Tinto takes place at Wiston Lodge in South Lanark, and is a wonderful place in the middle of the countryside, perfect for a music school, with lots of rooms in the house for classes and loads of space outside for activities. In charge of affairs were Paul, Isla and Kirsty who showed everyone round upon arrival and gave us a run down of the week.
After lunch, we started classes immediately with our first group. The other lead tutors were Tina Jordan Rees and Findlay Napier, with junior tutor Finlay Cunniffe, a fiddle/harp player, helping out. There were 15 kids altogether, and a good mixture of instruments; fiddles, pianos, guitars, a flute, a recorder, an accordion and pipes/chanter. We started off with an old Scottish tune “The Bear Dance”. After the kids had picked this up (which was fairly quickly!) I began to teach them an old Irish tune, “Dawning of the Day”. This is quite a well known tune as it is sang to the popular Patrick Kavanagh poem “On Raglan Road”.
After class we had a hearty dinner and then the evening off. Paul and the team had some fun activities planned for the kids including a scavenger hunt which I took part in (and my team won wohoo!).
The next morning it was an early start for a full day of classes. Findlay led the first class, teaching everyone a scots song, “The Rovin' Ploughboy”. After this we split up into separate classes. I took all the melody players and we worked on the tunes they had learned the previous day. We also worked the song, writing and learning intro, outro and instrumental parts. It was a hard days work for the students but paid off at the end when everyone joined up together to play the song and tunes. They were already sounding brilliant!
That evening after dinner was the rooms concert and the tutors concert. Each room of kids had to perform some music for everyone else and then it was the tutors turn! It was a very enjoyable evening and we heard some lovely, original pieces from the students including a song written about Tinto!
The next day we were up bright and early again for final rehearsals and the parents concert. The kids performed brilliantly and we were very proud of how well they remembered the arrangements. The concert was streamed live on the internet, and can be viewed here on the Hands Up for Trad Facebook page.
On Thursday afternoon it was back to the grindstone for the next bunch of students, this time 25 of them! Fiddlers Chris Mack and Ryan Young also joined us to help out with classes. We started with a simple march, Angus MacLeod, to warm everyone up. There was even more variety of instruments in this group; fiddles, flutes, guitars, pianos, harps, trombones and trumpets!
After this we worked on a lovely scots song taught by Findlay, “Gin I were whaur the Gaddie rins”. We also started another tune with them, “The Lochaber Badger”, a reel by Fred Morrison. I took all the fiddlers separately later in the afternoon, and we worked on some nice string parts for the two tunes and songs. There was over 10 talented fiddle players on the course and it was great fun working on the parts with them.
The next day we continued to practise the three arrangements; the march, reel and the song. The kids were beginning to sound really good, we even had a brass section which was very exciting!
Friday night saw the rooms and tutor concert which was tremendous again with tunes, songs and sketches from the different groups. Tina and I played some tunes with Findlay, and also joined him for a lovely song of his own.
The next morning was the grand finale of Tinto Tasters. After some morning rehearsals, the big group were ready to perform in front of their parents. They done an absolute wonderful job and played the arrangements perfectly! Watch the video here.
I really enjoyed my week at Tinto, the music, meeting so many young musicians and spending time at Wiston Lodge which is a fantastic setting! Thanks to everyone involved; Paul, Isla and Kirsty for making it run so smoothly, Wendy and all the lovely staff at Wiston Lodge, and finally, the brains behind the school - Simon at Hands Up for Trad.