Highland Young Musicians represents and promotes 8 Regional Music Groups which are run as an extension to the work of the Instrumental Tuition Service in the Highland Council area. These are the Highland Regional Youth Orchestra (HRYO), ‘snas (ceilidh band), Highland Schools Wind Band (HSWB), Còisir G (Regional Gaelic choir), Highland Youth String Orchestra (HYSO), Highland Youth Pipe Band (HYPB), Highland Youth Big Band (HYBB) & the Highland Youth Choir (HYC). These groups provide an ideal extension to the many school and area groups which already exist. Here, Evie May fills us in on her own experience with Highland Young Musicians so far.
My name is Evie and I am 15 years old from Ullapool. This is my first year of being involved in the Highland Young Musicians project ‘Snas. ‘Snas is basically a big folk group. We are made up of about 25 young musicians and play traditional Scottish music in sets that often have a cool quirky twist as well. There are four amazing tutors that come up with the arrangements and keep us on track, they are very friendly. My fiddle teacher is one of the tutors and suggested at the start of the year that I audition for the group. And with her advice I decided to give it a go.
There was an audition day at Easter at Millburn academy in Inverness. There were a lot of people there! The auditions for all the other groups (HYSO, Jazz, Wind etc.) so there was drums, trombones, fiddles, and double bases, any instrument you can think of. All the people auditioning for ‘Snas were in a workshop all day learning tunes with the wonderful Charlie McKerron which was a great experience in itself and then we were just called out for our solo auditions in groups of 2 or 3. I thought I would be so nervous, and don’t get me wrong, I was! But when I actually got to my audition, the tutors made you feel so at ease and it was lovely and informal. I played two tunes on my fiddle for them, fiddle being my main instrument. Once it was over I got to enjoy the rest of the day. There were so many great musicians there that I really didn’t think I would get in.
I got a letter in the post, (A little happy dance was a must at this point) I got in! I was so pleased and couldn’t wait to get started.
We get together every 6 weeks or so and it is on the Friday night and Saturday. So we go to school on the Friday and then get a minibus to Inverness (yeah…no day off school) we practise from about 6:30 till 9 and then because I live a wee bit away I stay residentially. Lots of other folk do this to and we all get on a double-decker bus to the accommodation. Then you find your room and meet who you are sharing with, then usually we order pizza or just have free social time before getting some sleep as it is a very tiring 2 days with lots of hard work.
I have my first performance with the group coming up and that will be in Aviemore. We also do other performances throughout the year in Inverness as well. Going to ‘Snas has definitely made me step out of my comfort zone but this has been a great thing and I have made new pals and met lots of other like minded people. I shall be going to ‘Snas until the Easter I think and hopefully will re audition for it again next year. I am hoping that this will continue to help me gain confidence and improve my playing. Maybe even lead on to something bigger one day.
If you are thinking of auditioning for one of the HYM groups then my advice would be to just go for it, as long as you are willing to work hard then you will have a great time and get so many amazing experiences from it. I certainly have.