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Youth Music Initiative advisors

Alistair Salmond
Brian Cope
Cathie Rae
Fiona Dalgetty
George Mowat-Brown
Iain Fraser
Ian Mills
Gayle Martin
Jennifer Martin
Jo Miller
Karen MacIver
Mary McGookin
Robert Hicks
Walter Blair

Alistair Salmond

Alistair has spent his entire career in music education, as a teacher and then as adviser to Scottish Borders Council.  He was a member of the Standard Grade Music Working Party which helped to revolutionise the way music was taught in schools.
He co-wrote a programme of study for the teaching of music in primary schools and has been involved in national music in-service .

He formed the Christian Celtic Band, Chrysalis, for which he composed and performed throughout the UK for nearly ten years.

Since retiring from his advisory post, he has freelanced as a music consultant for BBC primary music broadcasts, was Scottish consultant to youngchoirs.net and has delivered in-service on primary music throughout Scotland.

Now, having returned to live in Fife, he is excited by the vast amount of music activity around Scotland and the breadth of musical styles resulting in great new opportunities young people are eagerly grabbing to develop skills in ways that appeal to them.

Brian Cope

Brian studied music at the University of Edinburgh.  He is a composer, music educator and consultant with a particular interest in issues of inclusion in music education.  He has worked extensively as a music consultant for the international humanitarian organisation, War Child Holland on projects in the Balkans, Caucasus and Sierra Leone delivering training on the use of music in the psychosocial rehabilitation of children affected by war.

He worked for six years as the Artistic Director for Drake Music Scotland, an organisation that uses innovative music technology and teaching methods to enable people with disabilities to play, learn and compose music independently.   He has made a major contribution to the development of inclusive music education throughout Scotland.

His composition work spans a wide range of activities including composing for film, multi-media installation and theatre. He enjoys facilitating young people in music making and the art of musical composition. He has worked for the Scottish Chamber Orchestra’s Education Department and has delivered composition projects to children in schools in the UK and abroad.  In September 2006, he founded Portobello Music School, a new music initiative providing comprehensive music education to children from across Edinburgh and the Lothians.

Cathie Rae

Cathie’s background is in music performance, sales and marketing. Beginning her career with American computer giants Digital Computers, Cathie worked in advertising for the Scotsman Publications. She later went on to start her own arts administration business, Alba Arts / Jazz Base.

For the past 12 years Cathie provided a professional arts administration service to many clients including project management for Glasgow International Jazz Festival. Cathie is now Director of Thick-Skinned Productions Ltd, a not-for-profit arts organisation providing music education services in schools, recording opportunities, tour production and artist management. Thick-Skinned Productions manage jazz pianist Brian Kellock. 

A professional and passionate jazz singer, Cathie has been involved with the Scottish and UK jazz scene for many years. She is Trustee on the board of Jazz Services and is Jazz Development Officer for the Scottish Jazz Federation.

Fiona Dalgetty

Fiona Dalgetty is Ceannard (Director) of Gaelic arts organisation, Fèis Rois.  Prior to her appointment, Fiona spent several years living and working in Edinburgh where she spent two years at the City of Edinburgh Council as a Cultural Co-ordinator. Her freelance contracts have included heading up the development of the Edinburgh Youth Gaitherin and working as principal fiddle tutor for Lochgoilhead Fiddle Workshop.

Fiona continues to be in popular demand as a fiddle tutor and performer. She is a member of the band, Òr. Fiona has performed as far afield as the USA, China and Eastern Europe and recorded for radio and television.

Gayle Martin

Having gained a BA in Site Specific Design and a Postgrad in Creativity in Education, Gayle’s passion has always been in the arts, in particular music.  Gayle is a Cultural Co-ordinator for Falkirk Council Education Services where she has worked for seven years, developing and managing initiatives and programmes to increase cultural engagement with pupils and teachers.  Over the past six years Gayle has managed YMI for the Falkirk area, developing opportunities for children and young people as well as musicians.  This has involved the creation of the Falkirk Traditional Music Project developing links with Falkirk Mod, Fèis Fhoirt and the Falkirk Gaelic Forum.  Other YMI projects include The Rock Project, offering mentoring and performance support to S1-6 pupils and the Outreach programme creating partnerships with class teachers and musicians to increase music education in primary and nursery establishments.  

As well as YMI Gayle has developed an array of projects that support young people from 3 – 18 within the Falkirk area.  This includes Creative Futures that provides careers advice and opportunities for S4-6 pupils interested in courses and careers in the creative industries and The Scene music forum which is a partnership between Community Education, Arts Development and Education Services as well as the local music scene.

George Mowat-Brown

George Mowat-Brown received his musical education at Dartington College of Arts, the Royal College of Music, and doctoral studies at the University of York — where he was also the Hinrichsen Research Fellow and taught composition and fostered performances of student compositions.

After working in academic institutions, Mowat-Brown now spends his time in the more congenial freelance world — dividing his time between Orkney and London as a writer, lecturer, broadcaster and guest speaker.  He tutors post-graduate students for the Open University in Scotland and was until recently the chief music examiner for the International Baccalaureate. He has been involved with a number of schools music projects and commissioned new pieces whilst an executive committee member of the London-based New MacNaghten Concerts. He is an elected Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

Mowat-Brown initially worked closely with members of the avant-garde including Stockhausen, Birtwistle, Feldman, and Boulez. As a composer, his commissions have included:  Ballet Rambert, Cheltenham Festival, Leeds University, Alan Hacker, Jane Manning, St. David’s Festival, Surrey University, Morton Feldman, Mensa, and works for the Anglo-Hellenic ensemble Pandora.  His compositions have been broadcast by BBC Radio 3, and he has also broadcast as a conductor for the BBC and WDR Köln.

Wearing other hats, Mowat-Brown takes an active part in work for the M.S. Society Scotland in Edinburgh and writes on the demise of the British Motor Industry.

Iain Fraser

Iain is currently Manager of the Instrumental Music Service of Scottish Borders Council. He has been involved in Scottish, traditional and roots - based music for most of his life and this has taken him all over the world as a teacher and performer. His early career was based in London & Glasgow as a corporate video, presentations and conference producer for large blue chip companies.  In Glasgow the opportunity to develop the fledgling Glasgow Fiddle workshop was presented to him and this group subsequently outgrew his living room, moved to Kinning Park community centre, added classes and diversified.  GFW has continued to grow after Iain left the organisation and is now based at Stow College.

He also taught fiddle at the RSAMD for 10 years from the inception of the Scottish Music degree to 2005. He managed the record label Culburnie Records outside of the USA for 13 years from 1991 and he taught with Feis Rois Ltd on a monthly basis over a period of 17 years.  In 2004 he was appointed traditional & World music development officer at Scottish Borders Council and after a year in that post he moved to his current position where he manages a team of 19 Instrumental Music teachers, five regional youth orchestras and the authority’s Youth Music initiative programme.  Currently, playing the fiddle has taken a back seat to the demands of his day job and his new found passion for getting on his bike but he hopes to combine the two at some point with a coast to coast tour (not saying which country!) with the fiddle strapped to his bike.

Ian Mills

Following courses at Glasgow University and Jordanhill College, Ian’s professional life began as a Chemistry teacher in secondary schools in Lanarkshire - leading eventually to a Depute Headteacher post. Thereafter he moved to Tayside Region as an Assistant Director of Education where his responsibilities included development of the arts/education interface and chairing a group which formulated an Arts Policy for Tayside Region. During this time he obtained a Masters degree in Public Policy from Strathclyde University.

In 1995 he was appointed Director of Education in the new East Dunbartonshire Council – a post which two years later also absorbed responsibility for Leisure and Culture. He retained an interest in arts /education matters at national level as an Adviser to CoSLA and SAC.

Following a council management restructuring in 2001, Ian took the opportunity to leave local government employment and make a career change when he was appointed General Manager of the National Youth Choir of Scotland. This made use of his previous local authority experience in the arts/education field together with his interest in choral singing (Ian is a member of the RSNO Chorus). In 2007 he moved to the RSAMD as Executive Assistant to the Principal.

Ian is Chairman of the Scottish Amateur Music Association and Administrator of the Scottish International Piano Competition. He is also a Board member of the National Youth Choir of Scotland, Drake Music Scotland and Childrens Classic Concerts and serves on the Making Music Scotland Committee.

Jennifer Martin

Jennifer Martin is a composer who has spent nearly 20 years working in music education. Following a music degree at Edinburgh University, she continued her research there, gaining an MPhil in Composition while spending much of her time leading creative projects for community groups as part of the University’s Music in the Community programme.

She was then appointed Composer in Residence at Stewart’s Melville College and The Mary Erskine School, Edinburgh, and teacher of Composition at the City of Edinburgh Music School, while also lecturing in the Animation Department of Edinburgh College of Art, in the Drama Department of Queen Margaret College and within the Music Faculty at the University of Edinburgh, where she taught both Composition and Music in the Community. She continued to lead creative initiatives for many of Scotland’s leading arts organisations, including the SCO, the Queen’s Hall and the RSNO, and ran several artist residencies for Angus District Council.

In 2003, she was appointed Learning Manager for the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, where she devised and managed a wide range of educational initiatives, both in Scotland and in relation to international touring.

As a composer, recent works include Magnificat and Nunc Dimitis (St Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral, Glasgow), Look in the Mirror (Stewart’s Melville College and the Mary Erskine School), Seeing Sounds (New Edinburgh Orchestra), Hearing Pictures (New Edinburgh Orchestra, BBC SSO/Radio 3), Airborne for Mark O’Keeffe (principal trumpet BBC SSO) and Moving Towards the Edge (The Edinburgh Quartet).

Jennifer has now returned to her freelance career, as a composer, music education consultant and project manager.

Jo Miller

Jo Miller is a singer and fiddler who has worked in music education for over 25 years; privately, in schools, with Local Authorities, and in the Higher Education sector. She taught at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama for 15 years, where she founded the innovative BA (Scottish Music) degree. As joint Course Leader from 1996-2005 she taught a wide range of classes and led the development of community and education studies within the Scottish Music Department. She has had commissions to write materials to support the teaching of traditional music in the Scottish school curriculum, including a web-based package for Learning and Teaching Scotland.


As a Community Arts lecturer in Glasgow in the 1990s, Jo launched the successful Glasgow Fiddle Workshop. She currently teaches traditional music classes for the Tolbooth in Stirling, and runs the Riverside Music Project which supports family and community learning of traditional music. In 2009 this project is piloting a programme of music leader training amongst its members and those of other local community music groups.


Jo has performed and recorded as soloist and band member, and is also a freelance scholar whose research interests include ethnomusicology and Scottish music pedagogy, especially the impact of the formalisation of traditional music provision in Scotland. She has a long-standing interest in partnerships between formal and informal music education, and is looking forward to encountering more examples of these in her role as an advisor.  

Karen MacIver

Karen originally trained as a classical pianist and specialised in music for dance, working as a repetiteur for Birmingham Royal Ballet and Scottish Ballet.

Having gained some confidence in improvisation and composition she took herself off to London Ealing Film Studios to study Composition for Film and TV with Howard Goodall as honorary professor. She returned to her native Glasgow some years later with her Masters.


Through her London studies and work, Karen has transformed her career from performer into a teacher and educator especially of ‘classical’ improvisation. She teaches the RSAMD PGDip dance accompaniment course at Scottish Ballet Tramway studios and has held the post as Head of Education at the Royal Scottish National Orchestra.


Through her work with the orchestra, Karen has become hugely committed to encouraging young musicians and non-musicians (who are in actual fact musicians who may just not have learned an instrument yet!) to take part in all kinds of music activity – specifically in crossover work with other artforms such as dance, film and poetry.


Karen composes extensively for theatre, large-scale education projects, arranges for jazz trio The Swingcats and specialises in playing for silent movies.



Mary McGookin

A graduate of the RSAMD and Moray House (Staff Prize), Mary McGookin began her teaching at Broughton High School, becoming Principal Teacher, Music.  During her time there, the specialist music course, now City of Edinburgh Music School, was established.


Mary was appointed to lead the development of Lothian Region’s first arts policy and new arts unit in 1992.  Working with local and national artists, organisations and festivals, she developed the interface between arts/culture and education. She brought educators and artists together for the benefit of learners of all ages  and enjoyed encouraging emerging teaching artists.


As Arts and Learning Manager for City of Edinburgh Council, Mary’s responsibilities covered Instrumental Music, Cultural Coordinators/Creative Links, dance and drama officers,YMI, grants, Pilton Video and the arts within informal learning.  The authority gained national recognition for its provision, including awards from the National Music Council, UK.


Mary’s experience is extensive. She has produced acclaimed high profile events involving young performers and has been a member of many advisory panels. For SAC, these include Cultural Coordinators’ Reference Group and chairing the review of youth theatre in Scotland (2006).  She is a past director of Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival and former Chair of PromoteYT.  She now concentrates on personal projects and freelance consultancy.

Robert Hicks

Robert started promoting whilst running a bar in Ullapool 12 years ago. Realising no one else was promoting contemporary shows on a regular basis across the Highlands he started to try and change this.

Ten years on, and as well as regularly promoting shows across the Highlands and Islands, Aberdeen and Dundee with acts that have ranged from Paolo Nutini, Mumford and Sons to Biffy Clyro and Franz Ferdinand he has been at the centre of Scottish Festival scene. From starting the Loopallu, to being a founding partner in Rock Ness and promoter of Belladrum and book of goNorth all successfully now in their 6th, 5th, 7th  and 10th years respectively.

Late 2008 also saw Robert and his business partner take over the 1000 capacity Ironworks venue in Inverness.

Away from music, Robert also has an active role in The Arch Inn in Ullapool which he co-owns.

Walter Blair

Throughout his career Walter Blair has been involved in many aspects of music, particularly as a performer and as a musical educator.  Among the many appointments he has held are Director of the Specialist Music school Douglas Academy Milngavie, later moving to RSAMD as Director of Junior Academy, and eventually becoming Associate Director of Music RSAMD.  His association with the RSAMD continues as a part time accompanist, and as Chief Moderator for the RSAMD’s new grade exams in traditional music.  He is currently a  consultant to the City of Aberdeen Music school.

An experienced Adjudicator and Examiner, Walter was a trainer and moderator for the Associated Board for many years and now leads professional development courses for teachers for the Associated Board both in Britain and abroad.

Walter also has an enviable reputation as an organist and choral trainer, and still holds the post of Organist at the West Kirk of Helensburgh.  His extensive experience as a pianist and accompanist is well known and he has performed with many instrumentalists and singers both on the concert platform and in the recording studios.  His remarkable versatility means that he is equally at home in concert, recital, cabaret or recording studios.

Performers at the Orkney Folk Festival; Photo: K4 Graphics
Shadow of a cellist; Photo: Renzo Mazzolini; Courtesy Theatre Cryptic
Wind players of Camerata Scotland; Photo: Ian Watson
Student from Edinburgh Schools Jazz Orchestra; Photo: Louis de Carlo
NYJOS performing at the Edinburgh Jazz Festival; Photo: NYOS
Cellist from the National Children’s Orchestra; Photo: Ian Watson
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