Who Am I? Christmas 2017 update

The last 3 years 

To update you on my musical life over the last three years: I studied BA Music at Oxford University between October 2014 and June 2017. My time at Oxford was a life-shaping experience. (But then isn’t everything that we do a life-shaping experience?) I gained a tonne of musical knowledge; I deepened my ability to think, criticise and argue; I explored different musical styles from Western art music to hip hop to folk music to Russian rock music; and I broadened my social experiences and made friendships for life. It was a tough time. The intensity of an Oxford education is by no means easy to deal with. But even knowing what I know about it now I would still repeat the experience, because it has ultimately made me a stronger person.

One of the most significant outcomes of my time at Oxford is that I transitioned from being primarily a classical musician to being primarily a Scottish traditional musician. While many factors were at play here, I think that a crucial determinant was my experience of being a Scot living in the south of England. Yes, there are many similarities between Scottish and English cultures. But I frequently felt alienated and misunderstood. I noticed a difference in the sense of humour and I was constantly frustrated by the tacit association of ‘British’ with ‘English’, leaving ‘Scottish’, ‘Welsh’ and ‘Northern Irish’ out of the picture completely. And so I gravitated more towards Scottish culture to comfort myself and to affirm my sense of identity. Furthermore, my interest in Scottish cultural politics burgeoned, resulting in a 10,000-word dissertation entitled ‘A Song For Scotland: The Role of Music in the Scottish Independence Referendum Debate’.

The next 2 years 

I am thrilled to announce that I will be studying a 2-year MMus in Traditional Music at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland between September 2018 and June 2020. I’m really looking forward to this. Many exciting musical adventures lie ahead!

The 1 year between the 3 years and the 2 years 

Between graduating from Oxford in July 2017 and starting my Masters studies at RCS in September 2018, I am spending a year at Hotel Mum and Dad to take a break from institutional education and give myself time to practise, compose, perform, teach and further my experience in community music.

  • In July-August 2017, I participated in the Fèis Rois National Cèilidh Trail, a 4-week tour of Scotland in a 4-person Scottish traditional music band. It was an invaluable experience: lots of fun and learning. You can watch our 15-minute final performance here.
  • I’m working on a collaborative electronic-trad fusion composition project about Dunskey Castle in Stranraer, of which I will release more details shortly.
  • I’ve been shortlisted as one of 19 musicians out of 700 applicants to participate in Chilly Gonzales’ The Gonzervatory, an 8-day residential music performance workshop in Paris in spring 2018. You can watch my application video here and you can read my previous blog post about the inspiration that I take from Chilly Gonzales here.
  • I’m working as a Sessional Worker with Children Inc in East Lothian to deliver music activities for children with additional support needs.
  • I’m volunteering with Drake Music Scotland to deliver music activities for people with disabilities.
  • I’m volunteering with Gig Buddies Scotland to support a person with a learning disability to go to gigs, concerts and plays.
  • I’m also fitting in time to learn to drive and to learn (some) Gaelic!

Thanks a lot for taking the time to read this blog post. More musical creations and ruminations are coming your way soon! In the meantime, please follow this blog and listen to the newly-uploaded recordings and videos on this website.

I hope you have a wonderful, peaceful, family-centred Christmas! xx

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