Visit from SKUG

Elin Skogdal from SKUG in Norway writes about the group’s recent visit to Drake Music Scotland…

This is the band “Flame Wheels” – Anders plays drums, and Frode and Mathias are playing keyboard and xylotouch with music software E-Scape as their instrument. As well as playing, Mathias and Frode both sing. “Flame Wheels” has their rehearsals every week at SKUG Centre in Tromsø. SKUG is a music resource centre at a local music and dance school.

“Flame Wheels” has been saving up money to go somewhere where they could meet up with other disabled musicians to play with them and share knowledge and joy of making music. We were in touch with a couple of schools in England, but weren’t too impressed about the level of music education we experienced. Then we were advised to get in touch with Drake Music Scotland.  We’re very glad we did! From the very first time we talked we could feel we were on “the same planet” – the planet “Music” where we want everyone to be able to make good music and perform it.

First day in Edinburgh was with a music class at Braidburn School. We got to meet some very nice and enthusiastic students who performed a piece about a hot air balloon journey. We really felt we were taken up in the air with their musical hot air balloon – great piece of music with some very descriptive and interesting sounds.  Flame Wheels performed “Live and let die” and the Norwegian song “Har du fyr” where brave pupils and teacher from Braidburn were singing in Norwegian. Then we were invited to sing with them in a Scottish folksong.  Tongues wouldn’t quite work as they should, but it was great fun!

On our second day we went to Drake Music Scotland’s HQ to listen to and play with some music groups rehearsing in their studios. Liveheart, Screaming Rainbows and the Digital Ensemble played varied and FAB music. We all enjoyed listening to their music and playing with them. There were some good improvisational moments between Scottish and Norwegian musicians. Exploring music and instruments with the Digital Ensemble was very inspiring. We hope to be able to maybe make a joint piece with them which can be performed in Norway and in Scotland.


We could see reason DMS is doing high quality music work is a combination of highly qualified and enthusiastic staff and having good studios, offices and equipment.

Wednesday we had a day off to explore Edinburgh. Some went to see the castle, to buy a kilt, to record fair, or just explore the very interesting city of Edinburgh. Tromsø is now the biggest city of Northern Norway, but just 100 years ago it was a small fishing town. We have some modern big buildings, but not any old grand beautiful building s which we could admire on every street in Edinburgh.

Thursday was technology day at Drake Music Scotland HQ were we were shown latest development of the Skoog, and Flame Wheels musicians had the chance to test Brainfingers. Looked like you need to practice to get used to it, but Mathias did well using his jaw muscles to control a game and music. SKUG also presented possibilities of music making and individual adaptions using software E-Scape and Apollo Ensemble, and hardware/instruments like the Press sensor, Magic Flute and the Xylotouch.

Our collaboration was summed up with talks and a lovely Italian dinner Thursday night (We had nice Haggis another day). We are all keen to come back and will start saving up for another visit. We also hope to see Drake Music Scotland in Tromsø, where they can meet more of our students and we can share more ideas and knowledge about music making for everyone.

1000 TAKK!! To Pete Sparkes and to all staff and musicians at Drake Music Scotland who organized the visit, shared music and made us feel very welcome.