0131 555 7668   admin@scotsmusic.org

Scots Music Group runs traditional music and song classes for adults, informal sessions, monthly ceilidhs and other social events.
We are a community-based charity in Edinburgh.

Scots Music Group runs traditional music and song classes for adults, informal sessions, monthly ceilidhs and other social events.
We are a community-based charity in Edinburgh.

ON THIS PAGE:        About Us            Minutes & Newsletters             Board              Tutors            Office Location    Class Location      Contact

Scots Music Group is a charity with a strong ethos of community-building, using traditional music, song and dance to bring people together.

We actively support and encourage our students to gain the skills and confidence to take their music back into their own communities. We rely on the enormous goodwill of all our members who get involved in making things happen.

Over the years, the organisation has been instrumental in the resurgence of interest in Scottish traditional music, song and dance, both in Edinburgh and further afield. Much of this has happened due to the enthusiasm and commitment of our team of tutors, and the willingness of members to join together in developing a large number of opportunities for sharing music, song and dance with others in the community. We support regular sessions, performances, ceilidhs and many other exciting events.

Scots Music Group plays a significant role in Scotland’s lively, diverse, traditional music scene and was voted ‘Community Project of the Year’ at the Scots Trad Music Awards in December 2007.

An important aspect of Scots Music Group’s valuable work is raising funds to help ensure our classes and events are accessible to as many people as possible, through generous discounts to concession-holders. It also allows us to actively support community development, which is an important aim of the organisation.

Scots Music Group is a registered charity number SC032702. SMG is a membership organisation with a volunteer Board of Directors. We have two part-time staff members: Sarah Northcott (Interim Development Worker 15hrs per week) and Helen Reid (Coordinator 21hrs per week) and a small team of volunteers.

Adult Learning Project

Scots Music Group started as a small part of the Adult Learning Project (ALP), an adult education organisation funded by the City of Edinburgh Council. ALP supports a variety of community learning and development groups including The Welcoming. The Welcoming encourages people of different minority backgrounds to meet with others and celebrate cultural diversity.

For further details contact:
Adult Learning Project
Tollcross Community Centre,
117 Fountainbridge, Edinburgh EH3 9QG
0131 221 5800

Our Aims


To create a critical relationship of respect and status to Scottish music, song and dance that it may live in the heart of the community and beyond.


To build a repertoire in the Scottish idiom with reference to the past and present and into the future.


To encourage and maintain the oral and aural transmission of the Scottish tradition.


To create opportunities to foster connections with, and explore the traditions of, the music, song and dance of other cultures.


Bringing the best practitioners of Scottish music, song and dance into SMG as performers and tutors to inspire and encourage students to develop the skills and opportunities to perform together in the community.


To maintain a democratic and participative style of voluntary organisation.

AGM Minutes

2021 Minutes

SCOTS MUSIC GROUP AGM MINUTES 25th April 2021 (1.45pm for 2pm)

Present (30 members & tutors):
Alastair Cameron, Alex Stuart, Bernadette Kellermann (tutor), Bill Savage, Celia Coulson, Chris Mahony, Colin Graham (tutor), David Francis (tutor), David Stephenson, Edna Wilson (Chair), Elaine Armstrong, Emma Graham, Fiona Tinelli, Gill McDonald, Harvey Sheppard, Helen Quigley, Hellen MacPherson, Iain Hampson, Isobel Sheppard, Jamie Taylor, Kenneth Dickson, Mary McCann, Michael Appleby, Moira Dunworth, Paul McIntosh (Treasurer), Paul Cromey, Ruth Hannah, Shauna Dickson, Susan Kirkwood, Vicky Pearson.

In attendance:
Helen Reid (SMG Administrator)
Sarah Northcott (SMG Interim Development Worker)

Apologies (27 members & tutors):
Alice Yuchan, Alistair Kilgour, Alison Carlyle, Andy Clark, Carole Ross, Caroline Barden, Cathy Davidson, Dan Ross, David Hogg, D Stuart McCorkindale, Carole Ross, Cathy Davidson, Douglas Scott, Elaine Appleby, Elaine Cannon, Fiona Harrison, George Davidson, Hazel Forsyth, Iain Murray, Jan Bundy, Joan Corbett, Jock Maitland, John Martin, Louise Rennie, Nicola McNeill, Rebecca Stevenson, Sarah Glynn.

The meeting was opened at just after 2pm by Sarah Northcott (SN), As ‘Master of Ceremonies’ for this special on-line AGM, Sarah managed the Zoom technicalities in support of the Board chair Edna Wilson (EW).

SN welcomed everybody and noted that the AGM was being recorded for internal use

Acceptance of the minutes as an accurate record of the last AGM was proposed, without any corrections, by Colin Graham (CG) and seconded by Vicky Pearson.

Further comments were made on two issues from those minutes.

On Additional Support Needs (ASN), EW said that the Board had started discussion on this but moves towards a policy was put on hold by the onset of the Covid 19 emergency and the ending of face-to-face classes. As part of the action and to assess ASN needs, SN proposed to look at the membership demographic.

SN said that the future of the MacLennan Collection awaited a final decision. Dave Francis (DF) had spoken to Gill about the proposal to house these at The Storytelling Centre as part of proposed Scottish Trad archive. Any such move was put on hold after flood damage in the Centre. It is about to re-open and DF will have another look at the potential storage capacity. However, there is an issue that some of the items in the Collection are not particularly rare, and in legacy formats (vinyl albums and CDs).

The report from the chair was presented as a video recording by Edna Wilson (EW). The full written version ‘Chairs Report for AGM 2021’ was also made available via the SMG website.

EW noted that at the time of the AGM, following the earlier resignation of Steve Byrne and with Sarah Northcott (SN) acting as Interim Development Worker, the Board’s most pressing issue was making a permanent appointment to this role. However, this work was overtaken by the need from early in March 2020, during Term 2 of the 2019-2020 year, to respond to the emerging Covid-19 pandemic. Expecting to have to plan for just a few months of abnormality, the Board cancelled the remaining Term 2 classes, the fundraising ceilidhs and the student concert. Sadly, this all took place during the year that marked the 30th anniversary of SMG (initially as part of the Adult Learning Project) in which it was planned to celebrate with multiple events over the year.

Recruitment of the new Development Worker had progressed as far as shortlisting and some interviewing but, as it was going to be difficult for a new person to be integrated into the running of SMG at this time, the process was put on indefinite hold and later abandoned completely. Fortunately, SN was persuaded to continue in her position of Interim Development Worker. EW expressed the Board’s tremendous gratitude to her and also to Helen Reid in the SMG office for both working so hard to keep SMG going smoothly during this period.

EW noted that the Board’s concerns were to secure SMG’s survival whilst providing some support to members and tutors. Financial recompense was offered to students for classes that had to be cancelled, tutors were given some compensation for loss of income and SMG produced regular newsletters to keep its community informed. Some tutors also made arrangements to continue their Term 3 classes online.

It became clear that the autumn classes of the 2020-21 teaching year would have to be moved online but it wasn’t known how students would cope with this. In fact, many more signed up that had been hoped and we were able to help any students who had problems with online access. Unfortunately, all of the normal beginner classes had to be cancelled as these typically require tutors to be in close contact with individual students and their instruments. An upside of the new arrangements was that around 30 students from well beyond the normal Edinburgh catchment joined online classes – from other parts of the UK and from some other countries.

EW said that the usual Stramash at the end of Term 1 was replaced by the posting of group photos and in some cases by class videos recordings of tunes. To raise additional funds and to bring students together, two special workshops were organised and were oversubscribed. These were A Day of Songs in November (tutors Kris Drever, Alison Burns, Bella Hardy, Ellie Beaton, Dawn Hartley and Quee MacArthur) and A Day of Tunes in March (Gary West, Sarah-Jane Summers, Mike Vass and Ian Lowthian). Mary McCann also organised Zoom singing classes with her leading by phone. EW added that further one-day or half-day workshops are planned.

EW noted that the SMG members in many groups who usually go out into the community and raise money for SMG have been unable to do so during the pandemic but have continued to practice in whatever ways possible for the return of live playing. She added that as a self-funding organisation, SMG is grateful for their donations as well as from other individual donors. SMG also continues to sell song and tune books. A new book is in preparation and SMG T-shirts are available via the website.

EW expressed how SMG’s luck in having supportive, creative tutors from the forefront of Scottish cultural life, resourceful and dedicated staff, in Sarah and Helen, and a membership that had supported the Board and staff at all times. She also thanked ex Board member Mac Walker for helping with the website, which had been particularly important at this time, and Liz Blair for her continuing services as bookkeeper.

Finally, EW paid tribute to departed friend, cellist, SMG stalwart and supporter of the Inspire project Heather Harbinson. Her warmth and life will be remembered whenever Heather’s Waltz, specially written for her, is played.

Discussion relating to the Chair’s report
Alastair Cameron thanked the Board for “keeping things together in an incredibly trying year” and a written message from Nicola McNeill thanked SMG tutors, staff & board saying that she “really appreciated the extra work this had meant for tutors”.

Treasurer Paul McIntosh (PM) provided his finance report as a pre-recorded video. Two documents were also made available via the SMG website: Finance Report for 2019/20 for AGM 2021; and SMG Annual Report & Financial Statement – 2020 signed accounts.

He noted that, as SMG’s financial year runs from 1st July to 30th June, that the latest audited figures were for the year 2019-20 which ended in June 2020. Up until the start of March 2020, this was a normal year for SMG but then, due to the impact of Covid-19, severe changes had to be implemented. The remaining Term 2 and all Term 3 classes were cancelled and there were no, income generating, ceilidhs after that of February 2020.

The overall 2019/20 income of £93.4k (all figures rounded), compared with £133 in 2018/19, and consisted of class and membership fees, donations (£3k, higher than usual) and a grant (£350 from Lothian and Borders Piping Society to support the beginner smallpipes class). Many students also generously chose not to take the offered reimbursement of fees for the cancelled last few weeks of Term 2.

The overall expenditure of £105k, compared with £128k in the previous teaching year. This cost reduction was largely due to the period from March 2020, when SMG’s office work moved out of the Eric Liddell Centre, venue hires were cancelled and tutor travel expenses ceased. These reductions were greater than the new costs such as for Zoom licences and business mobile phones. After the decision was made in March 2020 to cancel the remaining two weeks of Term 2 classes, the Board decided to pay tutors the remainder of their fees for that term and to also make compensatory goodwill payments for the loss of their Term 3 teaching income.

PM summarised SMG’s resulting year-end financial position for 2019-202 as a deficit of £12k over the year. This compared with surpluses of £5k and £15k for the preceding two years. SMG thus finished the financial year with its reserve (‘cash in bank’) reduced to £45k.

PM noted that, particularly in the light of Covid-19 emergency, SMG was in the fortunate position of having adequate financial reserves and that the long-term policy has been to keep back an amount equivalent to the cost of six months of normal operation.

Finally, PM noted that from the experience so far during the Covid-19 lockdown, the 2019/20 year-end £45k reserve, which was expected to have reduced by a further £10k by June 2021, would allow continuing internet-based teaching for a further two years.

Discussion relating to the finance report
Chris Mahony asked about the financial position with regard to maintaining future SMG classes. PM replied that the June 2020 reserve was £45k and in now June 2021 is forecast to be around ~£35k. The Board was “concerned but not over worried”.

Mike Appleby (MA) asked how the reserves are banked. PM said that the funds are kept in a very low-interest Bank of Scotland (BoS) account. MA asked if it would be worth moving to a longer-term investment in ethical funds which currently perform better than other funds. PM said that had discussed this with BoS. Setting up accounts for charities is “extraordinarily tricky” but he could look at it. MA supports this idea.

EW thanked two Board members who had retired since the last AGM. Colin Graham did very valuable work on the risks associated with the Covid-19 pandemic and greatly helped SMG to respond to the emergency in a positive way. Eoin McIntyre gave valuable thoughts and ideas to the Board and was a “stalwart” of the fund-raising ceilidhs at St. Brides Centre. His recent move to much further away from Edinburgh made his continued involvement impractical.

The re-election of current directors Edna Wilson, Paul McIntosh, Fiona Harrison, Jamie Taylor and Helen Quigley was proposed by Alastair Cameron and seconded by David Stevenson. New members Helen MacPherson and Bill Savage were proposed by Colin Graham and seconded by Vicky Pearson.

MA welcomed and thanked the new board members and SN also welcomed new board members.


There were no further motions from the Board or from the membership and Formal business was concluded at 14:48.

2020 Minutes

SCOTS MUSIC GROUP AGM 1st March 2020 (1.30pm for 2pm)


Edna Wilson (Chair)
Paul McIntosh (Treasurer)
Christine McIntosh
Jamie Taylor (Board)
Isobel Sheppard
Mike Appleby
Elaine Appleby
Joan Corbett
Marie-Elaine Maguire
Fiona Harrison (Board)
Madeleine Brand
Alastair Hughes
Kenneth Dickson
Shauna Dickson
Colin Graham (Board and tutor)
Iain Murray
Frank Cowie
Joanna Cameron
Christine Craig
Peter Fraser
Gill McDonald
Chris Mahoney
Jill McPherson
John Lamont
Allan Sturrock
Stuart Wilson
Linda Campbell
Magnus Turpie
Fiona Tinelli
Jenny Wilson
Gill Simpson
Frank Downie
In attendance:
Helen Reid (SMG Administrator)
Sarah Northcott (SMG Interim Development Worker)

Alastair Cameron
Nicola McNeill
Dave Francis
Alison Carlyle
Trish Santer
Margaret Ferguson Burns
Helen Quigley
Harvey Sheppard
Eoin McIntyre

The meeting was opened by the Chair, Edna Wilson (EW), who welcomed SMG members to the meeting. Refreshments had been served. Ceilidh Caleerie were thanked for the lovely music provided from 1.30pm. The meeting began at 2pm. 32 members had signed in on arrival and the meeting was declared quorate. The Chair reminded the meeting that in order to vote on any motions or stand as a director, current membership of SMG was a requirement.

The minutes of the last AGM were accepted as an accurate record by the meeting (proposed: Colin Graham, seconded: Paul McIntosh) with the following correction:
Linda Campbell (LC) stated that Gica Loening hadn’t in fact supported ASN students in the past,and that this had been misremembered by Mary McCann.

Edna Wilson (EW) gave the report from the chair. EW had taken over from Alison Carlyle in August 2019 (note that the report incorrectly stated 2020). The Board had set up a new position of Vice Chair, currently held by Colin Graham. Steve Byrne had left his post as Development Worker in January 2020. EW noted that SMG is well respected in Edinburgh and beyond, having good community links.
SMG will be celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2020, and celebrations will take place during the 2020-21 season. EW asked for help and suggestions for these celebrations.
SMG’s class bookings and memberships continued to increase this year, with several new
classes and short courses. A group of volunteers had organised popular song workshops, and
Easter workshops were held in fiddle and guitar.
EW paid tribute to the skill and dedication of SMG’s tutors, welcoming those who had joined
SMG this year and thanking tutors who had moved on.
EW also paid tribute to office staff Helen Reid and Steve Byrne in keeping the office working
well. Steve left at the end of January 2020 to pursue new challenges, and EW wished him well.
Sarah Northcott has taken on the role as Interim Development Worker. EW thanked Helen for
keeping the office running during the transition.
EW noted the essential role of volunteers, including Liz Blair (bookkeeping), Robin Dempsey
(admin), ceilidh volunteers, volunteers at events (including Cafe Ceilidh) and on the Board. EW
encouraged people to contact Helen if they wished to volunteer. SMG always needs new Board
members, and is particularly looking for people with legal and HR experience, but anyone with
enthusiasm will be welcomed. The SMG ceilidhs continue to be popular and help to support SMG financially. They coordinated by Helen Reid.
EW noted the range of groups who play in the community, sharing their music and representing
SMG, including Ceilidh Caleerie, Caleerie Buskers, Balerno Buskers, Nigel’s Allstars, Colin’s
Ukelele Class, The DDs and groups from Sarah’s Mixed Instrument classes. Several groups
associated with SMG performed on Make Music Day. She thanked many of these groups for
raising funds for SMG at events.
EW noted that Inspire has now become a separate organisation, Inspire Community Music, and
that current and former Directors of SMG have been supporting the transition.
EW finished by saying that SMG had sadly lost several members in the past year: Geoffrey Sim,
Brian Stephen, Derek McMuldroch, Don Wright, Donald MacKinnon, Dave Mackay and Angus
Creech. They will always be a part of SMG and our community of traditional music.
Discussion relating to the Chair’s report
Chris Mahoney (CM) noted that there were several groups from SMG who had performed at St
Giles recently, and not all had been highlighted in newsletters etc. Sarah Northcott (SN) said
that often groups don’t let the office know what they’re doing, and encouraged everyone to
send in information and photos.

Treasurer Paul McIntosh (PM) gave the finance report. As SMG’s financial year runs from 1st
July to 30th June, the latest audited figures were for 2018-19.
PM noted that SMG was stable financially and generated a small surplus last year, mainly due
to an increase in student numbers, a higher number of students per class and extra classes and
workshops. This surplus served to top up the reserves in Unrestricted Funds, which means that
SMG now has reserves covering approximately 6 months of operating costs, in line with its
planned reserve level. Reserves in restricted funds are held for Inspire, which also made up
most of the specific grants received.
SMG’s main income has continued to be raised from membership fees; class fees; donations,
grants and fundraising; and ceilidh and other event income. Main expenditure has been on
tutor fees and venue hire; staff costs; office costs; event costs; and Inspire project operations.
PM rnoted that operations for the reported financial year had given the Board and auditors no
cause for concern. Discussion relating to the finance report
Mike Appleby (MA) asked about the scrutiny of the accounts. PM explained that the accounts
were externally audited, and these audited accounts were also subject to scrutiny from the
charity regular and Companies House because SMG is a limited company as well as a charity.

The current directors willing to stand again were: Edna Wilson, Colin Graham, Paul McIntosh,
Fiona Harrison, Eoin McIntyre, Jamie Taylor and Helen Quigley.
The re-election of the current directors was proposed by Allan Sturrock and seconded by
Shauna Dickson. MA welcomed and thanked the new Board.
There were no further motions from the Board or from the membership.

Risk – Coronavirus
Director Colin Graham (CG) explained that his background and main role on the Board was in
the area of risk. He noted the worrying possibilities of a global coronavirus pandemic, with the
closure of schools and other venues being a significant risk to SMG’s income. The Board would
be discussing how it could support tutors, potentially offering them some kind of retainer fee,
but that this would need to be balanced against SMG’s long-term needs. CG undertook to keep
a close eye on the situation.
Membership demographic
Linda Campbell (LC) asked about the membership demographic, and suggested that there
would be value in going out to schools to promote young people’s involvement, perhaps
through a mixed instrument class. Fiona Harrison supported the idea of encouraging more
people under 65 to join. Gill Simpson suggested approaching Feis Rois and other organisations.
CG noted that opening classes up to under 18s would add to administrative costs such as PVG
Isobel Sheppard (IS) stated that SMG is an adult organisation. MA suggested that a Young Adult
concession might help to encourage take-up. Helen Reid informed members that SMG had
discussed the recruitment of young people at a Staff/Board Awayday, and it had been decided
not to pursue this as previous attempts over many years had failed. David Leslie asked if the
age range was the same as 20 years ago – there were no figures available to answer this. Jill
McPherson suggested that there were people aged 20-30 in classes, but that they often left to
have families and then potentially returned. Iain Murray asked how many free spaces SMG has in classes. PM reported that the overall figure was 73% take-up, though this varied in different
terms. The Board agreed to add this issue to their agenda and work out a breakdown of ages.
Additional Support Needs
LC also said that the Board had told her there was no staff time available to set up an ASN
policy and encourage volunteers to help people in classes. CG said that the Board had acted on
this and had met with other organisation who might have been able to work in partnership with
SMG to achieve this, but these meetings hadn’t resulted in any further action. CG said that he
would be writing the policy. LC said that Creative Scotland has inclusion staff who will give
advice. She also asked that the membership be canvassed for ASN volunteers.
James Gillespie’s High School
John Lamont suggested that JGHS was potentially discouraging for students who don’t have a
car, especially in winter, as it’s a long way from bus stops. Shauna Dickson noted that
Sangstream has a member who has problems accessing the dining room as there’s no parking
immediately beside it. PM explained that SMG had looked to move with Boroughmuir, but this
hadn’t been possible, and that there were few schools which offered the facilities needed. Gill
Simpson noted that car parking is also important for students.
McLennan Collection
Gill Simpson told the meeting that Dave Francis had indicated that The Storytelling Centre were
considering taking the collection. Steve Byrne was going to get back to SMG about possibly
sorting it out and archiving it. Helen Reid said that originally SMG has space at The Eric Liddell
Centre to house the collection but office space had been reduced. EW agreed to contact Steve
Byrne. The meeting felt that it was better for the collection to go to The Storytelling Centre.
EW thanked everyone for attending, including the staff, members of Ceilidh Caleerie for their
music, and everyone who volunteered.
The meeting ended with a short session led by members of Ceilidh Caleerie.
SN 15 April 2020

2019 Minutes
Scots Music Group Annual General Meeting Sunday 3rd March 2019, 1.30 for 2pm

Christ Church, 6a Morningside Road, Edinburgh


The meeting was opened by the Chair, Alison Carlyle (AC), who welcomed SMG members to the meeting. Refreshments had been served.  Ceilidh Caleerie were thanked for the lovely music provided from 1.30pm.  The meeting began at 2pm.

24 members had signed in on arrival and the meeting was declared quorate. The Chair reminded the meeting that in order to vote on any motions or stand as a director, current membership of SMG was a requirement.


Sue Anderson
Madeleine Brand
Linda Campbell
Alison Carlyle (Chair)
Chris Craig
Colin Graham (Board & Tutor)
Emma Graham
Fiona Harrison (Board)
Tom Kane
Myles Lobjoie
Chris Mahony
Mary McCann (Tutor)
Paul McIntosh (Treasurer)
Christine McIntosh
Eoin McIntyre (Board)
Muriel McLardy
Iain Murray
Helen Quigley (Board)
Trish Santer
Isobel Sheppard
David Stephenson
Jamie Taylor
Edna Wilson (Board)
Stuart Wilson

In attendance: Steve Byrne, SMG Development Worker and Company Secretary

Apologies:      Celia Coulson, Alison Woolerton, Sarah Northcott.

Minutes of the last AGM 29th April 2018

These were accepted as a true record with some minor corrections:
1) Laurie Morris should read Maureen Morris,
2) The discount on James Gillespie’s is in fact 50% of the Council’s published commercial rates.

Questions relating to matters in the previous minutes

Isobel Sheppard asked about the progress of the ‘college’ of traditional music teaching organisations on which Dave Francis presented at a previous meeting. AC confirmed that in 2018, SMG had adopted the Code of Practice (CoP) based on the outcome of a working group attended by AC and Development Worker Steve Byrne (SB). The working group comprised representatives from other traditional music teaching organisations across Scotland, organised by the Traditional Music Forum. SB confirmed that in Sept 2018, a ‘Week Zero’ had been implemented for tutors to meet the week before classes start to introduce them to the CoP, where Dave Francis presented on this. AC commented that, as one of the larger teaching organisations, SMG was already implementing many of the aspects of the CoP. Mary McCann remarked that she found its approach regarding the quality of experience to be very positive. AC confirmed that the CoP looks at an organisation’s activity through several lenses: tutor / student / organisation, considering the perspective of each. AC wondered whether the CoP was available on the TMF website, and suggested SMG should host it on its website.

Miles Lobjoie asked what form the college would take, and AC confirmed that it is a virtual college or network rather than a physical entity.

The 2018 minutes were then proposed by Jamie Taylor, seconded Mary McCann.

Report from Alison Carlyle, Chair of Scots Music Group

The Chair presented her report which had also been distributed at the meeting.  She highlighted:

  • The growth in student numbers, with an expanding programme of classes, short courses and the upcoming Easter Music Days for fiddle and guitar.
  • The successful move to James Gillespie’s High School in Sep 2017 where, while not without issues, SMG has settled in well.
  • Ongoing grant support of LBPS towards smallpipes courses.
  • The Student Survey which received a good response, in particular the time and thought people had put into their responses. Results of the survey are in part borne out by recent short courses.
  • The contribution of Tutors who are key to SMG’s success, thanking those who were present and the work of Eilidh Steel and Mark Neal who left SMG at the end of last year to move to Helensburgh.
  • Tutor pay had been increased in Jan 2018 and is kept under review on an ongoing basis.
  • The office has reviewed its roles and as of autumn 2018 SB had reduced his hours and Helen Reid had increased hers, reflected in her new title of SMG Co-ordinator.
  • The contribution of volunteers, in particular Liz Blair, SMG’s volunteer bookkeeper who has helped over many years now.
  • The success of the fundraising ceilidhs for which the volunteers are crucial, with the events offering a great line-up of bands and a genuine experience for visiting tourists and students.
  • Events in the community including Café Ceilidh at the Storytelling Centre, and the advocacy work done by SMG students who go out to perform.
  • The Gift Aid process which the Treasurer Paul McIntosh (PMc) and the office coordinate which contributes to SMG funds.
  • The Inspire project: AC gave an update on the progress of Inspire following its 3 iterations over the past 8-10 years. Inspire will continue as a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation (SCIO) in future, with AC and PMc as Trustees for the moment, alongside Colin Duff who was the external evaluator on Inspire 3. Inspire was in the process of producing a Directory of supported music opportunities, which the Inspire Choir helped to design. It will be available at the SMG Student Concert on 22nd

In Memoriam: AC also reminded the meeting of SMG members and students who had sadly passed away over the past year: Liz Marshall, Betty Pentland, Anne Renshaw, Lilias MacDonald and Lesley Oddy.

Discussion / questions from the floor relating to Chair’s Report:

Volunteers and people with ASN

Linda Campbell (LC) highlighted the donations available through employers; she had accessed the Cash for Communities scheme through her employer RBS which allowed her to volunteer for SMG, with the employer making a donation in the process. In relation to this, and the experience of her son who has additional support needs (ASN) and attends SMG classes, LC enquired as to SMG’s strategy on social inclusion, namely opening up and accessing classes for people like her son and his peer group. She believes that her son’s peers are not aware they could attend SMG classes. LC suggests SMG should be advocating for the whole of society and could there be a peer support or buddy scheme.

LC noted that her employer could give her time to help develop such a policy.

AC suggested that she thinks the SMG board would be broadly supportive but that the board would need to discuss this together in more detail.

SB noted that SMG already supports a variety of people to access SMG classes and events on an ad hoc basis, in part with the support of fellow students, e.g. particular students in the daytime classes at Gorgie. SB felt it would be useful to have a procedure or strategy in place to formalise some of these existing arrangements. In particular, how we establish whether people have ASN, as we currently do not ask this in the enrolment process.

LC highlighted the approach of Fèis Rois and suggested SMG could look at their policy. SB commented that, in contrast to SMG, Fèis Rois is a Creative Scotland RFO (Regularly Funded Organisation) with greater capacity in terms of staffing but agreed it was worth investigating. Mary McCann (MMc) recalled that in the past people with profound issues were supported by Gica Loening.

Retiring tutors

Fiona Harrison wished to record the retiral of tutors Mary McCann and Sylvia McGowan from the Thursday Sing Together class and the meeting warmly applauded. Chris Mahony remarked that ongoing success of Linten Adie would not be possible without Mary’s tutoring skills.

Song Workshops

MMc commented on the song workshops organised during the current year including Margaret Bennett and Sheena Wellington; these were popular and MMc asked for more to be organised.

Café Ceilidh

Trish Santer commented on the success of Café Ceilidh at the Storytelling Centre, with the central location meaning recent events had welcome up to 10 nationalities with visitors from abroad also contributing floor spots. AC agreed that it was nice to be able to offer authentic traditional music in the heart of the Royal Mile vs the various kitsch tourist shops. MMc expressed thanks to Donald Smith and staff at the Storytelling Centre.

Tutor encouragement and student progression

Colin Graham spoke from the tutoring point of view on themes of encouragement, helping beginners, the value of the Christmas Stramash, overcoming nerves and fears, or ‘stramash-itis’! Working together with the whistle class has been very positive and overall it is useful to take into account the different perspectives of students and tutors. AC agreed that Colin’s comments were borne out by the student survey and that SMG offers a positive balance to humdrum of everyday life.

Chris Mahony spoke of her pleasure at seeing the progression of raw beginners through to advanced players at the Student Concert, really admiring and enjoying the process they go through.

Make Music Day

Madeleine Brand noted that 21st June is Make Music Day across Europe and that Nigel’s Allstars were involved, but there appears not to have been much advertising of the event this year so far.
There followed a discussion of the options to help publicise the event and how people had participated previously. It was felt that increasing visibility in places like the Scottish Storytelling Centre would help, and Café Ceilidh would be able to support this. CM also raised the idea of an Edinburgh day for different cultures, Scottish, Polish etc.

In concluding of this part of the discussion, AC noted it was good to reflect on the 2018 minutes and see what has already been taken forward.


PMc presented his report and reminded the meeting that the full accounts are available in the SMG office. The timescale of the accounting year (July-June) means that matters being discussed extend quite far back to July 2017. The results show the outcome of around 2 years’ planning, from a situation where finances had been stable albeit with small losses / surpluses on a recurring basis. With the need to move to new premises and uncertainty as to the final costs, there were also increases to be taken into account for staff, tutors and rent at the Eric Liddell Centre. Financial modelling was done based on a stable class year from 2016-17 to 2017-18.

The last session was a pleasant surprise in terms of increased student enrolment, and some slight changes were made to ceilidh and class pricing. As a result 2017-18 made a bigger surplus than intended which has allowed reserves to be topped up, having nibbled into them a little in previous years due to some projects requiring investment, e.g. the website. With the increase in student numbers, it has been possible to put £13k into reserves to take the fund back to around 6 months’ operating costs, which is recommended for non-profit organisations. AC commented that the surplus is not directly spent, but allows more risks to be taken with a financial cushion.

CG gave thanks to PMc for his work on the accounts, and PMc also acknowledged the work of the office and volunteer bookkeeper Liz Blair. AC observed that PMc has been instrumental in creating a culture allowing the office to access financial information to allow them to do what they need to do and track figures. In recent years, SMG has been more on top of finances, largely through PMc’s stewardship.

MMc gave positive feedback on the newer website and booking system.

SB reminded the board of his request for submissions for a board page on the website.

A short discussion followed regarding the dates of membership renewals, with TS querying the status of SMG members being covered by insurance while playing out on the community, if their membership had expired on 31 July and they had not yet signed up to a new membership / class until sometime later in August. It was suggested that reminders could be sent out to those active in community performance, or that perhaps a direct debit / standing order could be offered for recurring memberships. LC touched on liability cover for members and SB confirmed it works in a way not unlike the Musicians’ Union member insurance scheme.

There were no specific questions from the floor relating to the financial report.


Robin McClintock resigned during the year due to time pressures restricting his ability to attend meetings.

Directors prepared to stand again were: Alison Carlyle, Colin Graham, Fiona Harrison, Paul McIntosh, Eoin McIntyre, Helen Quigley, Edna Wilson.

The reappointment of these directors was proposed by Iain Murray and seconded by Isobel Sheppard.

Jamie Taylor offered to stand for election and was duly appointed, proposed by Trish Santer and seconded by Colin Graham.

There were no further motions from the Board or from the membership.

Alison Carlyle intention to resign

AC stated her intention to step down as Chair and resign from the board during 2019, having been Chair since 2009 and involved with SMG for around 15 years. Alongside a new job and two young children, she feels it is in the interests of the organisation to have a fresh perspective. She will remain in post for the time being until a new Chair is identified and instigate a handover, as well as see through the immediate next phase of the Inspire project. AC paid tribute to SMG staff and the achievements in recent years meaning she can actively leave the organisation in a position of strength.

CG raised a query regarding a potential Vice Chair.

AC commented that this is not required by SMG’s constitution but it may be prudent to have one in the interim.

A short discussion followed regarding directorial duties and numbers of directors. LC asked regarding Companies House, and AC confirmed board members are registered there as company directors. CM asked how many directors SMG could have, AC replied that 16 is the max number, although usually 8 or 9 at any one time.

There were no board motions, and no proposal to increase membership fees, which have to be set by the members. Class fees are decided by the board but the current feeling was to not increase fees next year, although this would be decided towards the summer.

Other questions / comments from members during the meeting

David Stevenson advised that the Edinburgh Mandolin and Guitar Orchestra would be taking part in a major event in 2020 along with the British Banjo Mandolin and Guitar Federation, who have a big jamboree every 2 years. It will be in Edinburgh around February time, which ought to be taken into account re the SMG AGM timing. It takes place at Merchiston Castle School, a weekend of concerts, workshops, competitions and trade stands in various genres.

A discussion of the website and newsletter was held, considering how people accessed information, with compliments on the newsletter, and suggestions as to a Forum page or a more prominent Diary section, perhaps moving the news listings. SB explained that there were some limitations due to the modular nature of the website but that the office would take the suggestions on board for future revisions of the website.

ML asked where we thought SMG people were coming from, how they connected with SMG. SB commented that word of mouth was still a large factor, based on recent surveys, but AC noted that SMG has a good retention rate which also creates a ripple effect in terms of bringing new people to classes.

CG commented that trends change from year to year, particularly in the less traditional instruments, and it can be hard to gauge interest when planning the new term.  He noted that for his own ukulele classes, specific flyering had been helpful via music shops and other events.

The formal business was concluded with SB reading a statement on Sarah Northcott’s behalf, in tribute to AC:

“I’m very sorry not to be able to say this in person. On behalf of the Inspire Project staff, tutors, volunteers and the hundreds of people we have worked with so far, I’d like to thank Alison for all her hard work so far on our behalf. She has essentially been our manager throughout the different phases of the project and as such has been a great champion of the work we’ve done and helped us to develop into the new organisation we are creating today. Her flexibility, forward thinking and understanding of what we want to achieve have been a major factor in our evolution.

On a personal note, I’m very grateful for the support she has given me, always being open to new ideas (which I know has involved listening politely to some of the crazier suggestions I’ve come up with!) We’re very fortunate that she’ll be helping us to take the next steps in our journey.

Sarah Northcott March 2019.”

The afternoon ended with a session led by Ceilidh Caleerie. Several members had brought their instruments and joined the very enjoyable selection of music and stepdance.

Steve Byrne 06.03.2019

SMG Newsletters

Read our current and past email newsletters to find out the latest info on SMG classes and events.

View our newsletter archive or subscribe to receive future editions.

We usually send email newsletters out once or twice a term.

Your SMG Board

Edna Wilson
Although I always liked folk music, I got interested in traditional music when I lived in Dublin – that was a revelation! However I only started playing an instrument seriously when I moved to London and had lessons with Pete Cooper. When I returned to Scotland in 2015 I joined the Scots Music Group fiddle class and became re-enthused. I wanted to have a constructive retirement and give back something to SMG so volunteered for the Board. Getting involved has been so interesting and I have learned such a lot about the organisation, including helping in the office and supporting our events. So different from my previous working life.
Paul McIntosh
Paul was born in Nairn, and holds a BSc Hons Physics and an MBA degree.  He retired in 2015, having followed a technical and management career in the Information & Communications Technology and Oil & Gas sectors.  He was a director of his own small ICT consultancy for 15 years.  Paul has been involved with SMG as a student since about 2004, and plays guitar in the Ceilidh Caleerie dance band.  He has been Treasurer on the SMG Board since 2015.
Helen Quigley
Board Member
Singing, clàrsach
My mother was a Scots song singer, so I was familiar with traditional music from an early age. I spent my working life in England, but when I came back here I took up the clarsach as a way into traditional music, joining an SMG mixed instrument class and then playing in the slow session. I have also sung in several SMG groups. I have been on the Board for two years and enjoy helping SMG to promote traditional music: not only through the classes, but also by its community projects and out-reach activities.
Fiona Harrison
Board Member
Fiddle, guitar, singing
I have been a member of the Scots Music Group for over 15 years and sat on the Board for about ten years. Its a wonderful organisation which has something for everyone and can change lives.  I never imagined that I would play traditional music, or that I would learn to play the violin before I joined. Traditional music is addictive. For me, it led to going on to study music and composition after giving up my day job.  I have also made many friends and have had lots of great experiences. The tuition is fantastic and we are always interested in and grateful for new ideas. Being a board member is a good way to become more involved in the organisation and I would encourage everyone who might be interested in this, or other ways of volunteering, to get in touch.
Jamie Taylor
Board Member
Fiddle, smallpipes, whistle
I started going to SMG classes in the mid 90s and have been unable to kick the habit. I help to manage the Ceilidh Caleerie band and I’m a Balerno Busker, both of which raise money for SMG. By day I’m (just) still an engineer, historically mostly in wave and wind energy. I joined the board in 2019.
Hellen MacPherson
Board Member
Singing, fiddle, whistle
My musical influences growing up were mainly classical piano, recorders and singing the occasional solo and choral singing in the Edinburgh Royal Choral Union and now Jubilo   My father was very involved in the Edinburgh Burns scene and I was ‘encouraged’ to attend many Burns’ Suppers!
It wasn’t until after I retired that I discovered SMG and Mary McCann’s wonderful Singing Together class, followed a few years later by my decision, after a gap of 60 years, to pick up my violin and for the first time ever learn to play Scottish fiddle. It’s work in progress! I then joined Nigel Gatherer’s Mixed Instrument Group with my descant recorder but dedicated myself during COVID lockdown to mastering the Whistle.
I have so appreciated SMG, its tutors and the enthusiasm and dedication in promoting Scotland’s traditional music and am very happy to be a member of the Board and give my tuppence-worth.
Bill Savage
Board Member
Ceilidh dancer

Details to follow

Find our office…

The Scots Music Group office is based in the Eric Liddell Community.

We usually work between the hours of 10am – 5pm on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday but this can vary depending on meetings, staff holidays and other commitments.

SMG has two part-time staff, Coordinator Helen Reid (21 hours per week), and Interim Development Worker Sarah Northcott (15 hours per week).

Find our classes…

Mixed Instrument 1

Gorgie Dalry Stenhouse Church
190 Gorgie Road
EH11 2NX

Venue fully accessible.

Mixed Instrument 2

Morningside United Church
15 Chamberlain Road
EH10 4DJ

Venue fully accessible. Please use entrance on Chamberlain Road.

Mixed Instrument 3D

Bruntsfield Evangelical Church
70 Leamington Terrace
EH10 4JU

Upper Hall is fully accessible.

Daytime Song Session &

Sing Together

Christ Church Centre
6A Morningside Road
EH10 4DD

Venue fully accessible. Parking in grounds available for disabled participants only, where permission is given.


St Bride’s Centre
10 Orwell Terrace
EH11 2DZ

Venue is accessible. Centre staff will open café door for wheelchair access.

Cafe Ceilidh

Scottish Storytelling Centre
43 High Street

Venue is accessible to wheelchair users and there is Braille signage throughout.

Piano Accordion






Mixed Instrument 3E

Banjo (in person classes only)


James Gillespie’s High School
57 Lauderdale Street

All classes are held on level 2, in The Malala Building – the main teaching block.

Sangstream meet in The Forum on level 1 on Thursday.

Pedestrian access: ramp access to The Malala Building and The Muriel Spark Building from both the Warrender Park Road entrances and the Whitehouse Loan car park


  • Parking: disabled parking bays in the small car park accessible on Warrender Park Road for disabled badge holders only
  • Lift access: into The Malala Building from Warrender Park Road car park. Look for the large traffic cone which the school uses to hold the entrance door open, and see the annotated image below. The lift gives access to level 1 (Forum) and level 2 where most of our classes are held.
Contact Us

Send Message

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Scots Music Group
Eric Liddell Community
15 Morningside Road
EH10 4DP

+44 (0)131 555 7668