An extraordinarily keen & gifted young musician, Dan Beattie attended Morningside School of Music throughout 2010 in preparation for his studies in Music at Brunel University, London. Dan was one of the most determined and enthusiastic musicians that Morningside School of Music had encountered, and his attitude towards learning was nothing short of inspirational.
Dan played guitar, piano and was also a great vocalist. He later went on to learn the mandolin and ukulele. He had a particular interest in popular music theory and live music performance. Music was his pride and passion.
Aged only 24, Dan and his younger sister Carly, 21, were tragically involved in a fatal air accident while in Florida.
He will be greatly missed by the staff at the music school who grew very fond of Dan and developed friendships with him.
Morningside School of Music will continue to remember Dan every year through the ‘Dan Beattie Award for the Dedication to Musical Excellence’ which is presented to the student who shows the same high level of determination & dedication that Dan showed throughout his musical training.
The award is presented annually at the Morningside School of Music Grand Annual Charity Ball, by Dan’s father, Mr Tom Beattie.
The award has been presented to:
2019 - Harry Valentine
The teachers at the music school have been completely amazed by Harry's determination to constantly improve his musicianship. Despite only having played the guitar for a few years and still only being in primary school, Harry has proven himself to be a very worthy recipient!
2018 - Katy Martin
We were absolutely blown away by the sheer determination of this year's winner, Katy Martin. A pianist, flautist, composer and vocalist, Katy has be working hard with us for many years whilst still at school.
2017 - Summer Xie
Our youngest recipient of the Dan Beattie award to date, Summer Xie, shows ability on the piano that is past young age. Her level of practice and eye for detail in her work impressed all the staff at Morningside School of Music, none more than her piano teacher.
2016 - Beth Peters
Beth's teachers were so impressed by her impressive vocal ability, they insisted that she be nominated as the 2016 winner of the Dan Beattie Award. Her range, vocal technique and stage presence left the audience cheering to hear more at the Morningside School of Music Grand Annual Ball which was held in aid of SAMH. Beth Continues to study voice with us and is performing live every opportunity she gets.
2015 - Izzy MacLullich
Despite her young age, Izzy is without a doubt one of the most proficient drummers that Morningside School of Music has ever had the pleasure of teaching. At the age of just 12, Izzy was playing through Grade 8 Rockschool Drumming easily, her drum teacher astounded by her incredible aptitude for music. Izzy has gone on to play alongside some of the most famous drummers in the world and even hold her own drum workshops across the UK.
2014 - Conal Mooney
Conal ‘Rockstar’ Mooney, as he is affectionately known at the music school, has proved himself to be a very worthy winner of the Dan Beattie Award. As a multi-instrumentalist who can play piano, bass and drums, Conal received a distinction at Grade 8 Rockschool in his guitar exam. We are very proud of Conal due to the determination he holds when it comes to musicianship. in 2017, Conal enrolled at Edinburgh Napier University on the BA Popular Music degree course where he continues to impress with his virtuoso guitar skills.
2013 - Nikki Lamont
A multi-instrumentalist, singing, playing the guitar, piano and bass, Nikki impressed everyone with her outstanding songwriting skills and her musical aptitude. Nikki has since gone on to study music and graduated with a BA Music degree from Kingston University in 2018.
2012 - Gus Harrower
The second winner of the Dan Beattie Memorial Award was the 14-year-old singer, pianist and guitarist, Angus Harrower. The award ceremony was held at the 2012 Morningside School of Music Annual Dinner which raised over £2,000 for the Sick Kids Friend’s Foundation. The award was presented by Dan’s father, Tom. Since winning the award, Gus has gone on to play, compose, produce and promote his way to Scottish music scene stardom. Gus has been on various TV shows, written about in many newspapers and in 2015, was included in Scotland on Sunday ‘one to watch for 2016’ list. In 2016, Gus enrolled at Edinburgh Napier University on the BA Popular Music degree course.
2011 - Ruiradh Logan
The first-ever recipient of the Dan Beattie Award for Dedication to Musical Excellence. Ruaridh worked extremely hard at Morningside School of Music, in particular, on drums and guitar, dedicating as much free time as possible to the progression of his musical studies. The staff at Morningside School of Music were extremely proud to see Ruaridh lifting the trophy. Since winning the award, he has gone on to perform at various gigs across the Capital and has continued to progress under the watchful eye of his teacher, David Jeans.
The 2019 Morningside School of Music Annual Charity Dinner
What should we expect this year?
The purpose behind ever annual dinner held by Morningside School of Music is to raise much-needed funds for charities and those in need, and this year is no different. The selected charity for 2019 is the Children’s Hospice Association Scotland (CHAS) and we are hoping that collectively, it is possible to raise as much money as possible. This year, there will be raffles, auctions, games, collections and much more. Performing live will be a selection of the best pupils, children and adults, from the music school, including singers, pianists, saxophonists and guitarists. The Dan Beattie Award will be given out by Dan’s father, Tom Beattie to a music student from the school who has shown determination in their approach to furthering their musical development.
We will have a selection of live music, DJ and our host who makes the night highly entertaining! This will be followed by the opportunity to get up and dance and show of your disco moves. As in previous years, the event will be held at the Braid Hills Hotel in Morningside, Edinburgh.
The event is ‘black tie’, although being musicians you free rein to be creative in your attire on the night. There will be a 3-course meal and two bars open all night. This is a night to remember! Did we mention, for the first time ever, the event will have a CHRISTMAS THEME! 🙂
You can buy your tickets now for only £45, having a great night out including a delicious three-course meal and live entertainment all night, whilst helping an excellent charity at the same time. Tickets usually sell out very fast, so get in touch fast by emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org
Shirley Manson is one of the most famous Edinburgh singers, songwriters, actresses and musicians. For much of her international career, Manson commuted between her home city of Edinburgh and the United States to record with Garbage. But let’s start from the beginning …
She was born in 1966 in Edinburgh and grew up in Portobello. Her mother, Muriel Manson, was a former big-band vocalist and she encouraged her daughter to play the piano at the age of seven. Shirley’s love of music led her to eventually study music at school. Unfortunately, at the beginning of her music education, she was bullied relentlessly at school and therefore Manson fell into a deep depression. Shirley dropped out of high school at age 16 and this was the end of her official education.
Fortunately, she found an outlet to express herself – music. Throughout the years, she was a member of many bands. Her international career started when the drummer of the band Garbage noticed her on MTV. She became the lead singer of the band in 1994.
Garbage’s self-titled debut album in 1995 went double platinum in the United States, United Kingdom and Australia. The biggest hits such as “Only Happy When It Rains“, “Stupid Girl” and “Vow” become timeless due to Manson’s unforgettable voice and rebellious lyrics.
Unsurprisingly, after a huge success, the band decided to release the second album. “Version 2.0” was a special project for Shirley. She was serving as not only the face and voice of Garbage but also its primary lyricist. Moreover, she modelled for Calvin Klein to promote the album.
Garbage broke up in 2003 due to infighting between members. Time of separation did not last long. After two years, the band reunited to release its fourth album “Bleed Like Me”. The album met with international success,mainly because of the hit “Why Do You Love Me”. It was reaching Top 5 in the United States. The reunion was brief and the band took a hiatus for several years. At the beginning of the 2000’s, Manson was not only recognised by her talent but also due to scandals.
One of them broke out when she co-produced the theme for the James Bond film “The World Is Not Enough”. She was accused of having a romance with Garbage sound engineer Billy Bush. These gossips contribute to Mason divorce in 2003. In every rumour, there is a grain of truth. Shirley and Billy were fiends for almost a decade and in 2010 they decided to get married.
At the same time, Shirley made her acting debut. She was playing cyborg Catherine Weaver on the second season of the show “Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles”. Due to lack of further roles proposition, she returned to Garbage, when the band returned to the studio to write and record music for its fifth album “Not Your Kind of People”.
Manson has used Garbage’s profile and her own to raise awareness and secure funds for a number of causes. She commissioned a Garbage branded lip gloss online, with all proceeds from the sales split between Grampian Children’s Cancer Research and cancer treatment institutions at Royal Aberdeen Children’s Hospital in Scotland and the Memorial Sloan Kettering Hospital in New York.
Shirley lives with her husband in Los Angeles. They have a terrier named Veela.
You can learn more about Shirley Manson and the band Garbage by visiting the site Garbage.com
Ask anyone what music they associate with Edinburgh and I can almost guarantee the answers you receive will revolve around Sunshine on Leith, the Proclaimers or most likely the bagpipes! I, however, associate Edinburgh with a European import- ABBA. This probably seems very unusual to most people, but if you bear with me, I promise there is a rational explanation.
When I was growing up, the Easter holidays from school meant one thing to me, and that was my annual mother-daughter trip to Edinburgh. The two of us made it a ritual that we stuck to religiously. I would spend hours being dragged reluctantly around shops on George Street, and in return, she would let me go to Camera Obscura every single year without complaint. Even when I was young, I remember thinking how much I loved Edinburgh. As a child, all the cobbled streets and the view of the castle from Princes Street were truly the stuff of magic. Despite all these highlights, the thing I remember most about these trips was the car drive from Stranraer to Edinburgh, as coming from Belfast originally meant we usually got the ferry across the water and then drove. The soundtrack to this journey was, without fail, ABBA Gold on repeat.
Born out of my love for Abba was an ambition to be able to recreate their music of my own volition. This sparked my musical passions, and when I finally reached the ripe old age of 11 and was allowed to start music lessons at school, I knew exactly what I wanted from my piano lessons. I was not aware that lessons would begin with the basics, such as chords and simple tunes. How disappointed I was when I discovered I wouldn’t be stunning my family with flamboyant renditions of any ABBA song on request. Needless to say, I think they were pretty pleased that family gatherings wouldn’t be featuring any ABBA karaoke!
My poor music tutor was faced with my pleads weekly in every lesson to progress from the scales, chords and arpeggios to more exciting songs. Unfortunately, my musical ability did not quite match my enthusiasm, but my music teacher did take pity on me and awarded my valiant efforts and unending persistence with an ‘ABBA For Beginners’ songbook one Christmas. This songbook actually did my piano-playing the world of good, as soon piano rehearsal was the top of my list. I played the songs in that book over and over again, until I had mastered them. I use ‘mastered’ in the loosest sense of the word of course- I probably wasn’t the musical genius that I like to think I was!
During this period of my life was when I made the unfortunate discovery that the famous lyrics to ‘Super Trouper’ were in fact ‘When you called me last night from Glasgow’, not ‘Tesco’, as I had been confidently singing for years on end. I do recall thinking it was slightly odd that the singers of ABBA were so familiar with this particular supermarket giant, but who was I to question their musical genius?
It may be unconventional, but I will always associate the city of Edinburgh with ABBA. From driving there as a young child, the passion for ABBA’s music in particular definitely stuck with me. While many are quick to dismiss the Euro-pop tones of such an iconic group, I will forever be grateful to Edinburgh and ABBA for teaching me to be thankful for the music.
The UK country music market continues to keep growing, with acts like The Wandering Hearts and Sam Hunt leading the way for many newcomers to the industry. We caught up with another name to watch out for in the UK country scene, Demi Marriner, who told us about her musical pathway from being a five-year-old violinist to playing UK tours of her own music.
What is your earliest memory of listening to music, do you remember who it was?
My mom always had music on in the car, so I remember growing up listening to bands like The Stereophonics and The Dixie Chicks. There was always a real mix of genres.
How did you go about learning to play the guitar? Did you get lessons?
I didn’t ever have guitar lessons, though I wish I had. My first instrument was violin which I began playing at five years old and having regular lessons over a ten year period. This made picking up other instruments a little easier, however, having guitar lessons is something I wish I’d done.
Do you come from a musical family?
No, not at all really. I come from a music-loving family, but none of my family play any instruments.
How many instruments do you play?
I can play the guitar, piano, ukulele, and violin. I am currently still trying to polish up my skills on mandolin and banjo.
What is your songwriting process? Do you think of lyrics first then chords?
It really is a mix when it comes to songwriting. Most of the time I find it easier to sit and write lyrics once I have a brief chord structure, however, I am constantly thinking of little melody lines or lyrics on the go, so the process sometimes works with that in mind too. I always have a notebook in my bag and the voice notes app on my phone is forever full with little ideas. Sometimes one of those sticks out and the lyrics get placed together before I have even picked up a guitar. It really varies and is a process that can be different for all writers to suit their style.
Do you remember the first song you ever wrote?
I do. It was a song called ‘Here Whatever Happens’ and it was a music GCSE project. Growing up, I was very much involved in several creative fields; music, musical theatre, dance etc. When I had to choose my GCSE’s, I had to narrow it down to just one of them to focus on for my exams so I picked music. This resulted in my first song and first compositional piece, which is something I’ve carried into my career.
What one song do you wish you had written and why?
I listened to a lot of different music growing up – a mix of genres and styles. A lot of indie music influences like Stereophonics, Fall Out Boy, Snow Patrol, Feeder, Maroon 5 and All American Rejects came from my mom. But I also listened to a lot of pop music and some of my first concerts were people like Avril Lavigne, Busted, Hillary Duff and Mcfly.
Are there particular artists that you are listening to currently that you’d like to recommend?
Tons. I am currently listening to Ruston Kelly, Kacey Musgraves, Molly Parden, Lori McKenna, David Ramirez, Faye Webster, and Mindy Smith. It’s a never-ending list!
What kind of equipment do you take to a gig with you?
My set up is pretty simple personally. It’s just myselfand an acoustic guitar, so I don’t ever need to take too much. I always take my own microphone to avoid any illnesses or a mix of germs. I also trust that I will get the right sound from my microphone which is really important as a vocalist. When I play full band shows, the set up consists of several multi-instrumentalists playing the drums, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, banjo, double bass, pedal steel, dobro, vocals and backing vocals.
What do you prefer, being in the studio or playing live?
Playing live, for sure! I love being in the studio, but I feel that is a place that you can over complicate music because it’s so easy to make constantly do takes and perfect everything. I really adore the feeling of playing live and everything feel raw and falling into place. It’s a real thrill.
Do you have any gigs coming up that people can check out?
I have a show supporting a wonderful artist called Sam Outlaw from the States at The Town Hall in Birmingham, and I also have a bunch of shows coming up in Scotland, with a confirmed show in Glasgow at The Glad Cafe on August 12th. Keep posted online.
You have had great success online, could you tell us more about your process of getting noticed?
The best way to get noticed is to be visible. That sounds silly, but consistency online is so important. Social media is the biggest tool you can use as an artist in this day and age, and it is so important to use that. Regularly update your social media with photos and small bits of information on whats happening. Use Facebook and Instagram live to connect with fans. Also, make sure that the photos or videos you are posting are of a good quality. Consistency has to go hand in hand with quality.
What is next for Demi Marriner, are you working on anything new?
I am constantly writing music with plans for an album next year as well as some tours and travelling in the pipelines. Watch this space.
This week we interviewed Conal Mooney, guitarist of the band Ill-Fitting Thoughts and former Morningside School of Music guitar pupil. We ask Conal about his journey through music from childhood and playing the guitar with up and coming venue-fillers ‘Ill-Fitting Thoughts’.
What is your very first memory of music, do you remember the first thing that jumped out at you?
I’ve got no distinct first memory. However, I can recall listening to the likes of The Beatles, The Who, Led Zeppelin and numerous blues artists from an early age and loving them all. My Dad would play anything and everything which is essential when you are young.
When did you realise that you wanted to be a musician?
It was probably halfway through secondary school. I had the notion of being a musician when I was younger, but at around 14/15 that’s when I knew I seriously wanted to pursue it.
Do you come from a musical family, do you have people close to you who also perform?
One of my great granddads could play music, and my Mum used to play the piano when she was young. My eldest brother was also very able on the cello, oboe and guitar but stopped at around 16 or so. I think this is part of the reason why I wanted to start playing music. It’s worth mentioning that despite the rest of my close family not being musicians, there are all avid listeners of all sorts of music.
What artists inspired you when you were younger and had a positive impact on your desire to be a musician?
Largely Led Zeppelin. Not just because of Page as a guitarist but because their music made me realise the importance of production values as well as the fact that an artist can touch on so many genres. The likes of the Beatles, The Stones and blues artists such as Muddy Waters were also a huge influence when I was young before I discovered other music.
Conal Mooney playing his Fender Telecaster USA live on stage.
Did you have music lessons growing up?
I did yes, starting when I was about 9 or 10. Initially at YMI group classes which taught you the basics. After a break of a year or two, I decided to start again in secondary school where a fantastic guy named Ryan Linfoot taught me. During first year I started guitar lessons with at Morningside School of Music. We touched on several areas of guitar playing as well as doing graded exams all the way up to grade 8. The most important thing I learnt there was how to improvise using scales even when I hadn’t been playing for an unusually long time. I think this is particularly important for musicians as it really helps you discover what you like and it also builds your musical ear.
Who are your favourite musicians now and why?
So many. All the classic bands and the blues guys still, but I’ve grown fond of Tame Impala, Kendrick, Anderson. Paak, Man of Moon, King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, Miles Davis, Debussy, Young Fathers, Bee Gees… too many to name. Why? You just have to listen.
What is your practice process?
Just do it. If you don’t, you won’t get better. Simple as that. Also practice sight reading sheet music, no matter how annoying it can seem. That as well as trying to sing along to anything you hear. My pitch used to be dreadful, and this helped a lot.
Are you enjoying your university degree course in music? What is your favourite and least favourite modules?
I am yes. Very much looking forward to the second year. It’s great overall. You touch on so many areas of music, and you have the option to later specialise in pretty much any area that you want. I particularly enjoyed music technologies using ProTools and Logic X, mainly because I had never done it before. As for the least favourite, I can’t say I had one!
Could you tell us a bit about what you are working on just now?
My band ‘Ill Fitting Thoughts’ recently finished recording an EP with Alan Moffat at Leith Recording Company. Alan did it all for free as part of a program he runs for young acts in Edinburgh. This was great as we got to experiment with VERY different sounds and take our time over it – we could never have afforded it had we been charged! Keep your eye out for word on when it’s getting released, not one to miss if I say so myself. Sadly, Leith Recording Company along with other businesses such as The Leith Depot is due to be demolished in a reckless endeavour by The Drum Property Group to build student accommodation. https://www.facebook.com/saveleithwalk/
Aside from this, I have still been doing gigs with the marvellous Gus Harrower following the release of his latest single ‘Wonder’. Still, more to come there as well as more gigs with the man himself!
Code of Practice – Positive Positive Change within the Music Industry
On the 12th of July 2018, Deborah Annetts, CEO of The Incorporated Society of Musicians, and Naomi Pohl, the Assistant General Secretary of the Musicians Union, signed a joint code of practice that will help eradicate bullying, harassment and discrimination in the music sector. The list of principals will aid all employers within the industry to meet their legal requirements and set out a shared vision of promoting and maintaining a positive working culture.
Morningside School of Music has pledged its full support towards the code of practice.
Deborah Annetts, Chief Executive of the Incorporated Society of Musicians, said:
‘The ISM’s Dignity at work report revealed a culture of discriminatory behaviour, including sexual harassment, bullying and discrimination relating to all protected characteristics across the entire music sector. The respondents, who were mainly self-employed, ‘depping’ musicians (and not covered under the Equality Act 2010), did not report their experiences due to fear of being victimised and ‘blacklisted’, indicates a toxic culture which needs to change.
Following in the footsteps of the British Film Institute and UK Theatre/SOLT, who have both launched vital principles for the film and theatre industries, the ISM and Musicians’ Union have joined forces to launch a set of principles for the music sector. We call on all organisations – whether they are a venue, orchestra, school, recording studio or otherwise, to sign up and support this Code and ensure its implementation within the workspace.’
Naomi Pohl, Assistant General Secretary of the Musicians’ Union, said:
‘When the #MeToo movement began in late 2017, the MU established a confidential email account for musicians and other individuals working in the music sector to report instances of sexism, sexual harassment and abuse. The many reports we have received have been deeply concerning and range from everyday sexism, which appears rife across the industry, to sexual assault. It is clear to us that the culture of the music and entertainment sectors, as well as drama and music education, need to change radically. To put it bluntly, many workplaces simply aren’t safe for female musicians in particular at the present time.
We know that many employers, venues and educational establishments are keen to work with us and we believe this new Code of Practice will be widely welcomed. While it isn’t the only available Code of Practice, it is unique in our sector because it has been drafted with freelance workers, performers and students in mind. Freelancers are particularly vulnerable to abuse as they may feel they have no rights and nowhere to turn for help. We want to ensure they feel supported at work and that we and their engagers have their safety and well-being as our top priority.’
A set of principals to tackle and prevent bullying, harassment and discrimination for all those working in the music sector
These principles aim to eradicate bullying, harassment, discrimination and other forms of inappropriate behaviour within the sector. They will also help employers to meet their legal requirements as well as setting out a shared vision for promoting and maintaining a positive working culture.
All employers, employees, officers, workers, agency workers, trainees, students, tutors, volunteers, trustees and freelancers should adhere to these principles. Everyone is responsible for promoting and maintaining an inclusive workplace which is positive and supportive.
We are committed to promoting and maintaining a diverse and equal working culture
We oppose bullying, harassment and discrimination and will not tolerate such behaviour within our own organisation and network.
We are committed to playing our part in improving the working culture of the music sector.
We are an equal opportunities employer and committed to improving diversity within our own workforce.
We value inclusivity, appreciate difference, and welcome learning from others and consider people equal without prejudice of favour. We build relationships based on mutual respect. We will work to give and receive feedback in a constructive way, which we know will improve creativity and productivity.
We will take a proactive approach to improve the working culture of our own organisation (e.g. ensuring equal opportunities in any recruitment and selection process, providing flexible working policies and family-friendly contracts).
We will encourage appropriate behaviour within our own organisation and in our network.
Where we work with individuals under the age of 18, we will ensure that appropriate safeguarding training and advice is provided to our staff and representatives.
We will implement and promote appropriate policies, procedures and complaints processes to protect everyone – including the freelances we engage and students we teach.
We will respect each other’s dignity, regardless of the seniority of our role in any setting.
When reports are made
We understand that it is difficult for individuals who have suffered bullying, harassment or discrimination to speak out. We will respect confidentiality where possible and aim to make the process of reporting clear, straightforward and accessible.
Reports of bullying, harassment or discrimination made to us will be taken seriously, handled sensitively, and within the complainant’s safety and wellbeing as our first priority. This will mean providing adequate protection for complainants and, where bullying or discrimination is found to have occurred, taking appropriate action against the perpetrators. We will do all in our power to ensure that individuals who have made complaints or participate in good faith in any investigation do not suffer any form of reprisal or victimisation as a result.
Where individuals belong to a trade union or professional association, we will encourage them to seek its advice and support.
We will maintain a list of support services for use by those who have suffered harassment bullying or discrimination.
Where issues are raised with us that may be of a criminal nature, we will refer the individual concerned to an appropriate support service.
We will ensure that these principals are embedded at the early stages of careers in the music sector and the performing arts, to ensure that a safer, more inclusive working culture becomes the norm.
Over the past number of years, the internet has taken over as the number one way to promote your music to the masses, and that is exactly what Carly Beth did! A young singer/songwriter from New York State, Carly started streaming her music live to audiences in China, raking in over 5 million views in the process. We have absolutely no doubt in our mind that Carly Beth will continue to take the music world by storm. In her interview with us, Carly speaks about her musical experiences growing up and how music lessons helped her get started on the right path as a musician.
What is your very first memory of music, do you remember the first thing that jumped out at you?
I remember when I was a little kid, songs kept getting stuck in my head to the point where I’d be singing it non-stop. It was actually really frustrating. One time, I suddenly started crying, and my mom ran to me and asked me what happened, and I replied, “I can’t get this song out of my head!”
When did you realise that you wanted to be a musician?
What’s interesting is that I’ve never realized it – I’ve just always known it! When I was three years old, I told my mom I wanted to become a singer, but I wasn’t allowed to get voice lessons until I learned the piano. So I started taking piano lessons and then I became so consumed with the piano I never ended up taking voice lessons. I started writing on the piano when I was 8, and it just took off from there.
Do you come from a musical family, do you have people close to you who also perform?
I do come from a musical family, but none of my relatives have chosen music as their career. My mom played the piano growing up and also writes songs, although a different style than mine.
What artists inspired you when you were younger and had a positive impact on your desire to be a musician?
When I was a baby, my Aunt would sing me Karen Carpenter songs – so since then, I’ve always had an ear for melodies. Growing up, I listened to a lot of oldies, such as Motown, Carpenters, etc. because my mom played them a lot. By the time I was in elementary school I had listened to a lot of Taylor Swift, and I really liked her songwriting. In middle and high school I started writing piano solos, which seemed to be self-inspired because I never really listened to solo piano music like that. However, when people heard my piano solos, they told me my style sounded similar to Jim Brickman, a famous American pianist. After I listened to his music, I really got into the rich harmonies and melodic structure, so he then became one of my influences. I slowly evolved to writing popular music with lyrics which seemed to be inspired by a combination of all of the above.
Did you have music lessons growing up? If so, tell us a bit about your experiences.
I started piano lessons when I was five years old. When I started, I wasn’t that good, and I rarely practiced because I preferred sounding out songs instead of reading sheet music. To this day I still prefer figuring out music without the help of sheet music, because it is easier for me. Regardless, as I progressed, I started taking music seriously, and I rigorously practiced and became classically trained, played complicated Mozart, Bach, Chopin, and Jazz piano solos and competed in local competitions. I worked hard to read music better and even worked on my own original songs with my piano teacher.
When I was 12 years old, I started teaching piano lessons to young children. In middle school, I took guitar lessons for summer, and the guitar teacher told me I picked up a year’s worth of lessons in just two months. It made me realise that once you master one instrument, it’s much easier to learn another. All throughout elementary school I took band lessons and played the clarinet. It was hard for me to be enthused with the clarinet, so the teacher asked me to switch to the oboe in middle school because she knew I could learn it quickly. I soon mastered the oboe and began competing at state competitions. I also took music theory in high school, which I highly recommend because it gives you a rich understanding of harmonies and music. Then I realised that I was really good at it, so the teacher asked me to student teach it to other students with her for two years.
Who are your favourite musicians now and why?
Taylor Swift is definitely one of my favourites. Her songwriting and lyrics tell such incredible stories, especially her older songs, and would recommend aspiring songwriters to listen to them. Another musician I admire is Charlie Puth (he wrote “See You Again”) because he is classically trained and has such an incredible understanding of chords and melodies. He is incorporating more complicated chords and less common progressions into his pop music which I think is fantastic.
What is your songwriting process? Do you come up with your lyrics first then chords?
It depends on what song it is! For most of the songs, I create the music first. For me, this usually happens on the piano. My fingers just play something, and then brain tells my fingers how to finish it. Alternatively, I’m playing a song and then play a wrong note, and say, “hey, I like that!” Then the music tells me what the song is about, and some lyrics will start forming with the melodies. Then the rest of the process includes filling in the blanks, figuring out the order of the parts, and refining. I am a perfectionist, so I usually take much time refining my song until it is perfect. However, I’ve had a few songs that I’ve written in under an hour. However, for the most part, the initial ideas come quickly, and I spend much time refining it.
You have started to produce some of your material, what software do you use?
Yes I have, I use Logic Pro X. I wouldn’t necessarily call myself a producer, because I wear so many hats (songwriter, instrumentalist, singer, etc.) and don’t have the time to become proficient really. However, what I’ve found, is that if you write a song, and then you hand it off to someone else to finish, you usually won’t like the result because it’s not what you imagined. I’ve found the only way to avoid this is to produce it myself. I had to teach myself how to produce, and it took a while, but it was well worth it. I always try to execute my idea as best as I possibly can.
You have over 1.5m Facebook streams. How did this come about? Are there any tips you could offer up and coming musicians looking to promote themselves online?
This is kind of a crazy story! I went to university in London, and a classmate heard me play the piano and sing and said I should start live-streaming myself to China. I was like, China? Why? Moreover, she said because Chinese audiences like Western musicians and if you live stream to China on an app, they give you gifts which can be turned into actual money. I didn’t really believe her at first, but I tried it anyway. I live-streamed every day playing the piano and singing for about 1-2 hours. This helped my performance skills immensely, and it was only by doing this every day, that I gained confidence. Within a few months, I had over 110K people in China watching at one time. I even made over £20K in gifts from people in China. Once I had that, I tried live-streaming on Facebook. One thing I would like to point out though is that you can’t grow unless you or your content is reaching new people. Live-streaming on Facebook is great because the stream will appear at the top of everyone’s feed. Additionally, it’s a great way to interact with your audience which is a great way to build relationships with your fans. After a few live streams, my performances were getting about 2K shares per stream. At the same time, I had a video of mine on facebook kind of go viral. So this directed a great deal of traffic to my stream.
I have a lot of tips for musicians looking to promote themselves. When I first started, I was terrified to put myself out there, until I came across this quote, “It’s not that nobody cares, it’s that nobody knows” and this became my motto while I was growing. Secondly, make great video content. How do you know if it’s great? Ask yourself if you saw that video coming across your feed, would you click on it and watch it, or scroll past it? Videos that are dark and unclear aren’t super eye-catching. So take your video outside, get great lighting. Show yourself playing your instrument and singing. Ask your parents or someone that will give you an honest opinion if it’s good or not. If it’s not, try again. Try something different. Another tip is not to make your videos look super professional. You don’t want them to look like an advertisement. I film all of my videos on an iPhone. Lastly, put out lots of content. Nothing looks worse than only having one video on your page. Have lots of good content that people will be impressed by!
What do you think of the UK so far? Is the live music scene different from New York?
I really enjoyed the UK, and it was a lot different than the music scene in New York. First of all, I was surprised at how many musicians never received any lessons or training in the UK. There’s nothing wrong with this, but I personally think it’s best to get as much training as possible. When I was in London, I found the music market incredibly hard to break into, especially live, that’s why I turned to live-streaming. Also, most venues didn’t even have a keyboard, so for me, it was very difficult to get gigs. When I came home to my hometown, Buffalo, New York, I was able to drive with my keyboard and get lots of gigs and performance opportunities. However, I believe that if I tried this in NYC, it might be more similar to London. I haven’t really experienced the music industry outside of London in the UK, so I’m not sure how to compare it. However, overall sometimes it’s easier to break into a less saturated market first.
Are you enjoying your course? What is your favourite and least favourite modules?
I did enjoy my course immensely, I actually just graduated this month. I enjoyed all of my modules because I took all music! This sounds nerdy, but my favourite class is music theory. I really love to analyse music and think about how I can be inspired and learn from it. My least favourite module, in general, is history. I am really bad at it!
Could you tell us a bit about what you are working on just now, what can we expect next from Carly Beth?
Right now, I’m trying to build my live presence in my hometown and expand from there into more states! I’m working on writing, recording, and performing more new songs as well.
If you come to Edinburgh, will you come and visit us? 🙂
Of course! Hopefully, I will be there soon!
Check out Carly Beth on the links below and subscribe to her channels to keep up to date with what Carly is working on.
Before her journey to the other side of the planet, we managed to catch up with the 2013 recipient of the ‘Dan Beattie Award for Dedication to Musical Excellence’, Nikki Lamont. Starting lessons at an early age at Morningside School of Music in singing, guitar and piano. Nikki went on to study music, graduating with a BMus (Hons) in Edinburgh. Nikki is now working on new material and relocating to Australia to concentrate on her music career.
What is your first memory of music?
My earliest musical memory is hearing my dad playing the guitar at home when I was very young. From then on I knew that music would be necessary for me, after hearing him play I wanted to learn and be a musician too.
So, you have your dad to thank for your talent?
When I was listening to music, and I felt like I wanted to sing/play along to the material. I felt tied to music, and I knew I had to learn to be able to play along with the music I loved. I also really wanted to write my material similar to the musicians I looked up to. I have fond memories of my first guitar lessons and just wanting to be able to play everything already and make music straight away.
I learnt to play the guitar when I was 12, although I was hesitant to begin with. I am so grateful I persevered with it as it is a real passion of mine now. I started getting singing lessons a few years after this began. I realised I wanted to go further with my technique and learn how to sing professionally with my guitar.
Who inspires you musically? Are there certain musicians that make you want to go into the studio?
If you could only take one instrument to a desert island with you, what would it be?
Out of all the instruments my real passion is vocals. I love being able to experiment with different sounds and putting emotion into what I play. I love progressing further with my voice and always being able to learn more is a fantastic trait that comes with an instrument like vocals (and everything else too!).
“There is no feeling like getting up on stage and playing your songs…”
Did you find that music lessons played an essential role in your musical development?
Getting music lessons impacted the way I grew as a musician positively. Meeting many fellow musicians and becoming close friends with these people was a huge part of what shaped me into the musician I am today. Learning from extremely talented individuals and growing my confidence and technique with them over the years has been an absolute pleasure. Lessons are such a great way to develop and meet other musicians. It’s not just the educational aspect, there is a huge social and cultural aspect to tuition too.
What do you prefer most, playing live or recording?
I love spending days in the studio. Getting a song down and just falling in love with the sound of what my band and I have created. My passion for performing overrules that. There is no feeling like getting up on stage and playing your songs. An audience of familiar and unfamiliar faces. Telling a story through my lyrics is something I love so much about live performance. People get to be in that moment with you and I think it’s a beautiful thing. Playing with other musicians is also an incredible feeling as you grow to have a bond with them through this. Live performance is something that I will always be passionate about doing.
Do you have any tips for us on who is hot right now?
My favourite artist at the moment is Maggie Rogers. I hadn’t heard of her until recently, but her music is incredible. Her lyrics take you on an emotional journey, and it’s music like this that inspires me to write and always be creative.
Do you ever listen to a song and wish that you had written it?
If I could have written a song, it would have to be Holocene by Bon Iver. It is a song that rings so much to me emotionally. It’s such a beautiful song, and it captivates me with every single listen no matter how many times I hear it. It is a dream of mine to be able to write lyrics even half as well as Justin Vernon.
Who, in your opinion, is the greatest musician in the world?
This is a complicated question as there are many musicians I respect technically. If I had to pick one, I would choose Gabrielle Aplin. Having seen her live many times now, the different takes she has on technology in and out of her recordings is excellent to see. She progresses more each time I see her live, and this is something I love seeing in musicians I look up to.
Tell us about the best live show you ever attended?
The best gig I have ever been at hands down was when I went to see Bon Iver at The Picture House in Edinburgh late last year. I have never been to see a band perform live where I have felt so emotional the entire time. The feeling they put into their songs playing live was exactly what comes through the music they record. It was such a fantastic experience to see it live and so raw.
Are you glad you did a degree in popular music at university?
Doing a degree in music was very challenging, and there were times where I was unsure of what direction to go in. I would recommend it to other musicians. My classmates opened my eyes to just how many people wanted to be musicians too. It’s been a fantastic experience growing with these people and getting into bands and just playing our hearts out together. Although it was hard work, it was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.
Do you think you will stay in Australia permanently?
The plan is to go to Australia long term and hopefully continue to gig and record music regularly. I hope to find bandmates over there whom I can keep playing with and writing material with as this is what I’ve been enjoying doing for years now.
Are you working on any new Nikki Lamont material currently?
I have just recently recorded a new song with Mark Morrow Audio. There will be an update for some news about that pretty soon!
Do you have any live gigs coming up in Scotland?
Unfortunately, due to me moving to Australia, I don’t have any gigs lined up. I plan to gig a lot in Australia, so I am sure it will all work out for the best!
What does the future hold for Nikki Lamont?
At this stage, I’m unsure of what the future holds for me as a musician. Right now I am so happy releasing music for people to listen to. I’m just finding my own feet as my degree has come to an end. I’m so glad to be able to tell my story through my songs and connect with people through my music. You have to be confident about your future. Mine I hope, is filled with lots of music releases, gigs and good times with fellow musicians! I can’t wait to make more music and just to continue doing what I’m so passionate about.
This week we interviewed one of our drum teachers, rock drumming veteran, Rick McMurray. The Irish rock chart-toppers Ash have amassed 1 Silver, 2 Gold and 2 Platinum selling records in Britain, and they have had a massive 18 songs in the top 40 UK Singles Chart. NME Magazine named their album ‘1977’ as one of the 500 greatest albums ever released. To date, Ash have sold over 8 million albums Worldwide.
Rick is currently over in the band’s studio in New York working on new material with his fellow band mates, singer Tim Wheeler and bassist Mark Hamilton. Between touring, Rick teaches drums at Morningside School of Music. Rick is based in Edinburgh where he lives with his wife & two young girls.
What is your very first memory of seeing or playing a musical instrument?
When I was three, I was asked to play Little Drummer Boy at the church Xmas service. And I screwed it up. I guess I just like a challenge.
Did you take drum lessons?
Not really. I wish I’d gone for drum lessons when I was younger as I know I’ve picked up so many bad habits, which I’m trying to iron out.
Did any of your schoolmates play any instruments?
Not really. Only a few in my year were into music, but luckily I found a couple of guys to start a band with who were the year below me at school.
How old were you when you got your very first kit and what kind was it?
I was 13, and it was a Thunder budget kit. I remember the review in Rhythm mag said the snare was brilliant.
Did you ever play a second instrument?
I started out on guitar at the age of 11 I think but I was forced to go for piano lessons at age six or seven and I hated it. I wish I’d been more into it.
What bands/drummers did you practice along to when you were a kid/teen?
Most Aerosmith and The Black Crows before I joined a band.
How did the process of starting band happen for you?
I played a drunk detective in the school production of a Russian play called The Suicide. Tim was one of the gipsy musicians, and I asked him for a go on his guitar. He was forming a cover band, so I asked if he had a drummer. It only lasted two rehearsals, but then he asked me to play with himself and Mark doing original stuff.
Did you meet at school and practice at lunch-time?
We practised every Saturday at Tim’s house as there was an old outbuilding we could use. School wasn’t made for rock’n’roll. It was mostly percussion and recorders.
Do you remember your first gig ever as ‘Ash’? Where was it?
It was in a back room of a bar in Belfast called The Penny Farthing with Tart Confusion and Lazergun Nun. We were told to turn down by the some of the regulars in the front bar, who showed us a handful of bullets to persuade us. It worked. A bit.
How did you go about getting gigs before you had a manager/record company?
We sent off loads of demo tapes to people, but it was our mate who managed us at the time who made the best contact with a guy called Paddy Davis at Bad Moon PR.
How did you get signed? Did you go to them or did they come to you?
Paddy’s wife was from Downpatrick, where we grew up, so he came to see us while he was on holiday and then passed our tape to the guy who worked next door to him, Tav Stevens, who was starting his label. He put out our first single, then became our manager and brought us to London to do a bunch of showcase gigs. We got signed by Korda Marshall to Infectious Records after that.
What do you prefer, live or studio?
Used to be I preferred to live, but these days I love the studio. It’s more creative, and you get to push yourself to grow as a musician. Having said that I’m looking forward to touring.
What type of kits and cymbals do you prefer to use when you are playing?
I love playing vintage gear at the moment. Gretsch and Ludwig mainly but I’ve got loads of different snare drums. Performing live at fly-in festivals you get to try out loads of different kits. I don’t mind what I play, to be honest; I feel it’s good to mix things up. I’ve also joined an Edinburgh band called Thirteen Seven, and I’m getting a kick out of playing old, beat-up house kits at the gigs we’ve done. It keeps you on your toes when you don’t know if the kit is going to make it to the end of the set. I’ll probably take out my Gretsch kit or my Ludwig Vistalite on the upcoming dates.
We got to go to Cuba to do the Sometimes video which was a real trip. I was driving around in this old, 50s American car with boxes taped to the pedals so I could reach them. The weirdest thing was not seeing any advertising other than the Bacardi bat on top of the building where they used to make it and a sign saying ¡Viva la Revolucion! Sounds good to me.
What is the coolest moment of you’ve had with Ash?
We’ve always had a special affinity with Reading festival so we are doing it for the 9th time this year. Last time they said if we make it to 10 appearances, they will erect a statue. It was quite late when they said it but we’ll hold them to it anyway.
If you could have one person in your band, who would it be?
If I could get a liver transplant I’d love to do a tour with Nathan Connolly from Snow Patrol.
What is the one piece of advice you would give drummers for their practice/technique?
Get yourself a good practice routine and do it every day because it’s a physically demanding instrument.
What is the one piece of advice you would offer musicians who want to go professional?
It’s probably 25% about being a great musician and 75% about being able to get on with people.