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The We Make Music Companion launches

Accompanying our We Make Music Libraries where people are able to borrow an instrument for free, the Companion will guide musicians of all levels towards opportunities to learn their instrument and participate in Scotland’s diverse range of music making activities. This is the first live national map of music-making and music education in Scotland

A brand new digital resource to strengthen music learning across Scotland

The We Make Music (WMM) Companion is a new initiative that looks to provide expert guidance to people of all ages and stages who want to make music. Whatever kind of music floats someone’s boat, the WMM Companion is an easy-to-navigate website that will guide the learner, teacher, parent, carer (as well as active musicians) through its search engine to access a broad range of tuition, guidance, local music groups, educational pathways, and online resources. It is launched here as a Beta version, intended to road-test functionality, and gather user feedback to make the WMM Companion as useful and powerful a resource as it has the potential to be.

The need for the The WMM Companion was highlighted by the runaway success of our initial fourteen We Make Music Libraries in Fife, North Ayrshire, Edinburgh, West Lothian, and the Scottish Borders. Libraries like this, stocking a wide variety of instruments from guitars, keyboards, and ukuleles, to violins, trombones, and orchestral instruments, as well as music software and midi keyboards, are spreading quickly throughout the rest of the country. The WMM Companion will signpost all that a learner needs to know to progress on the instrument of their choice. It will also point the way towards local music groups, schools, community projects and venues, to enable access to all of the social and cultural experiences being offered around Scotland.

We Make Music Scotland is the banner adopted by the Music Education Partnership Group (MEPG) to identify the raft of initiatives it has launched with the aim of furthering its vision of Scotland as a place where the transformative potential of music is valued, nurtured, and experienced by all. MEPG is an independent charity advocating for accessible and high-quality music education in all its forms. The WMM Companion is the knowledge base supporting the success of everything MEPG does.

The We Make Music Companion has been assembled by editor-in-chief, Dr Graeme Smillie, assisted by an editorial board of music education experts chaired by MEPG convenor John Wallace, and Cat Major, MEPG’s web designer. Graeme plays bass guitar and keyboards all over the world in addition to his position of Tutor in Popular music at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and Lecturer in Music and Music Business at UHI Perth.

About the Companion, Graeme Smillie says:

“This resource really fulfils a need for visibility and accessibility towards music education opportunities in Scotland. The process of compiling this companion has highlighted the wealth of music making in Scotland, but also how important it is to be grown, preserved, developed, and supported. This is just the first step- laying the groundwork in making all of this work visible for learners and educators, but next it feels important for government and policy makers to be able to see how rich the Scottish music education ecology is, how integral it is to generating a truly diverse and grounded cultural landscape, and how important it is that it is properly supported and funded.”

Cat Major, who has created the user-friendly interface says:

“The joy of learning and making music should be accessible to everyone. Every music learner has different goals and needs, and we hope the Companion helps people find the opportunities that are right for them. It’s been fantastic to be part of a project that highlights and celebrates the incredible work happening around Scotland.”

Dr Anita Collins (Melbourne) founder of Bigger, Better, Brains says:

“Music education is incredibly important for the development of every child. It gives children the opportunity to experience music as an art form that can also improve their thinking, memory, and planning skills, enhance their auditory processing, which improves their language skills and regulates their emotions and ability to deal with frustration. Every child needs music education to ensure they have solid cognitive foundations for learning.”

Prof Jeffrey Sharkey (Principal, Royal Conservatoire of Scotland) says:

“The WMM Companion will help musicians of all ages find the best learning opportunities to suit them throughout Scotland. It’s more than a mapping – it’s a celebration of the range of formal and informal learning opportunities that support active participation in the art of music”

The development of the We Make Music Companion was assisted by an editorial board of music education experts chaired by MEPG convenor John Wallace, CBE who said:

“The WMM Companion is a dream come true. It is the essential guidebook in easily accessible digital form to all that is good in music education. I remember its creator, Graeme Smillie, as an RCS PhD student coming to me when I was Principal with an amazing manifesto for music in Scotland. Since that time, I have unashamedly copied his ideas and become his most ardent follower.”

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