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St Andrews music awards success

An innovative music collaboration project, led by the University of St Andrews, triumphs at the Scottish Awards for New Music 2021.

Children take part in virtual trumpet lessons

The St Andrews Music Participation (StAMP) project was crowned winner of The Royal Conservatoire Scotland Award for Education/Community Project at the New Music awards ceremony, which took place online this week (Wednesday 7 July 2021). The award celebrates projects that engage with the local community, bringing the opportunity to teach and engage with music.

St Andrews Music Participation (StAMP) is a five-year music education project in Fife that aims to support and invigorate the cultural heritage of brass playing in schools, in the community, and across the world. The project is a partnership between the University of St Andrews Laidlaw Music Centre, Fife Music Service, Fife Brass Bands and The Wallace Collection.

The project provides children with the opportunity to learn about the history of brass and to create new music that explores and reflects the world we live in today. Historically connected to industry, Fife has a long and established tradition of brass playing with more than 130 bands in existence in the nineteenth century. Though many of the pits, mines and factories have closed, the music continues to this day with eight active bands operating in the region.

In 2020 the project evolved to adapt to the pandemic, delivering an online programme whilst maintaining its original aims to teach children and young people in Fife to play the trumpet and to bring people together to play brass music. The project developed to provide children with the opportunity to learn the trumpet at home, via Zoom, using the Discovering Brass method, developed by members of The Wallace Collection. Initially 76 children and young people were accepted on to the scheme and polycarbonate natural trumpets were delivered direct to homes along with a specially written tutor book ready for Zoom lessons to begin with their tutor, the renowned Tony George.

Ellen Thomson, Head of Outreach for the University of St Andrews Music Centre, said: “We are delighted by this award which recognises the importance of music in the local community. When the pandemic hit, we had to cancel several events for the local brass community and young people which was devastating. Like many others, we had to adapt to a life online and quickly decided to try something a bit different to create an opportunity for brass players of all ages and abilities from anywhere to come together, play music, and learn about brass instruments in an inspiring digital environment. The whole project turned out better than we could have expected and the feedback from all participants has been so positive.”

StAMP Discovering Brass zoom lessons

The StAMP Brass Camp was attended online by 231 participants from all over the world including Brazil, Russia, Germany, China, Ireland and four different states of the USA. Over one hundred participants came from 21 local authority areas of Scotland with 22% of participants coming from Fife.

In November 2020 the Discovering Brass participants joined in a virtual concert Stars and Satellites which included the creation of two new pieces by composer Andrews Knight-Hill with the children, inspired by Markus Stockhausen’s work and that of astronomer Dr Anne-Marie Weijmans from the School of Physics and Astronomy at the University.

Since the initial digital camp took place, StAMP has delivered further online music learning opportunities through Discovering Brass, with more than 160 children taking part in online groups. Half of these children have joined a local brass band youth section and are now learning on brass instruments. As Covid restrictions ease groups have had in-person sessions with some children meeting each other for the first time after a year of learning together online.

Professor Jeffrey Sharkey, Principal of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, said: “The Scottish Awards for New Music are a celebration of the innovative artists whose work is such a vital part of our cultural identity. Congratulations to this year’s nominees whose creativity, particularly throughout such a challenging period, has not only enriched lives but our nation’s musical landscape.”

StAMP continues to work closely with The Tullis Russell Wizards, Cupar Beginners Brass, Clackmannan District Brass Band and Kingdom Brass in the delivery of online and in-person opportunities for children. The project will start a new St Andrews brass group in the University’s Laidlaw Music Centre and an online virtual band will begin in September 2021 to keep up with the demand and appetite for music making. Forty of the young musicians who took part have now joined five local brass bands to continue their learning which is still ongoing today.


Visit the StAMP website to find out more.

Watch the Scottish Awards for New Music 2021.

Additional videos:

Issued by the University of St Andrews Communications Office.

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