with the Battlefield Band. A Feis tutor for many years he taught in the National Piping Centre and the RSAMD. The Centre’s tutors are all top class working professional musicians, Iain MacFarlane of Blazing fiddles fame, Mick West, (Scots song) Gordon Gunn (Session A9) Marc Duff (Whistle) to name but a few.
Many of the past pupils have gone to make a career from their music, Norrie McIver (Bodega sadly disbanded, Manran & Na Seoid ) Sean Grey (Paul MacKenna Band) Maireard Green, (Marianne Fraser, Heather Shelly Mhairi MacKinnon (Cherry Grove) Ross Couper, Chris Waite (Dr. Mango & the Chickpeas) Fiona MacAskill, Eddie Seamen, Colin Greeves (Barluath) I am sure I will have missed some.
In 2011 after the Highland Council cut some of the funding the Music school received ‘The Friends of Plockton Music School’ was set up to enable the public to make donations to make up the shortfall. The Trust is intended to finance the already well established ‘fringe’ activities of the Centre, such as CD production, touring and outreach, and equipment purchase. The initial target income to fund these activities is £30,000 per annum, but the medium term target is £50,000 per annum, which will greatly aid the Centre’s development and sustainability.
I am very proud to have been involved with the music school over the past ten years, sadly I had to give up my role as a house parent last October. I still follow all their progress and try and attend their concerts when I can. I was invited over to their Burns Supper in January, it was lovely to be part of it all again. If you do get a chance to see them perform when you visit Skye you definitely won’t be disappointed.