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
Your SMG Board
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Details to follow
I moved to Edinburgh from Kent in 2012, I was new to the City and didn’t know many people here. I loved Scottish and Irish folk music and started to go to gigs and sessions, never imagining I could do more than listen. I had no previous musical background, couldn’t read music, couldn’t tell you what a ‘key’ was, yet through SMG and the superb tutors teaching ‘by ear’ I was able to learn some tunes ! Playing music with others has been a revelation , and I have made some good friends, so now as a new member of the Board I hope to make a contribution to the continued success of SMG.
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, workshops, ceilidhs & sessions…
Mixed Instrument 1
Gorgie Dalry Stenhouse Church
190 Gorgie Road
Venue fully accessible.
Mixed Instrument 2 &
Mixed Instrument 3D
Morningside United Church
15 Chamberlain Road
Venue fully accessible. Please use entrance on Chamberlain Road.
Daytime Song Session &
Christ Church Centre
6A Morningside Road
Venue fully accessible. Parking in grounds available for disabled participants only, where permission is given.
Greyfriars Charteris Centre
Venue is accessible
St Bride’s Centre
10 Orwell Terrace
Venue is accessible. Centre staff will open café door for wheelchair access.
Scottish Storytelling Centre
43 High Street
Venue is accessible to wheelchair users and there is Braille signage throughout.
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 meets in The Dining Hall in the Muriel Spark Building.
Pedestrian access: ramp access to The Malala Building and The Muriel Spark Building/Dining Hall 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. The lift gives access to level 1 (Forum) and level 2 where most of our classes are held.
Scots Music Group
Eric Liddell Community
15 Morningside Road
+44 (0)131 555 7668