Castle Toward

Castle Toward – Yesterday

Yesterday, I was delivering a training session in Dunoon, and I took the opportunity to visit an old stomping ground – Castle Toward. For those who are possibly unaware, Castle Toward was a residential centre where many thousands of young people, myself included, spent many happy times learning and teaching music. The building itself is a magnificent old place and it was not unusual for pupils to be in tears when they left there for the last time before they left school.

In recent years, however, it has stopped being used as a residential centre, and had fallen into a state of disrepair, as a local community group tried to buy it from the council, who disagreed with the sale, and a lengthy legal battle ensued.

I went along yesterday to see if I would be allowed to see the place, and lo and behold, I simply walked up the drive, and there the old girl stood. Not only was the building still there, but there were people working in and around it. On speaking to a friendly workman, I discovered that it has been sold to a local businessman with the view to turning it into a wedding and function venue. With that information, as I looked around I could see that the terrace has had new concrete finials installed, there is a state-of-the-art security system in place with cameras everywhere, and the rooms inside are in the process of upgrading to modern standards, by all accounts.

I posted a picture of the castle on facebook, with the caption saying that I’m not sure what type of emoji to use. I’m happy that the castle is going to be used again, but not happy that it is no longer going to be a residential centre that many future generations of children can benefit from, in the way that many past generations have.

So I suppose the emoji should be the one with the straight mouth – neither happy nor sad.


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New Website

I’ve decided (again!) to redo my online presence, and bring everything into a single website – this one, to be exact!

Over the years, I have had various sites, under various names – LoNoteMusic, Martin-Thomson, Music Made Easy, Scottish Music Services etc. That just got confusing for everyone, including me. So, I have made the decision to bring everything under a single site, and only have 2 domain names pointing at it – and That way, if you search for me, you’ll find me.

I WILL be keeping it updated. I haven’t been good at that in the past, but call it a mid-year resolution – I’m doing it!

I may be offering a sales service as time goes on, but only for very occasional things. I have decided that the sales side of what I do is too time-consuming and just plain awkward, and so I will be removing the option of reselling other companies software. I may offer some of my own stuff for sale (services, compositions etc), and I will be keeping in touch with the big companies, so if you need something, let me know and I’ll see what I can do. The good thing about that is that because I’m not focusing on sales, I’m not that fussed about making big profits, so my prices should be competitive!

So, enjoy the site, and keep in touch, either via my blog, or via the Contact  page. I’m always delighted to hear from you!

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First blog of 2017

Well, here we are – 2017 already! In fact, we’re a fair way through the first month of 2017, and this is the first chance I’ve had to update the blog.

I don’t want this to become a simple list of everything I’m up to, but I do need to mention what is going on in my life during January. In the second half of last year, I applied for and won a tender to provide music training in Aberdeenshire Primary Schools using the fabulous Charanga resource ( if you’re interested, by the way!). The plan was to deliver this on and off over the first three months of the year, but when I contacted the schools to set up the dates, they pretty much all went for January. This means, of course, that I am now spending Mon – Wed in Aberdeenshire, and Thu-Fri teaching in Bearsden for the full month of January. It’s great fun doing the actual work, working in schools with the heady role of 18 pupils, but it does entail a 3-hour drive every Monday morning, and every Wednesday evening. So far the weather has been kind, and it looks like it will be this week too, but that area is notorious for school closures due to snow in January, so I’m keeping my fingers well and truly crossed.

So that’s my diary taken care of, let me tell you about the fevered thoughts going on in my wee brain.

Language. Brilliant isn’t it? I was in a shop in rural Aberdeenshire last week, and as I left, without thinking I said to the lady behind the counter “See ya later”. Back in the car, I thought – I’ll probably never see that lady again, but I just quite happily promised to encounter her again at some indeterminate time in the future. Now I know that it is just a throwaway figure of speech, but I got to thinking that we use a lot of these in our everyday use of the mother tongue. We use language figuratively all the time, saying things that we would never mean literally, but they convey exactly how we are feeling about something. “I could kill for a fish supper” does not mean that I would in fact commit murder, but it does convey how much I desire some fried seafood and vegetables. “It’s pouring down” – Is it really, or is it actually lots of droplets, as opposed to a steady stream of water? Even the standard “Och, that’s a lot of rubbish”, more often than not is descriptive rather than literal. Our language is full of these types of descriptive terms – I’m sure there is a proper name for them, but what it is beats me (It doesn’t actually beat me around the head, you understand, it’s just another example…).

So, as I drive up the A9 tomorrow, I have no idea what thoughts will enter my head. I have some time to kill in the hotel tomorrow evening, so you may get to hear them, if they’re of any interest.

See ya later…. 🙂


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Decline in Standards

I know, I know – two posts in two days, but this has been on my mind for a while now…

I am getting really rather frustrated at the decline in standards as regards the written word. I don’t only mean online, although that is by far the biggest culprit. I also am seeing more and more typos, bad grammar and just plain bad English in all sorts of places in the real world too.
I suppose I could be called a Grammar Nazi, in that I much prefer to see the language used properly. There are a few favourites(!) that always get my hackles up – “Loose” does not mean “unable to find”,”off” means “not on”, not “pertaining to”,  and of course the age-old “They’re, There, Their” conundrum, but I am seeing more and more new ones appearing on the scene recently.

For example, I have seen a few examples recently of people writing something along the lines of “he told me how good of a job I was doing”. The word “of” is completely redundant here, but it has appeared in print a number of times recently. In the real world, in things like newspapers. You know, the things written by people whose JOB it is to use the language properly?
Another one I have an issue with is something I have only very recently come across, mainly due to being on holiday and therefore able to access the delight that is daytime television, a genre that appears to be populated by a large number of ill-educated people from the UK and the USA, mainly in some sort of TV courtroom, or having an aggressive presenter shouting at them for having loose morals or for their poor parenting skills. Anyway, I have heard a number of these people say that they “axed” someone something, when they really mean “asked”. I mean, that is even harder to say, so you can’t call that laziness!

The last one I am seeing more and more recently, is the use of an apostrophe to try to indicate a plural. In the run up to Christmas, I saw honestly saw a sign in a supermarket advertising “50% of Brussel Sprout’s”. And this wasn’t a hastily hand-written sign, it was a printed  piece of cardboard, which probably meant that it had been proof-read!

Is it me???


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Where have I been??!?

It has been a while since my last blog post, and for that I apologise. But then again, no I don’t!

It’s been a while, because I have been insanely busy. So much so, that when I get a moment to relax, the last thing I want to do is to sit down and write a blog post! (Sorry about that…)

So, what have I been up to? Well, I was given the chance to cover a colleagues absence until a permanent replacement was appointed. I decided to take the opportunity, even though it meant working full-time for 5 weeks. Now, when I say full-time, what I mean is TEACHING full-time, while still covering everything else I usually do in my 5 non-teaching days per week. I have to say – it damn near killed me! It’s a long time since I taught in schools every day from Monday to Friday, and it re-confirmed my belief that I really don’t want to go back to doing it full-time. Which makes the IT side of my life even more important.

And that is a good thing, because in the past 4 months or so, I have never been busier. I’ve had trips all over Scotland, from Aberdeen to the borders, plus a very pleasant trip to Sheffield. I’ve worked with a number of hats on, including Charanga, Finale, Cubase, Sibelius, plus of course my own LoNoteMusic fedora. All good, and with no sign of it slowing down in the new year, that can only be a good thing too! I have also been speaking to a training venue in Helensburgh about providing Music Technology and iPad training for them, so watch this space in 2017 for more news on that!

Musically, it’s been an interesting term. The fantastic pupils of East Dunbartonshire continue to surprise and delight me, and the Christmas Concerts with the EDC Concert Band and at Bearsden Academy were fantastic events at which the pupils excelled themselves and were a true credit to everyone who knows them.
But I suppose the big news musically, is that I am no longer the conductor of the YMCA Glasgow Wind Orchestra. That is because that ensemble no longer exists. We have now extracated ourselves from the YMCA/YPeople organisation and are “going it alone” under our new name – the City of Glasgow Wind Orchestra (CoGWO). We had our inaugural concert at Christmas, which went very well, and importantly, we had some excellent conversations with members of the audience which will have a very positive impact on us as we move into 2017.

So that’s you up to date with why I have been so quiet on here in the past few months. What’s coming up in 2017? Well, I will be spending a major part of January up in Aberdeenshire doing a YMI project, there’s a string possibility of some more AVID work on the horizon, plus of course teaching away (for 2 days only!) in EDC, and thoroughly enjoying conducting the fabulous CoGWO!

My New Year resolution is to be more active on here and on Twitter (1 post per day is the target on there, maybe one per week on here). Hopefully then, I will be able to share some thoughts about stuff, rather than simply bring you up to date with my various comings and goings!!

Tara for now!!


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