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  Independent Music in Glasgow - The Mothership

Mothership Logo

Independent music and the education system. Not something that you would immediately put together. However, in Glasgow, a project called Mothership exists. Funded by the Scottish Executive, it provides a portal for educational resources via the Mothership website and also audio engineering training for pupils and teachers. Bluesbunny tracked down the project manager, Lori Ramsay, and subjected her to our usual perceptive questioning.

So how did you get involved with the Mothership Project?
One of the core things about this project is to get education better integrated with the music industry. I'm not a teacher. I come from a professional sound engineering background. Bringing real world skills and knowledge back into the schools and colleges involved was one of the key performance indicators for this project. I was hired by the Scottish Executive to project manage the Mothership and facilitate things at a school level. At the moment we are at the pilot stage using four Glasgow secondary schools - Lourdes, Rosshall, Bellahouston and St Pauls. However, it is the planned to extend this project to all the secondary schools in Glasgow.
What are the aims of the project?
A project like this is easy to interest people in. From the point of view of the Scottish Executive, it fits into their plans for National Priorities and the outcomes follow the recommendations for what is referred to as the "Curriculum for Excellence". The pupils that are involved can be from any background as it is about talent and application. They are here to learn core skills that they will need in the marketplace. Something like this is good to be a part of from their point of view. At least, I hope so. Teachers can benefit from picking up technical skills that they can use as part of the teaching process. The radio station is only part of this massive project, the front page is open to the world, but for the pupils of Glasgow they can use the Mothership as an after school community. Teachers can also use this to enhance after school supported studies on every subject. So when the pupils are listening to the radio they can also catch up on some extra studies or chat to an online subject teacher for extra support.
What skills do the pupils learn?
They learn radio production skills and basic sound recording skills at SQA Int 2 Higher and Advanced Higher levels. They can produce their own playlists, record their own voiceovers and select their own music. That's how independent music gets into it. Money can be tight in education so we actively encourage the use of unsigned artists. There's a lot of talent out there. There's even talent amongst the pupils. Liam Cairns, for example, is a young singer songwriter that we showcased recently at a gig in the Garage (a venue in Glasgow). It is also important to note that we also teach them a bit about the business side of things. We have our own enterprise company consisting of pupils from the four pilot schools that run the commercial side of things such as getting sponsorship and advertising in the form of radio jingles for the Mothership website and selling tickets for events like the Garage gig that I previously mentioned. Co-operation between schools and developing business skills is something that Glasgow City Council is keen to promote. Using video conferencing technology, the pupils that are part of the enterprise company can meet regularly without having to travel. Using technology to solve business needs is another useful thing for the pupils to learn.
Tell us about the Garage gig. The Garage Stage
This happened on the 21st February. We got a lot of interest in it both from the pupils and from the industry. The pupils helped with the arrangements for the gig. They sold tickets. They reviewed the bands for future programmes that they will develop. They photographed the bands. The bands playing that night were Crash My Model Car, the Scuffers and Liam Cairns. Crash My Model Car are signed to MyDad Records, the Scuffers are an excellent unsigned Glasgow based band and Liam Cairns is, as previously mentioned, a young talented singer songwriter. We had major record companies like Sony sending up A&R people to check out the bands. Fortunately, we were also able to get a bit of sponsorship as well. John Ramsay of  EFX Audio Ltd  volunteered to engineer the sound. Mitel, who do the IT for Glasgow Schools, also kindly sponsored the event. It was a good night and I think that the pupils involved really enjoyed themselves. We even had students from James Watt College in Greenock along for the ride.
What have you enjoyed about the project so far?
It has been great working with the pupils. The commitment that has been shown by them has been outstanding. Recently, I have been able to use my connections in the business community here and in the USA to bring together pupils at Lourdes Secondary with a school in New York. I have to admit that I like the challenge too. Something like this is a step change to the educational side of things. Whilst the pupils do gain proper qualifications, they also learn vocational skills that should hopefully stand them in good stead should they decide to go on to college and then make a career in the industry.
So what is in it for the independent musician or band?
Part of what the Mothership is about is bringing education closer to both business and the community in general. Musicians form part of our community and I would say that unsigned bands and musicians could be a major contributor to the success of this project. There is an old saying - "Get them young and they are yours forever". This project supplies a means for these independent musicians to get exposure to a wider audience. The pupils get exposed to some excellent music. Everybody wins.

Bluesbunny would like to thank Lori Ramsay for taking the time to be interviewed and wish her every success with this admirable project.

Interview by Handsome BluesBunny

Author: Bluesbunny
Date: March 22 2007