A Dumfries musician is hoping to boost the spirits of lockdown families and help them learn new skills.
Claire Hastings hopes families will join her Sunday morning online music sessions, designed to help children find their feet in the world of music.
The 30-year-old graduate of the former Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama – now known at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland –
has a background in traditional Scottish music.
Claire, whose family live in Holywood, has worked extensively teaching Scots and gaelic traditional song and instruments to young pupils in the region as part of a schools’ programme.
She is also trained in the Colourstrings method, an internationally recognised child-centred approach to music education from infancy, which offers youngsters the opportunity to sing, play, move and listen.
Claire told the Standard: “Since I qualified I have been talking about doing something online but I never got round to it but this has given me the push to just do it.
“At the start of lockdown I was with my sister and brother-in-law in New Zealand and my nieces, who are four and two, were watching online stuff from a woman out there who does traditional Maori songs and local folk songs.”
Seeing her nieces enjoy the videos gave the musician, who plays ukulele, guitar and fiddle, the impetus to set up her own online classes when she returned home.
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Claire said: “I’m going to be doing an online singing slot every Sunday morning and make it as interactive as possible. Things like the Wheels on the Bus, parents and carers can send suggestions of what their kids want to see on the bus so we can include them as the kids join in.
“Things like the Ukulele Song, where they can tell me what actions they want to see while they join in.
“I’m hoping that it will maybe teach parents and carers something as well and give them stuff they can do on their own with the children.
“The big thing with music is confidence.
“I don’t think people have the confidence to do it, they think they can’t do music or they can’t sing but in reality there are lots of things people can do, even if it’s just tapping your knees along to a song.”
Claire, who comes from a farming family, found her own feet in music and scooped BBC Radio Scotland’s Young Traditional Musician of the Year title in 2015.
But if the coronavirus pandemic has taught us anything, she says, it is that the creative arts have helped unite the nation in turbulent times.
She continues: “The creative subjects, music, art and PE are often the first to go when money is short but things like Joe Wicks PE classes have helped unite people and give them a focus during lockdown.
“We are seeing that it’s these things people have been turning to, and even things like the Clap for Carers on Thursday nights has brought a renewed focus to music and we are seeing people returning to using things like piping to mark that.”