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Programme of sessions

A brief history of Sangschule

Links to other sites

The SangStories website - the stories behind many of your best-loved songs.

Scottish Community Song Groups Website

A brief history of


The West Lothian Traditional Song Group

Christine Kydd's warm up exercises - now available on video!

Christine Kydd leads Sangschule and friends at a 'Muckle Sing' event

Christine Kydd leads Sangschule and friends at a 'Muckle Sing' event

Aileen Carr

Aileen Carr

Sangschule members catching their breath

Sangschule by Linlithgow Cross after a performance at Linlithgow's Renaissance Fair.

Sangschule by Linlithgow Cross after a performance at Linlithgow's Renaissance Fair. There's always someone who forgets the dress code...

Second Singers' Gathering in Livingston in 2002

Sangschule and other groups come together at the second Singers' Gathering in Livingston in 2002

Sangschule in the dock!

Sangschule in the court room where we used to have to take our tea-breaks - we sang in the robing room next door where the Justices of the peace prepared for action!

Sangschule started in 1994 as a community education venture by the then-West Lothian District Council's Arts Unit, which was a strong supporter of traditional music in West Lothian; at that time many people viewed West Lothian as a a traditional music desert! West Lothian Council has continued to actively support arts in West Lothian. More locally, Linlithgow Folk Festival is the most regular promoter of big folk events in this area.

The original song-group was tutored for several years by Christine Kydd, and was one of the earliest such groups in Scotland. During these early years we laid down and then refined the principles that Sangschule has used ever since:

* We believe everyone can sing, and should have the chance to do so in an uncritical environment - so no auditions.

* We learn songs, rather than relying on sight-reading.

* We sing together, rather than individuals doing 'spots'.

* Although some group members chose to go out and perform, there is no pressure on any individual to do so, and we don't mind if anyone chooses not to!

* We believe singing is fun!

So where did we get our early members? From the same place we still get them - by people deciding to try something that is usually very different from their previous experience of singing in groups. Some have stayed, others have taken up other musical or non-musical activities (it did pain us to lose a couple of members to the golf evening class at Linlithgow Academy where we met for a while!)

If put on the spot, and asked what was the single greatest benefit for Sangschule members, most people would say their increased confidence in their own ability to sing.

So what have been some of the highlights? Over almost a quarter century, too many to remember, really, but Sangschule members recall fondly the 'Muckle Sing' events held in West Lothian, and one day workshops that we helped organise for many years to bring together singers from other groups in central Scotland that operate like we do. And there was the time that we were invited to Celtic Connections, where we did fairly much what we do every week, but under the eyes of about 150 of an audience in the Piping Centre, almost all of whom were singing lustily by the time we finished.

An ongoing pleasure for all members is the chance to work with some great singers and inspirational teachers. Over the years, Sangschule has been tutored by, among others, Christine Kydd, Aileen Carr, Gordeanna McCulloch, Anne and Scott Murray of the Sangsters, and Sylvia McGowan and Elaine Wallace of Stairheid Gossip. We have had occasional sessions tutored by such great singers as Sheena Wellington, Eileen Penman, Anne Neilson, Karine Polwart, Ewan McVicar and Sara Grey.

In recent years we have been privileged to work with some amazing younger singers, such as Amy Lord, Siobhan Miller, and Scott Gardiner.

Within the last few years, we have concentrated on helping volunteers from among our members learn the skills that are necessary to teach songs, and this has added a new dimension to our activities. In recent years we have found much satisfaction in taking our own product - the teaching and sharing of songs - to different venues. We have done three of these at festivals since summer 2006, and now have a regular slot at the Linlithgow Folk Festival.

While we are not really a performance group, we do like to entertain, and are happy to do this while assisting charities.

And how are we organised? We are a not-for-profit organisation that relies on the goodwill and hard work of a number of people: organising tutors, or actually tutoring ourselves; arranging one-off events; supporting other local groups in a variety of ways; and of course publicising this work and the benefits of singing in every way possible!

You may be wondering what happens to old Sangschule members. We have noticed over the years that the effect of the increased confidence that members feel is that some want to find greater challenges in the field of traditional and folk music. Quite a number of our members are now confident performers in their own right, and we during holiday periods we arrange occasional Sangschule sessions where members can practise their session singing skills in a comfortable environment before launching themselves into the wide world.

And talking of old Sangschule members... We have always had a wide age range among our members, although we can only have under-16s if accompanied by a parent. So remember, singing is not just for Christmas, it's for life!


Home page

Programme of sessions

Links page (top)

A brief history of Sangschule (top of page)

The Oral Tradition

Scottish Community Song Groups Website