I am really delighted to say that I have been awarded a place and a scholarship to study music at Berklee College of Music
in Boston. I am totally over the moon and rather excited about it!
I really want to take the time to study all aspects of music and performance, to be the best I possibly can, to learn new music (American Roots music, Jazz etc) and to meet and play with new lots of people from all sorts of backgrounds. I know this is absolutely the right course for me and I'm determined to go, but I am in need of a bit of help.
I'm so close to making this happen, with the scholarship I have been awarded from Berklee and a few other UK and US trust funds, I just need to raise enough to pay for the cost of living in Boston. It's a cliché, but every little really does help and I appreciate your support, even if that just means sharing this campaign among friends or anyone who might be interested in what I have to offer as 'rewards'.
I am really lucky to have grown up surrounded by music, art, history, tradition and the beautiful, inspiring landscapes of Orkney. I've been playing fiddle since I was 7 or 8 years old, taught by the fantastic Douglas Montgomery (Saltfishforty/The Chair) and through the Orkney Traditional Music Project.
Douglas and his Orphir fiddlers.. I'm the goofy one on the right..
After a year studying art at the Orkney College and having a hoot working and teaching at the Wrigley Sisters' Centre of Music, I left Orkney for Glasgow and studied for four years at the Glasgow School or Art, where I gained an honours Degree in Visual Communications, specializing in photography. (After graduating, I remember thinking I never wanted to study again...)
While still at uni, I immersed myself in Glasgow's vibrant and diverse music scene and began playing with many different musicians and bands, such as Skalder, Rachel Sermanni, Alistair Ogilvy and Gria. Since finishing the course, I've been working freelance as a musician and a photographer and have continued to live in Glasgow. I've had the honour of photographing and designing album artwork for a number of fantastic musicians such as Lau, Blazin Fiddles, Mairearad & Anna, Bella Hardy, Fat-Suit and so many more. I played live on BBC TVs Hogmanay Show with Rachel Sermanni, played fiddle in Belle and Sebastian front-man Stuart Murdoch's film God Help the Girl, have won awards with Gria and Skalder and travelled far and wide to play music. My latest group, Fara, have a great summer of festivals lined up and we plan to record our debut album in July. Most recently, I've been working on a project which combines my love of music, photography, travel and my interest in family history; 'Out of My Own Light.'
In 2013 I travelled to Canada and the US to work on 'Out of My Own Light', retracing the steps of my Grandmother, and another creative project, which looks at the musical links with Cape Breton. I also had the most inspirational week at Valley of the Moon fiddle camp, playing and learning music, with the best bunch of people, in the beautiful redwoods of California. During my time at the camp, at Celtic Colours festival in Cape Breton and in all the places I visited in-between, I realised that there is so much more I would like to learn and experience and I kept feeling completely overwhelmed by everything I wanted to do. After a particularly inspiring concert in Cape Breton and chatting to one of the musicians involved, who is a graduate of Berklee, I decided to take her advice and check out the college while I was in Boston. I met a lot of great people, sat in on some classes, spoke to students and lecturers and decided that it is definitely the right place for me to learn everything I want to and more. I auditioned and I am over the moon to have been awarded a place and a generous scholarship from Berklee's own merit-based scholarship fund.
Happy faces at Valley of the Moon fiddle camp, 2013
Sadly, studying in the US really is not cheap! (Or even affordable, certainly not without a lot of support. I am extremely grateful for the Scottish Government allowing me to achieve my Visual Communications Degree from GSA without racking up too much debt.)
Berklee gives an idea of the costs involved on their website. I have been awarded a scholarship of $30,000 towards my fees, which is a huge honour. As well as this, I've applied to countless trusts and scholarships, have looked at all the possibilities for student loans (there are none...) and such like. So far have received promise of generous support from the Hope Scott Trust, the Robertson Scholarship Trust and the St Andrews Society of Washington DC, which is fantastic. I'm still a wee bit away from what is needed to pay fees and get by and so this is why I am turning to my family and friends for some help.
Berklee estimate of costs:
Off-campus room & board: $13,378
Health Insurance $2,233
Personal expenses $1,203
Transportation $967 (although I imagine with international flights, this will be more for me)
Estimated living costs = $18,255 (approx £12,000)
I hope to be able to raise at least £8000 to help towards these costs.
I've come up with a whole bunch of photography and music related things which I hope you might like, in return for helping me out. I am also very open to (sensible!) suggestions. I hope there is something I can do to say 'thank-you' for your support! Please get in touch if you have questions about any of the rewards, particularly for dates, locations, travel and such like. I leave for Boston in September, so I will make sure to fulfil my promises before then!
Doug helped me write my first tune; 'Olsen's Wedding Jig.' I'm proud to say that I can now write tunes 'all by mine self' (as my sister used to say!) although they often do still end up having 'interesting' rhythm..
Have a look at a few of my tunes here and listen to some here:
Check out my website/Facebook page to have a look at my photography, let me know if there is something you'd like a print of, or if you have an idea for a photo shoot you'd like to do with me:
Check out some of my musician portraits here:
And some of my design work here:
Listen to my playing:
Find out more about 'Out of My Own Light':
Thankyou!I really appreciate your support in helping me realise this dream, I can't thank you enough! I hope you'll come visit me in Boston, but please don't all come at once..
To my Boston friends, I can't wait to see you in September and to meet many more of you!