Beating The Lockdown Blues

Author and educator Ewan McVicar has been lightening his lockdown in Cromarty by learning to record videos of his songs for Feis Rois’s YouTube channel for home schooling kids, and by creating new online Treasure Hunts about Scottish songs with virtual gold and silver coins to be won.

“When Feis Rois kindly asked me to contribute old and new Scots songs to their channel, I ordered a fancy new videocam, then found I had to wait weary days for it to be sent from the USA. One of the first songs I recorded was Dingwall Regatta, an action song about when I was wee and went down to the shore to watch the yachts racing down the Firth to Cromarty, and hear the sound of the starting gun. Another video is about how to play a tune on a pen – or even on a toothbrush!”

Ewan has written many songs for and with school classes, and his well-stuffed Scots Sangs Fur Schools website got over 10,000 hits in January. With time on his hands he has added new sections on Gaelic Song and on Instruments and Tunes, and Power Point presentations on writing songs and poems in Scots. The latter is the work of Ewan’s Ceilidhmakers colleague, songwriter and former teacher, Andy Shanks of Johnshaven. The creator and organiser of Ceilidhmakers is the very well-known traditional singer and community song group leader, Christine Kydd, who is based in Kirriemuir. Christine, Ewan and Andy have made new songs in dozens of schools around Scotland. Now they plan and develop their joint work online through Zoom meetings.

“My Great Scots Treasure Hunt activity has been a joyful experience with many school classes, in which teams work to find out about Scots songs, tunes and performers. They win treasure of beads, polished stones and obsolete coins. I wondered if I could replicate the idea as an online quiz – and it worked. Pupils can hear and learn about songs and tunes, find out answers, score themselves on how many coins they have won, and add their names to the Honour Wall.”

There are now three online Treasure Hunts with local songs and tunes – Highland, Fun and Aberdeenshire. Ewan plans to add more Hunts to cover other topics and parts of Scotland.