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Members' News     January 2011 

Updated 1st January

2010 - what was it all about? An what of 2011?
The beginning of a new year is the time to reminisce about the year that's passed and to make foolish promises about the new one. Far be it from me to break with such solid and well-founded traditions. So what was 2010 all about? We played gigs -  quite a few but we didn't overdo it.  We made many people happy playing for their events - small affairs in local halls through to an international conference and then even on to TV.  But really these things are mainly (and I say this as someone who has eaten a lot of cake recently) the icing on the cake, but not the cake itself.  What 2010 was really about were the Friday evening sessions (we had 45 or thereabouts) workshops and away weekends, about learning new tunes and new people coming along to join the rest of us in playing together.  And that all seemed to happen pretty much as it has before. We had the best annual ceilidh for several years and raised loads of money for WaterAid. 

Over the past couple of years we have had many new people joining the group and we have more or less run out of the Music Book One and stocks are pretty low now of the Big Ceilidh. We'll be needing new books soon -  see below.

So what next for 2011?  Well the sensible thing would be to carry on doing the same sort of things in more or less the same way I suppose, providing that's what everyone wants, which from what you have been saying it is.  A few people have commented on ways to improve things - one to one tutor sessions (which we began in 2010), more "session style" playing later in the evening on Fridays, mixing up the sets a bit. A bit less tune learning except for those who want to get to the ceilidh band level; they have asked to learn more.  We can do all these things.  There was one comment about managing to stay informal but still having a sort of structure that everyone can follow.  We'll carry on with that unless you say stop. And of course we'll do more gigs - because they are great fun.

Sadly we lose people from the group for all sorts of different reasons.  This is always a pity. Sometimes we are simply not what they were looking for, others just can't come often enough and they drift away. Some go off to new jobs or university.  We do our best to find out if we are providing what members need and as always we encourage anyone to tell us what that is.

Workshops and tutors
Dates for tutors will be announced in January.  As we had to cancel so many dates at the end of 2010 because of the unusually cold and snowy conditions we can afford to run quite a few in 2011.  There will be a mix of group and one-to-one sessions aimed mainly at under 18s but covering all stages of learning. 

What about away weekends in 2011?  If you are interested send us an email. (Members only)

Latest Tunes on the Music pages
At the end of 2010  we put up three tunes that were asked for;
  • Da Slockit Light;  Da Peerie Hoose Ahint the Burn;  Hector the Hero
We always try to put any new tunes on the web site so that anyone who forgets them or who missed the session when we learnt to play them can find them and teach themselves. If you need printed music though, just ask.

December was a pinnacle of gig months for BFG. Despite having two cancelled because of the weather (including Camphill -  haven't missed that for years -  our longest standing regular event perhaps) we had four absolutely superb gigs to finish the year. The Kincarrathie House everyone gig on the Wednesday evening before Christmas was fantastic.  I really want to thank everyone who came -  I didn't count but there must have been nearly 30 of us there - and you all played so well.  We had plenty of foot-tapping and even a bit of singing and somehow managed the epic version of Troika too.  Great gig.  We had a very good ceilidh in Dunning - a family party with plenty of enthusiastic dancing.  Of course on the 4th we played Perth Concert Hall (un-rehearsed new sets, boy we live dangerously) for the Hands Up for Trad (Na Trads) music awards. This was then broadcast on TV.  And then in huge contrast to all these things we had a four piece band at a small wedding in Comrie, overlooking the beautifully snowy landscape and accompanying the Humanist ceremony and the informal pre-meal gathering.  Diversity and adaptability - and a little bit of flying by the seats of our pants. Thanks to everyone in BFG who make the gigs possible and who puts themselves out to come along. We really do need you and in 2011 we aim to have a few more Everyone gigs.

Na Trads
If you missed the BFG performance at the Hands Up for Trad 2010 awards go to our Old News page (Dec 2010) for links.

Friday Sessions
December was a bit quieter due to the weather -  especially the week we had to cancel! Hope no one turned up.  Remember to watch the web for last minute changes of plan.  We had a good social at the Hotel to finish the year -  thanks go to the Blackford Hotel for making us welcome and allowing us to use the function room occasionally.  At the social we had a mini performance led by Cameron who has been learning the guitar accompaniments for his Duke of Edinburgh award.  The boy done well - but the proof of the effort will be in whether he carries on.  Remember Cameron, music and a guitar (fiddle, banjo etc.) is for life not just for Christmas.

New Music Books
We are running out of books so we are taking this opportunity to revise the ones we have.  We will add some more beginners tunes to the first book and take out the harder ones.  We will also add more to help beginners with learning. This book will become the Wee Music Book.   The harder tunes will be added to a revised version of the Big Ceilidh Book which will also include some of the tunes we have learn over the past 2 years but which are not in either book. We'll also drop a few things that we have never really played. 

The Wee Music Book will be made entirely by BFG and we may be looking for some volunteers to help with putting them together.  Binding may take a a couple of evenings.  We'll be doing this book in February all being well.  The revised Big Ceilidh Book will be printed commercially and that will cost us a lot of money. So we want everyone in the group to buy a copy of their own so that BFG doesn't have to put up all the money at the start.

Before we finish these books we want your ideas and suggestions for tunes to include. Please email them or add them to the list at the hall on Fridays.

There are new photos on the Members' Page and more to follow.  Does anyone want to take responsibility for making sure we always have a supply of photos?  BFG owns a camera and it is available for anyone to use at gigs and sessions.

The Niblick, Auchterarder.  Next one is possibly on Thursday 6th January from 8.30 pm. All welcome. No previous experience of sessions required. We'll play stuff everyone knows. The Tappit Hen in Dunblane Session every Tuesday from 9.00. Well worth the journey.

What do you want to say?

The answer apparently is nothing.  So in a FINAL attempt to get someone to do something I will provide an incentive. A small but valuable reward will be given to a guest contributor each month.  Who will take up the challenge?  A small bit of news, a photo with a story, something about a new tune you've learnt ....   The choices are endless. Come on guys, show some enthusiasm.

Members' News     February 2011

Gigs for February.  Everyone is needed for Friday 25th - Bridge of Allan.  Tune list and music sets ready to print out are on the Members' Page.

Workshops and tutors
Dates for tutors are all on the Fridays page.  We have Marie Fielding and Ruaridh Campbell for three Fridays in February and again for at least two weeks in March.  You can put your name down for a one-to-one session on the list at the hall. We will do our best to make sure everyone gets a session with the tutors, although priority will be given to under 18s once everyone has had at least one session. 

It is a long standing principle of BFG that we do not rely on tutors or on anything like formal classes.  This is all well and good but it requires two things of every member.  First, a bit of self-motivation to learn new tunes. And second, for members to help each other, which is theme I pick up below.

We are going to book an adults weekend in May if possible and an under18s weekend in August /  September.  We need volunteers to help, suggestions for venues and an idea of numbers and will be getting you all to sign up at the hall soon.

Friday Sessions
January has got off to a flying start. We have been pretty busy most weeks despite cold and wet weather, and colds and other bugs.  Welcome to the new members.  The format seems to have settled once again to an old and familiar pattern -  a bit of a warm up (remember A, D and G scales -  I know it sounds dull but it is a good way to warm up).  Then "everyone tunes" with folk going off to learn as we reach the point where they can't manage without some help.  On on the subject of help .......

HELP!    For the usual format of Fridays to work we really do need a few more people to offer their assistance as "teachers", to demonstrate tunes to individuals and groups, to make useful and positive observations to learners, in fact to teach a bit.  Please don't ignore this request. Let us know if you are willing to spend 15-20 minutes on Fridays with others, helping them to learn and to play better. Thanks of course to the regular helpers.

Latest Tunes on the Music pages
We always try to put any new tunes on the web site so that anyone who forgets them or who missed the session when we learnt to play them can find them and teach themselves. If you need printed music though, just ask.

Last month not only saw several new tunes go up, but also the completion of links to all but one of the tunes listed from our books.  Hooray.

January is usually a bit quite for gigs. That was certainly true this year with just one gig, the usual Burns Supper in Kinbuck.  This is a good gig for a couple of younger players to go along to once they have reached a stage where they can play tunes in unfamiliar keys (to suit a singer) and to busk along with a harmony to accompany the singer. Freya and Rebecca were our stars this year.  I should also thank a stand in singer -  Iain - who came in at the last minute as our regular and long time BFG singer David Leask was laid low with a bug. 

What this tells me is that we could do with a few more singers.  Somewhere in our ranks I know we have singers who have yet to show themselves.  Come on - sing out.

New Music Books
As I said in the news last month we are producing new music books.  The replacement for Music Book One is called the Wee Music Book and is now ready for printing. The first copies will be available soon.  We will need some volunteer help to bind them. 

The Big Ceilidh Book is almost out of print and we will do a replacement later in the year.

We asked for suggestions of tunes to include these books -  to date I have received just three suggestions. Please email, phone or just tell me the names of any tunes you think should be included. (Obviously this applies to members only.  Anyone else reading this for fun, research or plain nosiness should keep a list for their own books of course.)

And finally, congratulations ...
Well done and congratulations to Kay for passing her Masters Degree (Traditional Music) course in Ireland.  Just goes to show that BFG can do some people some good some of the time!!!

The Niblick, Auchterarder.  Next one is on Thursday 6th January from 8.30 pm. All welcome. No previous experience of sessions required. We'll play stuff everyone knows. The Tappit Hen in Dunblane Session every Tuesday from 9.00. Well worth the journey.

What do you want to say?

Oh My God. You lot are a waste of space. I have no idea why I bother asking for your contributions since none of you have sufficient grey matter to even offer me an insult.  What's the matter with you, don't you care? Do you think I like producing this stuff month after month, unaided by any of you?  Eh?  Last month I even offered a reward to all contributors.  So I have unclaimed gifts. A very large tin of top quality chocolates.  A fine bottle of Malt Whisky. A £25 voucher for a top High Street emporium.  A cuddly toy.  An X-factor calendar for 2010.  Well don't think that you'll necessarily get a choice of any of these things now, but I still hold a slight hope that this month someone will come up with something and I still have rewards to give.  Nah! Only kidding -  I have no hope whatsoever -  you are ************************************************************
Apologies for the error in the above message.  Overworked keyboard malfunction code 424.

Members' News     March 2011

Gigs for February.   Everyone is needed for the gig in Crieff on Saturday 26th March. 

You may notice that we have a few gigs on Friday evenings in March and April.  These will not need many players and the normal Friday sessions are running as normal.


Auditions are on 9 March and applications must be in by Sunday 6th march

There are links here to
more information and an
application form

It should be good for anyone at BFG

Workshops and tutors
Well the tutors seemed popular in February.  A bit of a hiccup getting Ruaridh but Marie managed to do double sessions one week to make up.  Anyway, overall we put on nearly 30 one-to-one sessions with the tutors which is good.  The feedback from you was that it was well worth it and the tutors certainly seemed to think that it is making a difference.

The good news is that we are doing it again in March.  There are three dates -  11th, 18th and 25th.  On the first two we have Marie and Ruaridh again and on the last we just have Ruaridh.  We already have some names but you will be able to add yours to the list at the hall on Friday 4th. If you can't be there that night but want a lesson then send us an email.  If you are down for a lesson but can't make it please let us know as we have people in reserve to fill any gaps. We'll do out best to fit you all in.

Please remember that the lessons are an extra and not a replacement for our normal practice sessions and whatever you do yourself through the week.  We can't run lessons all the time and BFG is more about learning together anyway and we don't want that to change.

We had hoped to have an away weekend in May but it has been impossible to get a date that many folk can manage so we won't be running a weekend away until the autumn.

Friday Sessions
February sessions were a little different from normal, in part because we had the tutors and also because we spent so much time learning new sets for the concert in Bridge of Allan. What this has meant is that beginners have had a little less attention than normal and that many people have also felt under a bit of pressure to get the new things in their heads.  Some of you have said that the break from the normal format has been an incentive to learn a bit more, and that has to be a good thing.  However, we don't want anyone to feel left out so in March we will be back to running things in our normal chaotic way.

Annual General Meeting (AGM)
The AGM will be held on 6th May at the Blackford Hotel.  Any items for the agenda should be sent to BFG email address or passed to the Secretary (Andy Sloan) not later than end April.  If you wish to stand for one of the committee places or wish to nominate anyone please let Andy know. 

At the AGM we will deal with all the usual business as quickly as possible, then talk about any ideas you have for the way BFG does things. After that we'll play some tunes.  Light refreshments will be available.  Please don't miss this out - BFG is your club and while you may not want to help run it we want to know what you want.

Last month I made a plea for more people to step forward and help as "teachers" or at least just to be around to offer a bit of help to others.  It would also be very good if more people took a turn in leading tunes and helping the session along.  Anyone can do it. Volunteers please -  or we'll just pick on you anyway.

Latest Tunes on the Music pages
Nothing new this month, but that's because loads went up recently and you should find all our regular stuff on the music pages now.

A new tune learning list will be available soon. On top of that we may start asking people to bring us new tunes to play and learn.  That doesn't mean you will have to teach them, although you will have to play them for us. So if you have picked up a tune somewhere then bring it along.

Back to top

Three gigs in February.  The first was a standard ceilidh in Crieff. The first one I have missed for a very long time and one of only two ceilidhs I have missed in about 7 years (I'll tell later why I wasn't there.) I gather that dancing was not a particularly popular pastime at the ceilidh - something that can make it seem a very long evening for the band.  The next event, a real ceilidh with tunes and dancing, was very different.  A Tuesday evening at Ochil Towers School turned out to be the best fun we'd had for ages. The audience were very enthusiastic and the band responded with some excellent playing.  This is the sort of thing we should do more often and the sort of dance that many BFG members would feel very comfortable playing at.

The last gig was unusual. Not only did we have a programme, we had rehearsed (more to do with having a theme around which to arrange sets than for any other reason) and our tunes were interspersed with poetry and other readings.  It was all much more formal than our usual events, but having said that it seemed to go well enough.  Most of the sets worked well, despite never having been performed in pubic before, with the notable exception of the failure to get from MacLaine of Lochbuie to Corn Rigs without a near terminal collapse. Well done Freya for the rescue.  What do we learn from this - that it will be all right on the night, but it will be risky!

And so why did I miss that ceilidh?  Well I went to an adult Feis at Fort Augustus and played tunes for three days, met lots of great folk and had a brilliant time. I intend to go again next year and I thoroughly recommend it to anyone.

New Music Books
The replacement for Music Book One is the Wee Music Book and the first copies are ready for purchase.  We have not fixed a price as yet.  We will also need to do a bit of new recording so that anyone who wants to hear how the tunes go can get a CD or download.

The Big Ceilidh Book is almost out of print and we will do a replacement later in the year. It is certainly not too late to suggest new tunes to include, but don't delay as the next job is to start getting the contents of the book organised.

The Niblick, AuchterarderNext session is on Thursday 3rd March from 8.45 pm. All welcome. No previous experience of sessions required. We'll play stuff everyone knows. The Tappit Hen (Dunblane) session every Tuesday is from 9.00. Well worth the journey.

What do you want to say?

I still have the unclaimed rewards for contributions to the web news. A very large tin of top quality chocolates.  A fine bottle of Malt Whisky. A £25 voucher for a top High Street emporium. I take it no one wants them.  Last chance.

Members' News     April 2011                                                                         Updated 1st April   

New Fiddles for the Ceilidh band and Gigs

Following some difficulty at gigs and with amplification BFG is taking in a supply of new fiddles.  They may take a bit of getting used to but we think you'll agree that they are both tasteful and fun.  At £400 each we can only afford to buy a few at once.  To help raise cash we would like everyone to return any BFG fiddles that we can sell.  We will also be doing a sponsored event -  its a local tradition to walk barefoot along the Allan Water in Blackford so we might do that - and we will apply to the Community Reserve Awards Perthshire for some grant aid.

The picture below is the deluxe model we are hoping to buy.  We'll have one on show at the hall this Friday.

Workshops and tutors
March saw the end of the winter tutor sessions.  Many thanks to Ruaridh Campbell and Marie Fielding who made them such a success.  We hope that everyone got something out of the one to one and group sessions.  We should also thank Ochil Developments Blackford Community Fund administered by the Scottish Community Foundation who provided a generous grant that met half the costs of the tutor sessions since June last year.

Friday Sessions
Four sessions with tutors in March and that was what we did.  Its been busy, its been a bit chaotic at times, its been noisy, its been a laugh.

Annual General Meeting (AGM)
The AGM will be held on 6th May at the Blackford Hotel.  Any items for the agenda should be sent to BFG email address or passed to the Secretary (Andy Sloan) not later than end April.  If you wish to stand for one of the committee places or wish to nominate anyone please let Andy know. 

There will be more about the AGM on the AGM page (linked also to the Member' Page).The information will include the agenda, reports, accounts and any resolutions on which we need to vote.  It is proposed to amend the Constitution slightly so you may want to go and check the details.

At the AGM we will deal with all the usual business as quickly as possible, then talk about any changes you want to how BFG does things and then we play tunes.  Light refreshments will be available.

Over the past couple of months we have asked for a little more help running the Friday sessions.  It is good to see one or two folk offering a hand now and again. Thanks. There is no reason why anyone can't lead a part of the session

Latest Tunes on the Music pages
You may have noticed that the music pages disappeared for a while.  This is because we included a number of tunes which are still under copyright and had to take them off. While we have permission to use them in our books that didn't include putting them on the web.  We are contacting copyright holders for permission but it will take some time to get those tunes back up. Most of our tunes are traditional and not covered by copyright and these are all back on the Music Pages now.  Some tunes will never go back on the web either because we won't get permission, or because we simply don't need them anymore (some we never played to be honest). If any member wants these tunes just ask and we will point you in the direction of the dots. 

What is really interesting about this is the different reactions from the composers and publishers. It varies from delight that we want to use and promote the tunes right through to flat refusal, perhaps because of potential loss of income.  We have always acknowledged the role of composers and have wished them riches and fame as a result of their efforts, knowing full well that neither is particularly likely.  Perhaps that is why we had so much enthusiasm from composers for our big tune book.  Of course we have virtually run out of the book and will be seeking permissions to redo it later this year in a new and revised form.

We did a party in Perth - part dance part concert part background music. 

We did a ceilidh at Stirling University for a conference. These events are always different. Sometimes we have enthusiasm but no idea about dancing (or knowledge of English which makes for interesting dance calling) and sometimes there is enthusiasm and some expertise. And then there are times when we have little interest in dancing at all and it is left to small number to do every dance. Well that's how it was this time.  Out of 80+ people we managed a few dances with about 10-12 people. A few others listened.  But even so, those that stayed enjoyed it well enough and we even got a tip -  thank you sir!  One of things I have learnt over the years is not to worry if people don't dance. 

Last gig of the month was a concert - two full 40 minute sets - at Crieff Parish Hall.  Judging by the applause and the smiles it all went down well. We played everything from Twinkle right through to some galloping reels.  Thanks to everyone who came (band and audience)- great night again.

New Music Books

The Wee Music Book has replaced the purple and green books.  It is available to members only for £8.  All the tunes are in coloured notation, some with  numbering too.  Ideal for beginners.

We need ideas soon for tunes to put in the new edition of The Big Ceilidh Book.  Ideas on a postcard, back of envelope or email please.

The Niblick, AuchterarderNext session is on Thursday 7th April from 8.45 pm. All welcome. No previous experience of sessions required. We'll play stuff everyone knows. The Tappit Hen (Dunblane) session every Tuesday is from 9.00. Well worth the journey.

Great new session at the Cross Keys, Kippen every other Sunday. See Sessions page. It is at tea time and is suitable for all abilities and all ages. Kate B is the organiser (in a random sort of a way).

Members' News     May 2011


This week sees the most important election of the year - the candidates are waiting nervously to see who will be elected to the new BFG Committee.  And who will be the new scapegoat - following in the long line since Ewan, Andrew, Aly, Jazzy, Freya and Matthew.  For years we found comfort in knowing that there is someone to blame.

Here are some of the soon to be disappointed faces.

Iain "Deal or no deal" Gray.  has already started touting BFG ceilidh tickets in pursuit of a second career.

Alex "Hamster" Salmond.  Puts a brave face on rejection and tries to sell himself as a music conductor. On yer bus Alex!

Tavish "Nick who?" Scott - already going under cover -  but we can see right through that - duh!

Annabel "does my head look big in this" Goldie. No Annabel the BFG CDs need a CD player - sort of like like a record player, ish.

Hobbes. Credible attempt but couldn't get his paws to work a fiddle.

Annual General Meeting (AGM) and Social - 7.00 to 10.30 6th May

Don't miss the AGM Free snacks and soft drinks for members.  At the Blackford Hotel Friday 6th May.

Usual business - short reports and stuff.  Then proposals to change the constitution. If these are passed there will be three new places on the committee and elections will then be held for these and the usual 5 places including the office bearers.  There is room for one under 18 member, convenor, secretary and treasurer plus other members who may volunteer to do things like run events.

All the details including papers are on the special AGM Page.

Please print off your own copies of papers if you can. Thanks.  There will be a few copies available on the night.

Friday Sessions
April saw us return to tune learning mode again.  A couple of new tunes -  Jack Daniel's Reel (thanks to Kay), Paddy's Trip to Scotland and An Eala Ban with the harmony.  We closed for one week in the extra long spring holiday but other than that people kept turning up and playing.  Thanks to everyone who did a bit of teaching.

Callers -  training given, no experience needed
We need 4 or 5 people to learn a couple of dances each so that we can share the calling at a local ceilidh in June.  We have 3 volunteers already so if you want to help just speak to Steve and we will organise a short session to give you some practice.

Over the past couple of months we have asked for a little more help running the Friday sessions.  It is good to see one or two folk offering a hand now and again. Thanks. There is no reason why anyone can't lead a part of the session

Latest Tunes on the Music pages and new Big Ceilidh Book (the red one!)
Nothing new this month.  However, we are now sorting out which tunes to put into the new edition of the Big Ceilidh Book.  If you visit the members' page there is a link to the lists of tunes in the current books and what we think we might put in the new book. But we want your ideas too. So please4 have a look and give us some ideas.

Back to top

Our longest standing annual gig (even longer than our anniversary ceilidh) is the the Wednesday Club in Letham - thanks to those of you who made it along this year to keep the tradition going.

Three ceilidhs at the end of the month and although I say it myself, I don't think the band has ever sounded better.  We have a couple of people ready to join in now as regular members of the ceilidh band and if others are interested we will be starting some special ceilidh practice sessions soon.

New Music Books

The Wee Music Book is now the new beginners book.  It is available to members only for £8. 

Members' News     June 2011                  

Members' BBQ
Blackford -  Saturday 25th June starting at 4 pm
Food, music and sunshine (we hope).

Annual General Meeting (AGM) and Social

The AGM was as usual a night of blistering debate, wit and excess.  The shock waves of the landslide victories for the committee positions will leave a lasting legacy on fiddle group politics and may well see the rebirth of the music nation.  But as they stride forward the committee members must humbly remember though that they now stand for one group, for one purpose, for one year and because they were unopposed!  Carrying the weight of responsibility for the whole group we want these men and women (and boy) to lead the whole group to the fiddling nirvana that we strive to find; to that higher place of harmonies and melodies in which we will find perfection and satisfaction.  We expect as ever to be disappointed.  Your Committee for 2011-12 is as follows

Steve, Andrew, Andy, Jake, Isobel, Cindy, Ian and Kate.  You will find the details and the minutes on the Members' Pages.

Friday Sessions
May seemed to vanish in a flash.  Did we have any sessions? Was I there?  The diary says we did and that I was.  I also recall doing a few new tunes.  Jack Daniel's, Da Peerie Hoose Ahint the Burn and another one which I can't remember.  All good fun anyway.  Keep practicing them and we still need to think about some new sets.

Workshops /  Away days / Tutors
The good news is that we know we have another £1000 grant towards these things. Details of that will follow.  So we will have an autumn session of workshops with tutors and a couple of day events.  We also hope to run an under 18s weekend possibly on the first weekend of September.  Adults will be later in the year. More details to follow.

Two of our new volunteer callers were tried out at a ceilidh in May.  Excellent and well done to both. 

Latest Tunes on the Music pages and new Big Ceilidh Book (the red one!)
Nothing new this month.  We have a few suggestions for the new Big Ceilidh Book, but not many.  But you have the summer to think about it.  The book is an Autumn project.  But we really do want your ideas. So please have a look at the details on the Members'' Page and give us some ideas.

Back to top

Two ceilidhs in May and an excellent Sunday everyone gig in the Blackford Hall for the oldies of Blackford.  It was nice to do this on home ground, especially as Catherine Hugget put together the most impressive range of cakes that BFG has seen in many years.  Please invite us again!  And well done to all the players who made it such a good afternoon.

Remember that in June there is the Langtoon Ceilidh - please go along as part of the crowd even if you are not playing. The band will be happy for extra players - even if you can only play a few tunes you should be able to join in.

New Music Books

The Wee Music Book is now the new beginners book.  It is available to members only for £8. 

The Niblick, AuchterarderNo session in the first week of June as there will be a Folk Night for everyone on 15 June as part of the Langtoon in June Festival.

Great new session at the Cross Keys, Kippen every other Sunday. See Sessions page. It is at tea time and is suitable for all abilities and all ages. Kate B is the organiser (in a random sort of a way).

What do you want to say?

All contributions should be emailed to BGF or handed in at a Friday session.

Members' News     July 2011

Summer is here (we're just waiting for the weather that goes with it!)
June was hardly fantastic for weather but on the day it really mattered (the BFG BBQ) the sun shone and we had food, music and entertainment thanks to Marjorie and Andy who allowed their garden and house to be invaded.  Thanks to them both and to the sun-spirit for making it such a nice afternoon.

Click picture for photos of BBQ
With summer comes holidays (for some) and sadly that means BFG closes down - or does it?  At the time of writing we are open as normal on 1st July, meeting at the hotel on 8th July, closed on 15th and 22nd and back to normal on 29th July.  But if there is enough interest we might meet at the hotel on 15th and/or 22nd.  Watch out for more information on the BFG Sessions page.

If you are going away on holiday, its OK to have a rest from playing, but if you can take your instrument and keep it safely while you are away it can also be a good time to get some relaxed playing done.  We don't advise taking fiddles to the beach or the pool. You may also feel somewhat strange carrying it around a theme park and if you are visiting Palermo or Chicago we strongly advise that you leave the fiddle behind. Cue gratuitous stereotype cartoon....

Friday Sessions
One day we'll be reporting on big changes to Friday sessions - not. No we just carry on much as ever.  There has been a good bit of new tune learning and revision of older stuff in June. See Latest Tunes bit below.

Latest Tunes on the Music pages
New tunes - we have a new set of Shetland Reels.  They can be found here.  We have not settled on the order yet but we will probably stick with them as they are.  There is a new ending to use with the last tune, only on the last time it is played in the set. Best played while slowing it down at the same time.

Other things we did -  second part (harmony) for Arran Boat. Its in the new Wee Music Book and will go on the music page soon.  The Roaring Jelly set was the main set we revisited.

Workshops /  Away days / Tutors
We applied for a grant from the Ochil Developments Blackford Community Fund again this year and have received £1000 towards workshops, weekend events and tutors.  Before we decide exactly how to spend the cash (plus £1200 of our own money which we will use for the same things) we want to know what members would like to do.  You can do this by completing the short ideas form that will be available at the hall/hotel on Fridays and on the members' page. Click here to download it. You can email it back or give it in at the hall or drop it off with Andrew or Andy.

Dance helpers
We have two ceilidhs for the Stirling University Summer Schools for overseas foreign language students and could do with a few BFG folk to come and help organise the dancers. You don't need to be able to call (but if you can that is great because you can help do that as well) but we need you to gently and diplomatically (we don't want an international situation to arise) shove the dancers in the right directions.  The gigs are on 7th July and 4th August. See gigs pages for details. Call or email Andrew in advance if you can, otherwise just turn up.

No other Gigs in July. 

Big Ceilidh Book (the red one!)
We still need your suggestions for tunes to include and leave out.  The link to the current list of ideas is here. 
Click book
for list.
BCB Cover
Let us know what you think should be in or out of the book.

A wee tale.  The other day when talking about tunes I was told in no uncertain terms by three members that one particular tune (not yet in the book but listed as one that might be put in) is very unpopular indeed. "No one likes it" I was told, which is interesting because no one has actually mentioned this within my earshot before. So I was surprised.  Its not a tune I feel strongly about either way, but it could have been put there, taken up valuable space and worst of all ended up on tune learning lists.  So beware, if you don't speak out you may get saddled with tunes you hate, or missing tunes you like and want others to play.

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The highlight was the Langtoon in June Ceilidh -  another year, another success and we gather that they now wished we had done the whole night. No disrespect to the other band, but that was what was wanted on the night.  Well done to the players - it was not the complete and normal ceilidh band or caller(s) but all seemed to go very well thus demonstrating yet again that things will indeed be alight on the night. Its that attitude that has got us this far so why change from a winning formula? (Avoiding sleepless nights, stress and potential embarrassment are three reasons I can come up with straight away.)

The Nibblick Folk Night attracted BFG players and people from far flung territories such as Dunblane, Gargunnock and who knows where. Auchterarder hits another high spot, so soon after the G8 in 2005.

The Niblick, AuchterarderUnlikely to be a session in July because of holidays and a ceilidh that night.

Great new session at the Cross Keys, Kippen every other Sunday. See Sessions page. It is at tea time and is suitable for all abilities and all ages. Kate B is the organiser (in a random sort of a way).

Members' News     August 2011

What a fantastic day!
Thanks to everyone from BFG who came to play, thanks to their friends and families for coming to listen and thanks to the wonderful people of that most wonderful of towns, Crieff, for coming down to MacRosty Park on Saturday 20th August for what could turn out to be an annual event -  Fiddlers in the Park.  The shiny restored bandstand accommodated about 20 people from BFG and the park accommodated many picnicers and listeners. The sun shone and the music flowed for three whole hours.  What more could we ask for? 

Friday Sessions
Isn't it odd how things work out.  The weeks we were going to close, we didn't and were OK for numbers, and the next week when we were always due to have a session, we were quiet.  I have no idea what this shows other than that the Fiddle Group never really shuts down, or perhaps none of you read the web page. Anyway, July was our holiday and from now on until the snow is falling we'll be grafting away week after week torturing the bowling club members by opening the windows and letting out our beautiful sounds on Friday evenings.

July is always a bit quiet, just one ceilidh for the Stirling Uni Summer School.  A great night for dancing though and many thanks to the extra BFG people who turned up to help the novice dancers.  It was really a case of pointing them in the right direction and letting go, but it worked.  Great feedback from the organisers and of course we are doing it all again in August for a new lot of foreign students.

Three dates for your diaries.  Saturday 20th August.  We'll be occupying the bandstand in the much revamped MacRostie Park in Crieff for a few hours.  If you can stay for the whole event that is great but we don't need everyone for the whole time if you can't. If its a nice day it will be good to bring a picnic and stay around for a while.

Then keep Tuesday 4th and Saturday 22nd October free.  We are playing concerts on those nights and we'll be trying to put together programmes with a bit of variation.  We'll be putting a few folk in charge of arranging some of our sets for performance -  nothing fancy but it will be good to add something new to how we play them. I promise no colour themes, just our usual sets.

Latest Tunes played and on the Music pages
New tunes  (and tunes we have revisited or learned for the first time):
Duke of Perth and three more reels.  Music at the hall but not yet on the web.
Harvest Home - Trumpet Hornpipe - Boys of Bluehill. All in the Big Ceilidh Book and the Music Pages
Phil the Fluter - Humours of California (also known as Off to California)
I'll Tell Me Ma - Knocabout Polka - Scotland the Brave -  Mairi's Wedding

New set of Shetland Reels (here) now in a final order with a new ending.

Workshops /  Away days / Tutors
Tutor evenings begin on 26th August and we'll have tutors on an off through to December.  Remember we need to know what you want from the tutors so please fill in the form using the "have your say" link below.  Dates and other details will be available at the Hall on Fridays.

Remember that the BFG annual ceilidh will be on 3rd December and we have the whole day booked for events at the Aytoun Hall in Auchterarder, including tutors, workshops, concerts and so on.  Make a day of it and don't forget we'll need you to sell tickets to friends, family and even to passers by.

Under 18s members away weekend is booked for 3-4 September.  Isobel is organising it all. We have a spare place or two left. No more adult volunteer helpers needed, although we may have room if you are very keen.

Dance helpers
Following on from trying out new callers we have tried adding dance helpers and it is clear that many BFG members have been hiding some of their talents.  There is a model here for future ceilidhs which should allow more people to join in. 

Big Ceilidh Book (the red one!)
The red book is running out and the new one is starting to take shape. This is your last call for tune suggestions. Thanks to those of you who have given suggestions.  the new book will have a wider selection that the current one and will be much improved all round.  Forget the link below as things have moved on.  Just bring your ideas to the hall -  any format you like, even just the name of the tune might do.  We'll be dropping about 70 tunes from the new book and a final tune list will be available at the end of August. After that its just a case of putting them in sets.

Click book
for list.
BCB Cover
Let us know what you think should be in or out of the book. 

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The Niblick, AuchterarderNo session on 4th August because we have a ceilidh that night. We may be on again in September, although we don't get much support from members or other players. Perhaps it s a winter thing.

Session at the Cross Keys, Kippen every other Sunday. See Sessions page. It is at tea time and is suitable for all abilities and all ages. Very enjoyable - you should try it if you can. call the pub to check which dates the session is on.

Speak out.

All contributions for the news page or other parts of the web site should be emailed to BGF or handed in at a Friday session.

Members' News     September 2011

Sorry but the News Page has been thrown together in a bit of a rush.  I have run out of time and won't be able to do a proper job on it until the middle of the month.  I hope you can live with the disappointment!

Friday Sessions
Details as ever are on the Sessions page.  We have Marie coming in September to do some tutoring.  We are also going to do things a little bit differently to make sure that everyone gets a good chance to get some assistance.

Workshops /  Away days / Tutors
The under 18s away weekend has just happened (3-4 September).  Some news and photos should appear here in a few days.  Big thanks to Pete Clark and Marie Fielding for a great weekend.

Well done our volunteers
Three of our must illustrious and long-serving members received prestigious volunteering awards last month.  Freya for 200 hours service, Matthew for 100 hours and Becky for 50 hours. Our local Councillor Ann Gaunt came to present the certificates which were signed by the First Minister, Alex Salmond and John Swinney, Cabinet Secretary for Finance. Photos and stuff to follow. 

And perhaps this is a good time to say that the group says byeeee! to Freya - the longest serving member of the group ever, and perhaps the longest serving tutor too.  But once she's gone, off to the frozen wastes of Aberdeen, we'll soon forget all about her.  As a token of our thanks she was presented with a jewellery voucher.

Latest Tunes on the Music pages
There are a few new tunes to go on the web, including a set of 7 reels for the Duke of Perth dance.  Watch this space for details of where to find the dots.

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August gigs included two excellent ceilidhs -  well done the band - and the most fantastic gig of the year; three hours on the band stand in the sun in the lovely McRosty park in Crieff.  Now some of you know that we, on our side of the tectonic plate divide, sometimes poke a bit of fun and the hill-dwellers of Crieff, who live in earthquakesville on the other side of divide.  It is all meant as a bit of fun and we are indebted to the good folk of Crieff who turned out to listen.  We would particularly like to thank the gentleman who stayed for over well 2 hours and provided applause at all the right moments.  Like us he took no break for lunch or even for a drink.  Well actually some of us did manage to eat and play at the same time -  easy for the fiddlers, messy for the flute player!  Photos to follow.

New Music Books

The Big Ceilidh Book, new edition, is now in preparation. Thanks for all the tune suggestions. Many are being followed up, including requests to about 50 composers and publishers to use copyright material. 

The Niblick, AuchterarderNext session will be October -  first Thursday. 
Tappit Hen Dunblane, every Tuesday from 9 p.m. (no under 18s)
Every Thursday - 7.30 Fiddlers workshop and then open session at Dunkeld (Taybank).
Session at the Cross Keys, Kippen every other Sunday. See Sessions page. It is at tea time and is suitable for all abilities and all ages. Kate B is the organiser (in a random sort of a way).

Members' News     October 2011

Devonvale Gig 22nd October.  Play list for members to follow.

Please Vote for us
We have applied for funds from the Perth St John's Shopping Centre Community Chest, a local fund for good causes. We have asked for money to help print our new music book.  The fund is over-subscribed so every vote will count.

Please go to this link and add your vote.  Please tell all your friends too. 

Voting details are also available at  www.stjshopping.co.uk/communitychest

Friday Sessions
Over the last few weeks we have been (I am almost embarrassed to admit this) practicing sets for performance.  There it is out in the open, a public confession.  Its not that practice is a bad thing, far from it, but we don't often prepare so formally for gigs.  But the good news is that it has improved our playing and made the sets a bit more interesting.  One of the reasons that we have not done a lot of arranging of sets in the past is because it ties us to ways of playing and more importantly to relying on certain people being there.  So the next step is to share the parts we have learned with each other so that we can mix and match people according to who is available.  That will be the most important thing we do over the next few weeks.  So rather than trying to do too many new tunes we'll improve the sets we play.

It has been observed that the playing of scales is being avoided by arriving late on Fridays.  Now scales are not things we learn for any other reason than it helps to play in tune and gives us a chance to think about tone and intonation (that is pitch) rather than notes.  The best thing is to do a couple of scales during the week. We certainly don't want to spend time on Fridays doing them. So please try to arrive on time.  Late arrivers may be asked to stay behind for scales!

Invitations from the Glasgow Fiddle Workshop
The Glasgow Fiddle Workshop is running an open workshop on Sunday 23rd October.  This would be a great opportunity for you to go and learn tunes and playing styles among kindred spirits.  The GFW has many members of all abilities and they have are encouraging people from a variety of other groups to go along for the day. It is £25, including lunch. I expect a few of us to be going along.  (This is an adults only workshop.)

These are the details GFW sent to us.
Glasgow Fiddle Workshop are holding a day of workshops with guest tutors. We are really keen for our members to mix with learners from other music groups and share the work that we are doing. I would be really grateful if you could pass on this info to your adult learners.

What: A day of workshops.
Improving Beginner Fiddle- Clare McLaughlin
Intermediate Fiddle- Lauren MacColl
Mixed Instrument and Song- Gillian Frame and Finlay Napier

When: 10:00-16:00, Sunday 23rd October
Where: Stow College West Campus, Hotspur Street, Glasgow
Cost: £25 and includes a pie but not the pint!

Full details and booking form can be found here.


Latest Tunes on the Music pages
Nothing new since these went up.
Duke of Perth Set A
Duke of Perth Set B
Highland Whisky and Up and Doon the Harbour (Marie's tunes)

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It seems that we didn't do any gigs in September.  Is that right or has my memory finally packed in?

New Music Books

The new book is taking shape. No more tune suggestions required.  We will be asking for money for pre-orders soon. It hope to print the book before Yuletide but we are waiting on the results of two funding applications. Fingers crossed.

Members' News     November 2011


We don't often talk about equipment and instruments and money, so let's do it now.  Over the last few years the ceilidh band has used a fine little box trailer to cart around the PA system (the amplifier and speakers and so on) and apart from the time that a wheel fell off it has been great.  But as some of you know it was never easy to pack it properly. Everything did fit in but only just and even then it had to packed in a  specific way.  For those who have towed it you will also know that it bounced a bit.  So the time came to get a new one.  But where to start?  The last one was an ebay purchase but took a while to find. So we investigated new ones and purely by chance were put in touch with someone selling a lovely virtually new posh trailer.  A deal was struck, we applied for some grant money from the Blackford Community Fund through the Scottish Community Foundation and we now have a new trailer. We still have the old one which we can sell or keep.  If members have any ideas or offers please let us know.

Old faithful                                                        New guy
                        trailer   New

More good news on the money front.  We applied for funds from a couple of places for the printing of the new music book.  We're still waiting to hear about one. But we have been successful about another and although I can't say how much or where it is coming from yet, it is a good start. 

We have quite a few fiddles at the moment which is good.  If you have  BFG fiddle on loan and think it needs a bit of care and attention let us know and we will try to sort it out.  Likewise if your bow is a bit tired we'll do something about that too. Which leads me on to Wilkies House of Music.

Wilkies of Perth.  After many years of supporting BFG, supplying fiddles, strings, bows, lighting and all sorts of other gear, Wilkies of Perth finally closed a couple of months ago due to retirement.  Obviously we wish all of those involved in running the shop a long and healthy retirement and would like to thank them for all that they have done for us and for the generous discount they offered to BFG and its members.  The bad news for us is that we now have to find other people to supply things and when it comes to replacing fiddles we'll need to look around for the best people to help.  If members are already using shops that they would like to recommend let us know and we'll put something on the members' pages.

Annual Ceilidh
The BFG Annual Ceilidh will be at the Aytoun Hall in Auchterarder on Saturday 3rd December. Please put it in your diaries and please arrange to sell at least 2-3 tickets to non members for each member that is coming.  The price is not yet fixed. Although there was a preference for cheaper tickets, there is mounting support to make it a bit more expensive as food and soft drinks are included.  Anyway, its still going to be cheap. There is no bar so your drinks will be cheap, you just bring you own, and the evening will be fantastic. The main good causes we want to support will be Save the Children (Africa appeal) and two local groups supporting cancer sufferers and disabled people.

Workshop Saturday 3rd December
On the day of the annual ceilidh there will be a workshop for all players with professional tutors.  That will take place in the afternoon.  We will also be looking for help with a coffee morning during which we'll be inviting the public to come and try a few instruments.  So any help you can give would be gratefully received.  For those members who have to travel we can organise for homes you can go to for rest, food, to change and so on.

Friday Sessions
October passed without too much variation from the norm.  We closed for one week due to there being a ceilidh that coincided with school holidays.  That underlined that we are reliant on a few people to run things and if they aren't there it can be tricky. And with no offence intended to players of things other than fiddles there is no doubt that it really helps fiddlers to have fiddle players leading things.  The good news is that we have a couple of nervous volunteers who are prepared to give it a good at some point.  And as anyone will know who witnessed my painful attempts to lead a bit of playing on the fiddle the standard can only get better.  So if you fancy leading a few tunes or even teaching one we it would be great if you volunteered.

Latest Tunes on the Music pages and new Big Ceilidh Book (the red one!)
Update on the Big Ceilidh Book.  The good news is that we have over 300 tunes. Most of the copyright stuff is done although we may have to drop a small number as we have not had answers.  No one has said no - what a generous lot these composers are.  The bad news is that getting the whole thing into a proper order and format, proofing the tunes and chords, the words and the dance instructions is very time-consuming.  The problem of having a real job is that it takes up too much time and therefore the book is going to be delayed.  We hoped to print in December, with copies available before the end of the year. That can't happen now. I need time over Yule and New year to finish it so we'll print in January.  It will be worth the wait, honest.

New tunes we have done include 100 Pipers.  (In the Wee Music Book and on the music pages.)

New BFG tunes for the book.  If you have not done so please go and listen to the tune samples on the link here and tell us which tunes should go into the book. (All voting is anonymous - really hand so you can vote for your own tune if its there.)

So far down the page and we eventually get to gigs.  October was busy with two  everyone gigs and two ceilidhs. Let's begin with the everyone gigs. The first was a concert with two 40 minute sections all played by BFG for Logie Guildry in Stirling.  We managed a pretty varied programme, from the self-arranged Sneeze Set to some fast reels and slow airs.  We had even rehearsed a bit and put together some fresh ideas for the tunes and it went down very well.  Thanks to everyone.  Then we had the Variety show in Tullicoultry at the end of the month.  What a contrast.  As the only acoustic act we were out-gunned in volume and even though we played well - with a lot of variation - there was no denying that on the night the audience were more X-Factor than we are used to.  So our two short sessions were good but not quite right for the night.  But the biggest prize of the night goes to Matthew who valiantly returned to the stage for the grand finale and represented BFG in the final massed karaoke.

The two ceilidhs went well, the first despite having substitute guitar players and caller.  Goes to show that we have depth as well as breadth.  The last gig was a roaring ceilidh which featured a standing ovation for the band and enthusiastic demands for an encore.  How could we refuse? 

.... and finally
This is exactly how we found this at the hall.  We couldn't possibly comment further. (Ha Ha Ha!)

Directions for pipers

We would also like to welcome one of our new members who is a piper and has the decency to play the small-pipes. He can feel free to ignore the directions.

  • The Niblick, AuchterarderNext session will be on 3rd November October -  first Thursday. 
  • Tappit Hen Dunblane, every Tuesday from 9 p.m. (no under 18s)
  • Every Thursday - 7.30 Fiddlers workshop and then open session at Dunkeld (Taybank).
  • Session at the Cross Keys, Kippen 1st and 3rd Sundays each month. See Sessions page. It is at tea time (5pm) and is suitable for all abilities and all ages.

Members' News     December 2011

The ceilidh was a fantastic success -  thanks to everyone who came.  We had record numbers of BFG players for the dance sets and plenty of active dancing all night.  Thanks to everyone for their help too.  The final sum raised for good causes was just over £1900 from the ceilidh and the coffee morning.    Cheques will be going out to 3 good causes in the new year.

Annual Ceilidh
The BFG Annual Ceilidh will be at the Aytoun Hall in Auchterarder on Saturday 3rd December. Tickets have just about sold out.  The main good causes we want to support will be Save the Children (Africa appeal) and two local groups supporting cancer sufferers and disabled people.  All players should bring your instruments.  we'll begin with our usual sets from the hall and get the dancing going before 8.00

Coffee Morning
On the day of the annual ceilidh there will be a coffee morning a the Aytoun Hall.  We will be raising money for the same causes as the at the ceilidh and also inviting people to come and try playing a range of instruments.  Please come and help if you can. Steve is organising this event.

On the afternoon before the annual ceilidh there will be a workshop for all players with Pete Clark. We'll be fixing what to do at the workshop at the hall session the evening before (Friday 2nd). 

Ummm......  Let me think.  Nah, theres nothing that can't wait.

Ideas for winter
This is not about lagging your pipes (although if there are any Blackford Pipers reading this we recommend that expandable foam for fixing those irritating noises) nor about fitting winter tyres but about what to do now that those long winter evenings have come along.  The obvious answer is to fill them with music.  Friday nights at the hall will no doubt be busy so long as the snow doesn't get in the way.  But what about the rest of the week?  There is no need to have silent miserable evenings just because it isn't Friday.  Here are a couple of suggestions.  Play your fiddle (or whatever instrument you play) and practice a few tunes so that you are really good at them.  Then learn a new tune and come and play it at the hall, not necessarily to everyone but to those you can rely on to be nice about it.  Or get together with another player and just play a few tunes together. Try mixing the sets about - putting tunes in different orders - or even muck about with the tunes themselves, change the tempo, the swing or even the notes.  There is nothing better than knowing a tune well enough that you can adapt it a bit.  There is no doubt as far as I am concerned that progress is about playing frequently and for long enough that you can learn something new or unlearn something that isn't right.  Add to that the commitment and fun of playing with one or two others and you have the main ingredients for success.  There is more help here about tune learning on the BFG website.

Friday Sessions
November was a tune learning month.  We tackled a few new things and there was good feedback about the way we divided people up.  We were lucky that Marie came along twice as well, as we were not overrun by fiddle playing volunteers to lead sessions.  I will be approaching people to be session leads soon so either polish up your excuses or be prepared to help a bit.

Latest Tunes on the Music pages and new Big Ceilidh Book (the red one!)
The new Big Ceilidh Book will be printed in January.  124 sets, more than 320 tunes and lots of other things too.  We still need your votes on BFG tunes to include (see the link at the top of the page.)  Thanks to those who have voted.  There are a few tunes that most people seem to like and a range of others which may also make the book. A few more votes might make the difference.

No new tunes on the web last month.  A revised ceilidh band set list is on the web - go to the ceilidh band page.

November was a bleak and gig-free month.

.... and finally
Anyone got a funny foto?  Here is last month's again to inspire you. Perhaps its time for a caption competition.