My last student days at UHI: workshops, performances, and airport inspections – student blog by James Bauld 

Join fourth year student James Bauld on a recent trip to Stornoway for his final applied music residential at UHI Outer Hebrides and performances at An Lanntair:  

For me, the final residency of the academic year, held in Stornoway, begins with the journey to the island. As the most important week of our academic year approaches, nerves are high, especially since ferry cancellations and broken buses occurred just days before. Having experienced the shortcomings in the past, I am not feeling at ease either, as last year my flight was more than four hours late, and they lost my luggage. However, I arrived safely, on time, and with all my luggage – albeit a little weary-eyed from my 4am awakening. A few friends and I were sharing a room in the Heb Hostel, which is within easy walking distance of everything we needed in Stornoway, very convenient as I haven’t yet learned to drive.  

Loganair plane at an airport

As everyone made their way to the UHI Outer Hebrides Stornoway campus in dribs and drabs, we were greeted with crepes in the foyer. The provided coffee was a much-needed boost before the stress management workshop and Anna Wendy’s refresher on session tunes ahead of the McNeills session night on Wednesday. 

Students waiting to get their crepes at UHI Outer Hebrides

I slept early on the first evening to wake up and sort out all my technology ahead of my honours project showcase in the evening, featuring newly composed Scottish tunes on wooden flute combined with modern technology. I had experienced some difficulties recently, having to scrap everything using my interface and midi triggers, but some pedals can do the trick, helping me entertain people through a forty-minute solo flute set. With the omission of a proper board due to luggage space constraints, I went about duct-taping everything to a lid to minimise slipping, as I can’t look at my pedals when I’m playing into a microphone.  

A makeshift pedal arrangement for my performance duct-taped to a lid

My mum came over to see me perform, so I managed to sneak out and meet her off the ferry, as well as enjoy some coffee and cake in the sun ahead of my soundcheck. Originally programmed in the evening were three of us, but one fell ill before the residency and was arriving later in the week, and the other’s wife went into labour a week earlier than due so left the Island, leaving me the last one standing. I was waiting for something ominous to happen all day, but thankfully I made it to my performance, and all was well. Another interpretation of this could be that I wanted all the attention on me, and so I sabotaged my fellow peers, but I’ll leave that for you to decide… 

Performing on stage at An Lanntair

My two favourite workshops from the week were back-to-back on Thursday. The first was Peter’s workshop on song writing. Before arriving, I wasn’t sure what I would learn. As a composer, I have never written songs and as a musician, I am painfully aware of how awful my voice is. From the moment we arrived, Peter had us instantly engaged (even on the morning of the last full day!) and gave us great information about audience participation, involvement, as well as how to refine an idea. As an exercise, we all started with general themes and kept delving deeper until we had the main core of our song. 

The second workshop I found specifically inspiring and useful was given by Sean Paul, the CEO of An Lanntair, the venue in which our honours performances and public performances were held. Sean Paul covered advice on booking, marketing yourself as an individual or band on social media, as well as philosophies on arts exposure in rural areas. Having grown up in tiny villages in the Highlands and Islands, I really admire what he is doing, showcasing a variety of arts in An Lanntair as well as providing opportunities for young people trying to break through in this competitive space. This was a super informative workshop with a great question and answer session at the end. 

Students waiting backstage at An Lanntair

On the last evening, we had our public performance where students from all years had the opportunity to perform for the public. This always feels like the week is coming to an end with people beginning to show emotions, as for many of us, this is the end of our time at UHI. There were many words of encouragement as we all packed up backstage and headed to the pub for the last time. I also handed out a couple of copies of my recently released CDs to the people that have taught me over the last few years. 

After our last morning, we had a few hours of free time and spent the afternoon in a very sunny Stornoway with sunglasses, sunscreen, and shandies before we all needed to get our various modes of transport back home. While flying back my checked bag was chosen for a “random” inspection. Due to the previously mentioned packing restrictions, all my clothes and pedals/tech were in the same box, so this poor member of staff was rummaging through the week’s underwear and tops to make sure my tech wasn’t a threat to the plane. Despite flying internationally, I have never had any trouble, having flown with flutes, pedals, and even crampons. However, 100% of the time departing from Stornoway airport, I have been searched. Starting to think I must look suspicious to the island locals! 

We need to come up with some sort of excuse to meet up again on a remote island now that our time at UHI has come to an end. My vote would go to Madeira – probably just as easy to access! 

Enjoyed reading James blog? Find out how first year BSc (Hons) Applied Music student April Sutherland enjoyed the residential. 

One thought on “My last student days at UHI: workshops, performances, and airport inspections – student blog by James Bauld ”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s