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Edinburgh Archives - Morningside School of Music

An interview with Conal Mooney

Conal,Mooney,Guitar,Edinburgh,Ill Fitting Thoughts,Band,

The Conal Mooney Interview

 

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’.

 

 

Conal,Mooney,Edinburgh,Guitar,Ill fiting 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,Guitar,Edinburgh,Ill Fitting Thoughts,Band,

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!

An interview with singer/songwriter Nikki Lamont

Nikki Lamont,Nikki,Lamont,Nicola,Songwriter,Singer,Edinburgh,Australia,

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.

 

Nikki Lamont,live,singing,guitar,Who inspires you musically? Are there certain musicians that make you want to go into the studio?

Artists that inspire me and make me want to progress as a musician are artists like; Gabrielle Aplin, Bon Iver, Maggie Rogers, Troye Sivan, Shallou and many many others.

 

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.

Nikki Lamont,Nicola,Lamont,Edinburgh,Singer,Songwriter,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.

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Napier University’s Popular Music

napier - popular music

My name is Conal Mooney, and I am a first-year guitar student at Edinburgh Napier University Popular Music Course. This small blog is about why I chose the BA (Hons) Popular Music course. I will also mention what it has to offer you as a potential student and what it is like to study music in Edinburgh.

Decisions, decisions, decisions.

After finishing my sixth year of high school, I knew I wanted to study music at uni. However, I had no real idea where I wanted to study. I was also unsure of what course path to take; whether to apply for a classical or a popular music degree or to study a music technology degree with no performance aspects at all. I decided I was most interested in a course which had the option of exploring many issues of music. I attended open days at Glasgow, Ayr and Edinburgh and spoke to friends and read student reviews. After my research, I found the BA Pop course at Edinburgh Napier University piqued my interest. Reviews of the course, as well as the vast array of career paths available, stuck out to me.

I visited Napier’s Merchiston campus and was very impressed with the facilities and what the course had to offer. The four-year course has a wealth of areas of study. These include composition, performance and technologies, as well as music therapy and community music projects. The lecturers and tutors are of the highest standard, with sought-after session musicians and accomplished academics making up the music team. Another aspect of the course that particularly attracted me is the option of a year abroad.

Napier University’s Popular Music Course Syllabus

First and second-year offer a focus on music genres, cultures and industries. These are centred around group discussions in lectures as well as analysis of studies and academic works on music. These years also focus heavily on practical music studies and technologies; the former encouraging a strong focus on theory and one-to-one instrument lessons. Instrument/vocal lessons ensure that you’re always seeking to improve your playing skills and help you to apply your learning in compositional tasks.

Music Technologies modules are where Napier’s superb technical facilities are put to use. Lectures in first and second year offer extensive use of digital audio workstations such as ‘ProTools’, ‘Logic Pro X’ and the advanced music notation software ‘Sibelius’. Rehearsal rooms, as well as studios in the uni, are open to students 24/7 for practice and recording use. These rooms are fully equipped with amps, drum kits, keyboards and professional mixing desks and speakers.

Third and Fourth-year modules allow for you to further develop skills in areas that you have strengths in. Modules such as music therapy, music psychology and instrumental/vocal teaching offer an insight into applying music practices in the real world. More advanced technology modules are available, using Ableton for advanced mixing and producing. Additionally, performance modules can be taken right up to fourth-year, as well as the more academic ‘Music in a Globalized World’ and ‘Entrepreneurship in the Music Industries’ laying a foundation for music research projects.

A Lecturer’s View.

In my brief time at Napier, it is clear that both the staff and students are happy and actively engaged with course. There is never a shortage of opportunities for musical exploration and work. Fourth-year student, Corin Anderson (composing, producing and DJing under the name CoriAnder) says,

“I recently accepted the post of Music Technology Lecturer on the Junior Napier Music course. My job is to teach high school students how to use industry-standard software to record, edit and mix music. ” adding, “Edinburgh Napier’s Popular Music course has opened up so many opportunities for me. The past few years have undoubtedly been the best of my life so far”.

My own experience of the course has been fantastic as well. In seven months, the amount that I have learnt with regards to composing, recording and producing music is immeasurable. My guitar playing has come on massively, and my sight reading is improving as the weeks go on. The folk in my year are spot on. We all get along well, and I have made some really good friends. I am looking forward to the rest of this trimester and the years ahead. I’m ready to work hard and keep making music. Hopefully, this blog reflects my honest feeling about the course and shows you that if you want to study music, Edinburgh Napier University is the place to be.

Corin Anderson is a music producer, composer, multi-instrumentalist and DJ with a wealth of musical experience. Having written and released five albums and one EP as well as collaborating with other artists on many works, he is nothing short of accomplished. You can follow Corin’s music projects and releases on his website https://musiccoriander.weebly.com.

 

An interview with Gus Harrower

Gus Harrower Wonder

“Nobody would have to know, your secrets on the radio…”

Gus Harrower,Gus,Harrower,Live,Wembley,London,

Gus’ music career began at primary school when he started piano lessons at a relatively young age. However, he did admit that he “hated learning to begin with. I couldn’t get into it when I started, but I stuck at it”.

Gus continued his interest in music by becoming a student at Morningside School of Music. This is where he began to practice and excel at the piano. He only had praise for the teachers at the music school, saying that “the encouragement from Paul and my piano teacher at the time inspired me with the music I would go onto write”.

He continued, “listening to the music which the tutors advised me to, totally expanded my taste in music and helped with my songwriting”.

Gus’ Musical Influences

Musical influences were a thing Gus was keen to share, citing numerous artists that have shaped his career. He began with his favourite act, American indie folk band Bon Iver.

“Currently, I enjoy listening to Bon Iver. The band are very different from the music I write, however, the lyrics are brilliant and great to listen to”.

He carried on, “I enjoy listening to Billy Joel. He is an excellent pianist and was brilliant in concert when I saw him at Old Trafford”.

However, Gus was keen to point out that it’s not only famous musicians impact his music. He added, “I learn lots from my friends and other musicians around Edinburgh; they don’t have to be a big name to influence my music taste”.

 

What was very apparent in talking to Gus is that his music taste is very diverse. Other than Billy Joel and Bon Iver, Gus listens to different artists on Spotify and spoke about the last playlist he listened to. “On my artist page on Spotify, you can find a playlist called Ten Tunes. It’s quite varied; there is some Blossoms and Theo Katzman too”.

Music, Work and Studies

While on the topic of Spotify, Gus spoke about his music which features on the platform. He expressed that “Spotify is great for artists, as millions of people can hear our music”.

Gus Harrower

Gus already has some music on the music platform with his album “Where We Were” which is performing well. However, he isn’t content with tha

t. He continued, “the aim, for me, is to get my music on an editorial playlist. These playlists can be another way to get people to listen to my music, so I am hopeful that it could happen soon”.

Gus loves gigging and is part of a very successful wedding band. He said, “I am enjoying playing in the wedding band at the moment. I joined the band last year as a money maker on the side of uni, and we are now booked up every Saturday until November”.

In the band, Gus doesn’t play his music; however, he did mention that he likes playing covers of other musician’s songs. “I do enjoy playing covers, though we have had some strange requests for first songs. The other week we had a wedding and were asked to play the Foo Fighters, which was a change”. He continued, “we were also asked to play Peter Gabriel’s Book of Love which is a more common request.”

Our discussion then moved from music to studies. Gus is currently in his second year of Popular Music at Napier University. “I’m finding the course very enjoyable. The lecturers are great, and I feel I am learning lots of new techniques. That’s also how I fell into the wedding band; through my course”.

 

The Future

Gus is sure of his immediate future and has got the next couple of years planned out. “Firstly I want to finish my degree and try to fit in as many gigs as possible while I’m still at uni. I am also keen to work on my music over the next few years, as well as play in the wedding band”.

Gus Harrower,Wonder,Gus,Harrower,Edinburgh,Music,Musician,

Further down the line, Gus is undecided about what to do after university. However, he knows he wants to remain in the music industry. “I want to stay involved in music; I know that for sure. I quite fancy moving away from Edinburgh, possibly down to London for a while”.

He admitted that it is challenging to make it as a musician but, he does have a few ideas. “It’s hard to make it in music; however I am hoping to become a songwriter or session player maybe”.

Regardless of the future, Gus Harrower is aiming to get more of his music onto Spotify. In fact, his fantastic new single “Wonder” is available to download now. You can also purchase Wonder on Apple Music.

You can follow Gus on Facebook here: Gus Harrower Facebook

The Dan Beattie Award

Dan Beattie,Edinburgh,award,music,guitar

Dan Beattie,Edinburgh,award,music,guitarDan Beattie 1986 – 2011

 

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.

 

Dan Beattie Award,Charity,Morningside School of Music,Edinburgh,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:

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 Dr Jacob Spence.

2018 - TO BE ANNOUNCED

The 2018 recipient of the Dan Beattie Award will be announced at the year's Morningside School of Music Grand Annual Ball, which will be held on Saturday the 28th of November at The Braid Hills Hotel in Morningside, Edinburgh.