Spotlight on Fun Fiddle at Towerbank School

Written by Gica Loening, founder and practitioner of Makin a BrewFun Fiddle and YMI Officer for East Lothian Council.

Positive health and wellbeing are currently top of the agenda in Scottish education due to the impact of COVID-19, and while music practitioners and researchers have strived for years to show just how important the role of music is for our mental and physical wellbeing, the current pandemic presents an opportunity like no other to reiterate this truth.

Along with research, individual narratives which reveal the vital part that music plays are more important than ever to tell.

In mid-August a group of amateur fiddlers from Portobello’s Fun Fiddle decided to serenade the children and parents as they walked to Towerbank school on their first day back.

I have worked in community music making for 25 years, but the experience was a reminder of the impact the simple act of playing live music in a public setting can have - how it lightened moods, soothed anxieties, and heightened emotions.

A group of fiddle players stand outside on a sunny morning under a sign that says welcome

Image credit: Dallas Henderson

Here’s a few of the numerous comments we received after playing:

  • It was beautiful! What a lovely thing for the kids to go back to 😍
  • It was amazing. My nursery and p2 child were skipping and singing ‘Mhairi’s wedding’ all the way to school after hearing it! Thank you to all. 🌈💞🤩👏
  • How wonderful! Such a special memory created ❤️❤️
  • Aww how lovely! When everyone is slating each other and moaning about everything, never forget how wonderful our community is and how lucky we are to live here. Thanks Ladies
  • Such a wonderful welcome. Thank you, I felt quite emotional ❤️

Alasdair Friend, Head Teacher at Towerbank, had this to say:

"The prospect of returning to the school building for the first time since lockdown in March was daunting for many children, families and staff. We can’t have enough music in our lives and to have live music played to accompany the momentous return to Towerbank building was a huge success. The music encouraged and uplifted everyone.

Out of over 600 returning and new children only one was reluctant to go into school!"

It feels important to document the impact of this simple event and others like it. The current health and wellbeing agenda is framed by the ongoing struggle of arts practitioners to have their work fully recognised and valued for the benefit it brings.

The feedback above reveals the healing power of just hearing live music for children and parents alike. Taking part in music making is even better, and a listed human right for children the world over.

So far, the Scottish Government COVID guidance has indicated that only essential external staff are allowed into schools. I'm guessing that musicians may not be included in that definition. My feeling is that now more than ever, we need to promote music practitioners as healers and social workers. Our job feels pretty essential to me in the coming months!

Gica Loening

This article was published on 02 Sep 2020