Traditional Music in Safe Hands

Congratulations to Orcadian Fiddler, Kristan Harvey, on winning the BBC Young Traditional Musician of the Year.This competition has been running for a number of years and the quality of the contestants proves that the future of Scottish traditional music is, at last, safe in the hands of this country’s youth.

For years Scottish traditional music has suffered at the hands of Tartanism. Shows like The White Heather Club was spoon fed to us as children because it was what the broadcasters believed we needed to see. It was uncool to be seen walking to school with a fiddle under your arm. It was taboo to admit to liking pipe music. Thankfully that has changed.

The Celtic Connections Festival closes today. At the five concerts I attending during the festival I was delighted to witness the huge volume of youngsters in the audience and on the stage. On Saturday I went to the Festival Club in Glasgow Art’s School. There, impromptu sessions were springing up in every corner with the majority of the players being below the age of twenty.

And on an early morning journey into Glasgow last week I was stunned to see a group of about twenty school children walking along the road, all carrying traditional instrument cases.

I believe the change in attitude is mostly due to Fèisean nan Gàidheal, an organisation set up to support community based Gaelic arts development with a strong emphasis on music. But it is also the influence of unique artists like Martyn Bennett and Gordon Duncan. These two, sadly missed, pipers have led many young Scots back to their roots.

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