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The music of young folk lights up our lives


By Liza Mulholland

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Charlie Maclennan has been playing his pipes during lockdown. Picture: Callum Mackay/HNM
Charlie Maclennan has been playing his pipes during lockdown. Picture: Callum Mackay/HNM

Is there anything more heart-warmingly lovely than playing music with your children?

As a mum who loves nothing more than duetting with my teenage son – my piano to his pipes or my accordion to his piano – I would suggest there’s little to beat it.

Sharing our musical passions with our youngsters and encouraging them to learn, so that they too will have the joy of music in their lives, is not an easy road for a parent to take, though. It requires work, effort, dedication, not to mention steely resolve when it comes to keeping their practising going and helping them through challenging patches.

However, when they reach the stage of playing tunes or being able to play along with others, it is truly heart-melting. One of the aspects of lockdown music I have enjoyed most is watching and hearing so many youngsters in our communities bringing smiles and enjoyment to so many people with their music.

Seeing little Archie Chisholm on piano, accompanying his dad Duncan on fiddle, during some of his online #CovidCeilidh sessions, are such sweet moments. Celebrated local musician and composer Duncan sits beside Archie, supporting him with nurturing warmth as they play together and it’s just so very lovely!

Another wee champ is young Charlie MacLennan, of Culduthel, Inverness, who at just 11 years old is already a prize-winning piper. Charlie has been out in the street with his bagpipes every Thursday evening during the pandemic’s Clap for Carers and I’m very glad I live close enough to hear his beautiful and accomplished playing each week. Well done, Charlie!

Among my regular online tune-ins are the kitchen ceilidhs of well-known musicians Melanie and Mike Simpson of Evanton. Melanie on accordion and Mike on guitar, banjo and all things stringed, are joined by their talented teenagers Quin and Orin on guitar and flute. Sitting around their kitchen table in cosy candlelight, these gorgeous sessions are full of warmth, and the love of these parents enjoying music with their youngsters is palpable and a delight to watch.

The weekly live-streamed homely singsongs of Inverness’s Fiona MacKenzie and husband Brian O hEadhra with their teenage daughters Òrla and Ròise are just beautiful, with these multi-talented girls singing, playing and sharing their own original songs too.

Likewise, their cousins young Donald and Peigi Barker of North Kessock whose superb online performances are full of grace, poise and accomplishment beyond their years.

In my last article, I celebrated the inspiring achievements of our elders during these challenging times, but this week may I offer a huge thank you – Mìle taing! – to all the wonderful young people (and their parents!) throughout the Highlands for bringing so much joy to us all.

Your music is lighting up lives and warming hearts more than you know.


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