Wynds, Vennels and Dual Carriageways: the Changing Nature of Scottish Music

I’m writing what I hope will be a controversial conference paper for the forthcoming Understanding Scotland Musically AHRC-funded two-day conference in Newcastle, 20th-21st October.  I’ll be making the point that pinning down what Scottish music actually IS, is pretty much like going to look for the place where your ancestors come from, and wondering why it doesn’t look the same.  You can’t compare what people thought Scottish music was, 200 years ago, with what people think it is now.  Indeed, if you try to compare what I think Scottish music is, with what you think Scottish music is, or what my son, or your granny, think Scottish music is, you’ll get as many different answers. 

WherGreenock Dalrymple Street Car parke do the wynds, vennels and dual carriageways come into it?  Ah, that would be telling! Though I can tell you that if you see a small, middle-aged personage taking photographs in the middle of a roundabout in Greenock with a perplexed look on her furrowed brow, then you can be fairly sure that’ll be me.

The abstract for my paper can be found under the “Musicologist” tab on this blog.

Apologetic Postnominals: See Me? See My Letters!

PostnominalsI was looking at someone else’s website the other day.  If I thought I had a lot of postnominals, they had – ooh, easily three times as many, the whole width of their web-page.  They were Fellows of a vast number of societies, only one of which I’d ever heard of. Now, not all Fellows are equal: I worked hard to attain my FCLIP, and was elected into the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland. The academic, music and librarianship qualifications were all earned after a lot of blood, sweat and tears.  However, it set me wondering.  There’s a place for postnominals, but maybe one can overdo it.  Suffice to say, for the first time I found myself embarrassed, not because I’m well-qualified, but because those hard-earned postnominals may come across as showing off – an almost paranoid demonstration of one’s own worth.  Or am I becoming tainted with the Scottish “I kennt his faither” tendency, which basically translates as “who do they think they are?”

Establishing My USP

You’ll see from the pages on this website that I’m very enthusiastic about social media, and I author several other blogs.  However, they’re not all equally active.  At the same time, though, they all represent different aspects of me.

This KarenMcAulay.wordpress.com blog is going to be my main personal blog from now on.  Anything relating to my Scottish music research, or continuing professional development, will have its own place here, so TrueImaginaryFriends.blogspot.com, and AirsandGraces.cpd.blogspot.com will become dormant.

The successful performing arts blog, WhittakerLive.blogspot.com, which I author for the Whittaker Library at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland will, of course, be unaffected.  You’ll recognise my blogging “voice”, but it’s done in my daytime professional capacity.

I’ll maintain my Academia.edu page – it’s not a blog, and I think it’s worthwhile – but I intend to do a radical pruning of my LinkedIn pages.  They are beginning to look cluttered.

I can also be found tweeting @Karenmca. However, I generally use Facebook only for family and close friends. That’s my personal choice.

My USP?

Looking at my career, and my published output, it’s clear that I have a wide range of interests.  I’m an academic music librarian and a musicologist in equal measure. I’m a musician, an author, a teaching artist and a public speaker.

Commonwealth Games cushionCome Holy Ghost, clipAnd in my spare time, when having fingers in so many pies makes me think my head will surely explode, I chill out by doing dressmaking or patchwork, or sometimes arrange music for choral or instrumental ensembles.  I might tweet about that, but I don’t need to blog about it!

All these activities make it hard to decide what my USP (Unique Selling Proposition) actually is! Chameleon-like, I profile different aspects as the situation requires.  I’ll revert to this topic another day!

Officially a Teaching Artist, Author, and a Graduate’s Mum

 

In five days, I’ve seen our firstborn graduate, received a royalties cheque from my publisher, and scraped an Excellent in our recent Teaching Artist short course. Quite a week! Admittedly, the royalties only just cover my petrol costs for attending the graduation, but they’re royalties for all that. And my SCQF credits reflect the fact that it was just a short course, but it’s still great to have survived the course and come away with a decent mark! What next? Watch this space.

Students these days, part II

Meg Westbury did an anthropological study of students’ use of study space in Wolfson College, where she’s a librarian.  This is the second part of her blog – there’s a link to the earlier posting.  Interesting reading – it’s a different perspective on a perennial topic.

#UKANTHROLIB

ubc student 2 4093136283_b89704085c_oThis post is a continuation of last week’s post in which I described how, with no money and very little time, I successfully used a small survey and some ethnographic techniques to sharpen discussion about students’ technology and study-space needs at my college. It was remarkable how such techniques swiftly illuminated a host of previously unconsidered issues. In this post, I discuss specifically the ethnographic techniques that I used.

Cognitive Maps

At the end of the computer-room survey (discussed in last week’s post), I asked if the students would be interested in doing a quick 10-minute follow-up interview with me, and about a third said yes. I felt strongly that there was likely more to be said about their use of the computer room than my simple survey could get at. I’ve been inspired lately by the idea of cognitive mapping, discussed by anthropologists Donna Lanclos here and here

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I'm a musicologist disguised as a librarian. I've been writing this blog as part of my PG Certificate in Teaching and Learning in Higher Arts Education, at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.