Do I need to read music to join a SMG class?

Scots Music Group encourages teaching and learning by ear. If you are new to this method of learning, don’t panic! Tutors will teach slowly and will work at a pace suitable to the group.  It is highly recommended that you bring a recording device to your class.

Tutors will also share music and songs as the class prefers, for example with photocopies or a cloud storage facility, e.g. Dropbox.

Learning is also supported by a variety of SMG resources produced to promote a common repertoire:

    • three Session Tune Books that contain popular tunes you will hear at sessions
    • two CDs of the tunes from Session Tune Books 1 and 2
    • two Songbooks

These are available to purchase at classes and from the SMG office.

What if the class is too slow or too fast for me?

As long as there are spaces available, it’s possible to transfer your enrolment to a class at a different level. Speak to your tutor on the first week or two to see if they agree that the class level is right for you. All fiddle and guitar classes run on the same night for this purpose, to allow students to settle into a level which suits them.  If you do move to a different class, please inform the tutors and the office, so we can add your name to the register and make a space available in the class you are moving from.

Why are all your fiddle classes on the same night?

Most of our single instrument classes are held on the same night to make it easier for you to change to another level if you feel you have enrolled in a class that’s too slow or too fast for you. Speak to your tutor on the first week or two to see if they agree that the class level is right for you. If you do move to a different class, please inform the tutors and the office, so we can add your name to the register and make a space available in the class you are moving from.

I’ve learnt classical music. What level class should I join?

Have a look at our deciding your level page for more information. If you are learning to play the fiddle, have a look at the webpages for classes at different levels. You’ll find links to videos of classes learning a bit of a tune, and also a video of a typical tune that might be taught at each level. Speak to your tutor on the first week or two to see if they agree that the class level is right for you. All fiddle and guitar classes run on the same night for this purpose, to allow students to settle into a level which suits them.  If you do move to a different class, please inform the tutors and the office, so we can add your name to the register and make a space available in the class you are moving from.

What instruments can I play in a mixed instrument class?

Any acoustic instruments that can play in a range of keys can be brought along to any of our mixed instrument classes. It is also possible to bring along other instruments such as smallpipes, whistles, moothies, bodhráns etc. For some of the mixed instrument classes, we ask you to specify the instrument(s) you plan to play when you enrol.

If you are unsure, please contact the office for more information.

What’s the easiest instrument to learn?

How easy an instrument is depends on your previous experience. If you are drawn towards playing a particular instrument, you are more likely to be motivated to play regularly and progress with your playing. A good starter instrument for those with little musical experience is ukulele or whistle.

I want to learn the….... Why don’t you have a class?

Scots Music Group is a small community-based charity. We aim to make traditional music tuition and events as accessible as possible, through providing a wide range of reasonably priced classes and events. In the past we relied on grant funding to run classes in less commonly played instruments. Since we no longer receive this funding, we are self-sustaining and now focus on running classes that are financially viable.  If there is a class you would like us to consider running in the future, please contact the office.

Where can I buy/hire an instrument?

Have a look at our links pages for buying.

How can I learn to play faster?

This will vary depending on what instrument you are learning to play, but here are some general tips:

  • To start with, pick easy tunes that you are very familiar with playing.
  • If there are bits in the tune that you find tricky to play, practice these until you can play them confidently, before you try speeding the tune up. Some recording devices allow you to vary the speed of playback to help with learning tunes.
  • Check whether there are particular areas of technique you need to work on.
  • Practise the tune really slowly first, until you are confident you are playing it well.
  • Practise playing the tune and staying relaxed.
  • Think about how you are phrasing the tune, and be sure you have the key notes.
  • Practise playing the tune with a metronome, to learn to keep your playing speed under control. Once you can play a tune well at a certain speed, set the metronome slightly faster and try again.
  • Learn more tunes, so you become familiar with different note patterns in tunes.
  • Listen to lots of music, to hear what more experienced players are doing with phrasing etc.

Can my daughter/son/baby come along with me?

Scots Music Group classes are currently for adults aged 18 and over, and we do not permit family members or friends to attend, both out of courtesy to your fellow students and the fact that our insurance covers only registered students and members of SMG. The Edinburgh Youth Gaitherin runs workshops for young people aged 9-18.

Where can I meet other musicians?

Coming along to any of our classes is a great way to start! Alternatively, join one of the many regular pub sessions around Edinburgh.

What is the layout of James Gillespie’s High School?

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