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.

Our Book of Remembrance

We wish to celebrate the lives of all those who have been an integral part of the SMG family.  Whether as students, tutors or members of our staff and board, we are grateful for all they did for us and join with you all in mourning their passing.

We invite you all to leave a comment, a note of remembrance, for Heather below:

Heather Harbinson

As we can’t meet in person to remember Heather, we’ve set up this page where you can leave memories and stories.

Following a stroke a few months ago, Heather sadly passed away in the early hours of the morning on Sunday 6th December, at home and surrounded by her family. Heather was a regular SMG student for many years, and also played in Ceilidh Caleerie and other groups who performed in the community. She was a generous supporter of SMG, and we’ll always remember her enthusiasm, her sense of humour, her support for others and of course her fabulous cello playing which always brought an extra dimension to the music.

Please note that to avoid spam we have to approve each comment before it will come up on the page, so there may be a delay before you can see your comment. If you wish to include a photo please email it to and it will be uploaded.


These comments were made in December 2020 & January 2021 on SMG’s previous website:

Fiona Harrison

I have known Heather for many years and played with her in many places including our last trip to Spain where she was my roommate for a week! It’s a shock that she had a stroke as she was active and playing her cello not so long ago.

We shall all miss her dreadfully for her warm friendship and companionship as well as her musicianship. The memories will live on and I will think of her and her cello often.

Joy McKaigue

I first met Heather when she lived next door to some friends of mine when she stayed in Haddington, now 20+ years ago. I went to her a few years later for a remedial massage, after I had enrolled in SMG (then ALP), and I chatted to her about my thrilling new hobby, learning to play fiddle by ear at almost 50. Ah, she said, tell me about ALP. I can play piano, but I would really like to play the cello…..and the rest is history, as related here by her many friends and fellow musicians. Heather also joined the community orchestra Fiddlesticks when there was a call out for cellists. Not really our kind of music we agreed (but for me the unique opportunity to play with my granddaughter), as for Heather, she was just happy to help out and support the project.

A big miss for so many people.

Peter “Pav” Verity

Heather was an interesting, strong-minded & characterful friend and musician (& never hesitated to tell me if I wasn’t playing a bassline to her expected standard) – she is missed. I always enjoyed playing at her cottage & having a tour of the garden.

Jan Bundy

Over the years it was always a pleasure to play in groups where Heather was playing. I also knew her from her love of singing with the Edinburgh choir Gaudete and we often travelled together for that. She enjoyed sharing her love of nature and natural remedies. I had the happy experience of several massages from Heather as she was a trained massage therapist (and Qi Kung teacher). We shared a holiday in Spain one year and she loved terrain where the coast has a backdrop of mountains. I recall her adept driving round the precipitous mountain S bends! I will really miss her, her generosity of nature, her kindness and brightness of disposition. As I type I can hear her way of speaking. She is sadly missed.

David Tweedie

As well as all the mixed instrument and busking opportunities we both took part in, we were part of the wonderful trips to Spain. This picture is of a group singing at Peñiscola Castle in 2009 which included Heather, Trish and me as well as three others.

At another gig, at Castellón, my wife Yvonne tore her Plantaris Tendon dancing the Strip the Willow and she remembers how caring and concerned Heather was. That’s the sort of person she always was, in singing, playing the cello and as a friend. She’ll be greatly missed for all her fine qualities.

Trish Santer

As everyone else here has said, Heather will be so much missed; for her warm and friendly personality, her musicianship, encouragement, support and generosity of spirit. I first met her in 2009 and have enjoyed many a class, workshop and gig with her: Spain twice, Ceilidh Caleerie often, Blazin’ in Beauly and Rick Taylor’s courses several times – just don’t mention the cornflakes at the B & B! The summer sessions at her house were a joy – lovely home-made soup – and busking with Caleerie and Balerno Buskers, and the various indoor gigs – “from Care Homes to Cathedrals” was our slogan. The cellos did add so much depth and texture to the music. So very sad that she did not have longer with us – sleep well, dear friend.



Frank Cowie

I have two pages of music for “The Lark in the Clear Air” which Heather gave me after she played it (beautifully of course) in a break out group at Lilias’ 80th at N Q’ferry. She said at the time it was her all time favourite tune and offered to give me the dots and did so about a week later. The melody copy has “to Heather” pencilled on it – the other page is the harmony. A wee memento of a lovely lady. Always a pleasure, always a smile.

Martin & Fiona Jones

So very sad to hear this news. We got to know Heather when she joined our East Lothian ‘Concessionaires’ Scottish music group. She played with us many times at our various house sessions and at her cottage in Winton. She also joined us at the Longniddry Inn folk night bringing a very welcome baseline to our music. As others have said she was a very lovely person and we recall that she always had a twinkle in her eye. She had a remarkable vegetable patch and we were happy to receive the benefits of the apples from her trees. We shall miss her very much and always be saddened by not being able to visit her after her stroke (because of Covid restrictions).

Les Morss

We shall miss Heather such a lot. She was always such a friendly presence in the classes and we always looked forward to the sessions she hosted at her cottage during the summer recess. And we shall always be indebted to her for introducing us to Rick Taylor’s great ensemble weeks on Skye where Heather with the other cellists provided the backbone to all Rick’s wonderful arrangements. The late Rick Taylor – another sadly missed musician.

Alan Grieve

So sad, I shall miss Heather. It was always a pleasure having her next to me in the back line at gigs, her wry sense of humour always adding a spark to the evening. Heather was also a very generous lady. I remember several years ago Heather trying to persuade me to come on one of the Spanish trips, she even offered to pay half my fare. Sadly due to circumstances at the time I could not make the trip but I shall never forget Heather’s kindness.

Trish Davis

I first got to know Heather thro’ SMG classes and then in the years between 2013 and 2019 Heather, Win and I made an annual trip in April to Skye to participate in Rick Taylor’s magical musical ensemble. (Sadly Rick is now deceased). We shared various cottages on the island as well as family stories and all the time enjoying one another’s company! The days were filled with music making and in the evening we ate in the local restaurants in the Bradford area, following that up with community singing ……vocal chords suitably loosened by red wine! We truly had a fun time. Such happy memories. Heather will be greatly missed by friends here and on Skye.


I agree with every word written here. Sadly I never made it to her house and garden in the summer, but enjoyed her company with others throughout the 10 years I have known her. She played in our garden room with other Tuesday class members, and Balerno Buskers as well. We all miss her. So sad too.  And I love this photo of her.

Jamie Taylor

Heather was one of two brilliant cellists that gave delicious warm musical bedrock to the Ceilidh Caleerie band. (Sue Sellar was the other) and we will miss her dearly. She must have played at least fifty gigs of all kinds with us. She was always on the note, focussed in rehearsals, super enthusiastic about the crazy events that we turned up to (although usually compressed into an absurdly tiny space) and kindly supportive to jobbing players of my sort. When she was free, she joined with others of us in Trish Santer’s Balerno Buskers at the monthly farmers market and added real class to the proceedings. To me, there was a touch of the exotic about this super woman who has gone from us far too soon.

Douglas Scrimger

I first met Heather about 12years ago at Wendy Wetherby’s Cello class and more recently in Sarah’s the mixed instrument class .In all that time she was like a mentor to me and tried (often in vain) to improve my Cello technique. I learned a lot just sitting beside her in class and she would tell me off if I got something wrong but always in a friendly and encouraging way. I will miss her greatly, not just in a musical sense but for her cheery outlook and lovely manner.

Joanna Cameron

Great lady. There were lovely laid back summer sessions at her hilltop enclave, she was fun and am so glad to have known her.

Karen Beattie

Heather was one of the loveliest people I have ever known. I will miss her greatly, always so kind and thoughtful of others. Her musicianship was wonderful.

Elizabeth Marroni

A few years back The Edinburgh Mandolin and Guitar Orchestra were fortunate to enjoy Heather’s company for about 18 months at their Thursday evening rehearsals. Her willingness to take on new repertoire together with her resonant cello contributions were a very welcome additional to our overall sound, giving a rich bass foundation to several of our pieces. We very much appreciated her presence when she was able to attend, as well as her good company and wonderful musicianship. I am sure she will be sorely missed by many with whom she has played, encouraged and enjoyed music with. EMGO extend their sincere condolences and their best wishes to her family.

Liz Marroni, Chairperson, on behalf of EMGO

Simon Cooper

Happy memories of playing out at her cottage on summer Tuesdays followed by lunch in the garden. She was very welcoming to me when I first joined Sarah’s class and I soon came to appreciate her musicianship. I will miss her.

Jim Robertson

Lovely lady. She’ll be missed. Heather’s Waltz will be a favourite at SMG.

Helen Quigley

I visited Heather last summer and admired the Alstromerias in her garden. Without missing a beat, she pulled one out and handed it to me! They’re tender, so I asked how to protect it in the winter. “Oh, I just pull bits of sheep wool off the fences” she told me. Not so easy to arrange in Newington, Heather, but I’ll keep it as long as I can in your memory.

Thank you Helen Q

Nicola McNeill

Heather was a lovely person who gave so much to all, and was always there with a smile and warmth for all. We shared many laughs at Cray house, in Spain and on many more musical and other occasions. I loved hearing her cello when playing in class and with Ceilidh Caleerie. I shall miss her and her passions, greatly and can see and hear her now.




Carole Ross

Just as her cello playing brought another dimension to any music we played, Heather’s presence enhanced any gathering. She was open, friendly and fun and I enjoyed her company immensely. I shall miss her a lot.

David Stephenson

What a lovely photo of a lovely person – I am sure that is how we will all remember her. As Sarah has said, Heather was a big part of all of our music but my happiest memories will be of many Tuesday mornings of informal music in her cottage, followed by lunch and chat in her lovingly tended garden. It was summer time and it seems like the weather was always kind to us when we visited Heather.

Eoin McIntyre

Lovely memories of an engaging character.

Kate Morss

Heather was so kind and encouraging of others. She enthused us to get involved in music of all kinds, so much the richer are we for that. This photo illustrates her fun-loving nature as well. She goes, singing and playing, away from us.





Sue Sellar

I first met Heather at cello workshops run by Wendy Weatherby at SMG one summer term. Happy memories of playing alongside her in Ceilidh Caleerie (Dancing the Baby intro!) and fun times at Ceilidh Caleerie in Spain (Dancing with Cellos, to the tune of Where do you go to my lovely?).

Getting name bands for Pablo and Jose? Our borrowed cellos in Alcossebre. Blazing in Beauly (sharing a room in The Priory, hilarious late- night sessions); Alastair and Natalie workshops at Celtic Connections. So much fun 💕💕

Cathy and George Davidson

Heather went out of her way to welcome us to the SMG when my wife and I were newcomers. We enjoyed visiting her house and garden during the summer plays and welcomed her to our home where she simply brightened up the group. We will miss her greatly.

1 Comment

  1. What a feisty soul! A fine musician and amusing company. Much missed. Eòin


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Heather Harbinson playing cello