Wednesday, 17 March 2010




So short sighted we should be putting more money and effort into our children and showcasing their work NOT LESS please sign the petition to help ..

The Petition

The Highland Council propose to make severe cuts to funding of Instrumental Tuition in schools from financial year 2011/12 onwards and are currently undertaking a consultation process (see
The level of proposed cuts would deny Highland of a comprehensive tuition system which promotes access and excellence, for ever. It would not only mean removing the only source of tuition for many who wish to pursue music as a career, but would also mean that many young people would not be able to experience the sense of achievement and satisfaction gained from learning musical skills.
The Regional Music Groups (all seven of them) and Area Music Groups would be severely restricted in the experiences they can give talented young musicians ( which would mean a sad loss to the whole area, once again denying access to musical training of the highest calibre and an important social contact network.

This proposal goes against every aspect of Curriculum for Excellence and we urge The Highland Council to reconsider this option and invest in the area's talent and abilities rather than denying all our young people a vital opportunity.

About Highland Regional Music Groups

There are now SEVEN Regional Music Groups, run as an extension to the work of the Instrumental Tuition Service in Highland. Membership for all the groups is by audition / invitation after an annual Audition Day and members are drawn from all areas of Highland.
Highland Regional Youth Orchestra (HRYO)
Highland Schools Wind Band (HSWB)
Highland Youth String Orchestra (HYSO)
Highland Youth Big Band (HYBB)
‘snas (ceilidh band)
Còisir G (Regional Gaelic choir)
Highland Youth Pipe Band (HYPB)

Regional Groups provide an ideal extension to the many school and area groups which already exist. They are an ideal opportunity for members to make friends amongst many of the 2500 Highland pupils who receive tuition in our schools whilst promoting a high standard of musicianship. Many members of Highland Regional Music Groups are also members of national instrumental & vocal ensembles.

Due to the nature of Highland geography, the groups meet for intensive rehearsal weekends rather than weekly practices. There are normally two rehearsal weekends before December each year then a third which involves a performance. This pattern is repeated between January and April. Performances are given in a variety of Highland venues and are normally advertised on the Hi-Arts website.

There is also a history of Regional Groups performing in other areas of Scotland, and abroad.
In June 2006, HRYO gave Concerts of an extremely high standard in Edinburgh and Glasgow. Guest soloist at both these events was Wilma MacDougall, soprano. This tour also included HYBB who were subsequently invited to attend a Youth Music Festival in Kristianstad, Sweden – a trip which was made in June 2007. March 2007 also saw another ‘first’ for HRYO, when they performed with BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra in Aviemore’s McDonald Highland Resort. The programme contained the world premiere of a specially commissioned piece for double orchestra – John Macleod’s Fling!

All the Regional Groups are grateful for the continued support of The Friends of Highland Young Musicians. This group of supportive parents provide practical assistance at Concerts when required and continue to seek much-needed sources of finance for the replacement of instruments, equipment and the subsidy of a number of the Groups’ activities. 

More details of any of the Groups, or more information about performances can be obtained from Norman Bolton, Highland Council’s Music Development Officer on 01349 863441 or at:

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Andy the Daft Hermit lives 45 minutes outside Inverness with his wife Mel in an old bus parked in a layby. This current home of theirs is the longest they have ever stayed in one spot. “I’ve been travelling now 25 years,” said Andy Lowe. “Mel’s been travelling 15. One of the reasons we’ve come and stayed up here is because of Mel’s health. I wanted to bring her to the mountains for fresh air and clean water and just a slower pace of life.” Mel has had breast cancer twice, skin cancer once, and for three years believed she had bone cancer after being wrongly diagnosed. Andy’s belief in the restorative powers of the north made them pack up ‘The Black Bus’ that they live in and cross the border into Scotland. New Highland home for hermit couple Andy and Mel “I think we both believe in trying to get to a more simple way of life,” said Andy, “but it’s strange for us because we are sort of hermits, or we like to live separate, but it’s not being anti-social… it’s just the way we are that allows us to be creative.” Andy first began travelling when he left the army. Fed up with bureaucracy he packed a rucksack and left for France and has been travelling ever since. By investing any money the couple have earned into solar panels and wind generators they now live a self-sustaining existence, without electric bills, and collect rain water “straight from Heaven”. “It’s not easy,” said Mel. “There might be time when there might not be enough facilities around, but you always find a way, you know?” Rather than rejecting technology, Andy blogs about his travels online and collaborates with artists from around the world via his ‘Scratchy Heid Film Studio’, which he runs from a static trailer next to the couple’s bus. He explained his philosophy: “My belief is that if you can go through life and you drop dead and you’ve got a balance there that slightly outweighs the good than the bad, you’ve done alright. “Yesterday, with what Mel’s been through with the cancer and all that, I had a woman on one of my sites there that thanked me for the writing, for the positive things, and to me that’s worth everything. You can keep your millions, we’re not interested. That is what we do.” To check out Andy’s artwork and video projects check out his website. MORE FROM THE NORTH

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