Summer listening

9th July 2010 at 01:00
School's out and the bell's rung for the last time this year. TES Scotland asked eight educationalists what they will be tuning in to over the summer

KAY BARNETT, EIS president

I'll be learning how to use my iPod properly - my children will download new stuff for me. From my son Laurie, there's Ben Folds (although I've told him he sounds like a modern-day Randy Edelman - just check out that piano!); from Patrick, I'll get more Go:Audio, All Time Low and Bowling for Soup; from Katie, The Wreckers, although we'll also listen to musical theatre, especially Les Miserables which we adore.

Thank goodness I failed to persuade my husband (former EIS president Jack Barnett) to part with our vinyl, as we're now rediscovering Nick Cave and Steve Earle, as well as bands like The Wedding Present and The Popguns, plus my special record - a 1958 recording of Billy Eckstine and Sarah Vaughan singing `Passing Strangers'. "Miss Sassy", as she is known, is my favourite singer and I'll be listening to her live album, `At Mr Kelly's'.

Confession time - I've also been a fan of country singer Tim McGraw since `Set This Circus Down' and will listen to all his CDs, including his duets with wife, Faith Hill.

I'm a BBC Radio Scotland listener and, as I am into musical connections, Get It On with Bryan Burnett will be a must - I'll be texting in tracks relating to the theme of the night. Speaking of connections, I'll be reading Nick Hornby's `31Songs' as I listen to my iPod.

GRAEME BARCLAY, Assistant co-ordinator for music in South Lanarkshire and percussion instructor

I'm the drummer in a folk rock band, Whisky Kiss. We're playing the Ceilidh Tent at T in the Park this year. I'm looking forward to Muse, Biffy Clyro and - going back to my youth - Shed 7.

I've got a handful of great songs for the summer. `Stuck in a Moment' by U2, for inspiration when you need it. If it's something for all-out partying, I'd put on `You Shook Me all Night Long' by ACDC, from `Back in Black' - which is just a great album.

I have eclectic tastes and like jazz. It's not immediately obvious, but I think Count Basie is quite like ACDC - good, hard music that was something totally new at the time, and totally energetic. In terms of modern jazz, I'm also into Michel Camilo and his versions of big band classics.

My favourite piece of classical music would be `Symphonie Fantastique' by Hector Berlioz - a big orchestral work with a big, bold sound.

I like Estelle. She's innovative, her sound's a good cross of Ramp;B and dance. Beverley Knight is quite similar, a strong character who uses the best musicians.

I admire Sting, too. He had the courage to leave a career - in teaching - and follow his dream.

MAY FERRIES, Former GTCS convener

My MP3 player has only been loaded once, by a friend on my behalf, as I'm a technophobe. It was a really challenging, but enjoyable, task to choose my top 20 CDs to start with. I was a traditional listener at first, sticking with a whole CD at a time, as I had learnt to love them. However, I'm now converted to "shuffle", where I don't know what's coming next.

There's a real mix, including Ella Fitzgerald, the Beatles, Elvis, Eurythmics, Jimmy Sommerville, Abba, Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel, Cream, Madonna, Deacon Blue, Puccini, Mozart and Verdi. I love it because, as well as being my favourite music, it holds such excellent memories: I can still remember what I was wearing when dancing to some of them.

Opera is probably the growth area in my collection. I first got into it with a neighbour who was in the Scottish Opera orchestra and tried to educate my ears. It didn't really work, but I came back to it with the Three Tenors, went to see Don Giovanni designed by Peter Howson and I was hooked. I own "highlight" CDs of all the best-known operas, which last about an hour, so are ideal for the Glasgow to Edinburgh run. I've also fallen for certain singers, such as Renee Fleming, Bryn Terfel and Maria Callas, and have CDs of soprano, mezzo, baritone and tenor arias.

You'll hate this - I'm not just enjoying my music over the summer, but for the rest of my life now that I'm retired. I listen to my MP3 while I'm gardening and my opera highlights in the bath, as I don't drive to Edinburgh any more. What bliss!

MICHAEL CHROMY, Principal teacher at St Brigid's Primary, Glasgow

As the sun begins to dip and we move up to the top of the garden, the time is just right for `Twenty Reggae Classics' to drift, one by one, from the open kitchen door across the grass, through the trees and up the steps to our little deck, built specially to catch that last hour of sunshine.

Recorded when I was a primary school pupil myself - unsuspecting that 40- odd years later I'd end up back where I started - each one of these 20 songs sounds like it was written to be heard right here and right now.

It's a `Hard Road To Travel', sings Jimmy Cliff. We can feel the evening heat. `Don't Let Me Suffer', sings Gregory Isaacs. We close our eyes against the setting sun. `None Shall Escape The Judgement', sings Johnny Clarke. It's like last term all over again.

But then, as all thoughts of school begin to drift, it's The Maytals' `Pressure Drop' and Delroy Wilson's `Better Must Come'. Stretch out. Relax. Until August at least, this is Rutherglen, Jamaica. Man.

BRIAN MORRIS, Faculty head (expressive arts), Braes High, Falkirk

Every summer holiday, I try to squash in a year's worth of listening.

As it is our 10th wedding anniversary, my wife and I decided we should actually go on holiday. I recommended we head to New York for 10 days as we had never been - and remarkably, with no planning by myself (ahem!), it just so happened that Iron Maiden, supported by Dream Theater, are playing at Madison Square Garden when we are there - well, what are the chances! This will be the live event of the year and I can thoroughly recommend Maiden and DT to everyone.

When we return (and my wife returns to work), I intend to undertake my annual "headphone pilgrimage" - listening to the whole of Wagner's `Der Ring des Nibelungen', one of my favourite works of all time. It is a masterpiece of musical writing, imagery and storytelling spread over four operas, lasting 16 hours. Not for the faint-hearted, but it is worth every second.

I will also indulge my other passion, Dmitri Shostakovich. I always try to listen to at least 15 symphonies each year. By listen I, of course, mean really immerse myself in the music, no distractions, dissolving myself into the music and into the backdrop of Stalinist Russia, where so much of this incredible and tortured music was written.

Maybe for a bit of light relief, I'll have a listen to the new Cheryl Cole CD.

PETE STOLLERY, Head of music, Aberdeen University

Actually, I don't have an iPod. Probably a bit strange for a head of music in a university, but it's possibly because I spend so much of the day job listening to music that I just want to unwind by listening to the natural soundscape, rather than plugging in to more of the stuff on the way home.

I really enjoy listening to natural sounds, trying to make musical sense of them, whether it's birdsong and wind in the trees or ambient sounds in and around Union Street in Aberdeen. I think we've forgotten how to listen to sounds and we spend too much time trying to shut them out, rather than attempting to make sense of them.

Anyway, I might not have an iPod, but I have a CD player in the car. So what will I be inflicting upon my family on holiday over the summer?

Well, there's a perennial favourite of mine that comes out every year - Albert Kuvezin, a Tuvan throat singer who has the most amazing voice. His group, Yat-Kha, made an album of covers a few years ago, including Joy Division's `Love will Tear Us Apart' and Santana's `Black Magic Woman' - it has to be heard to be believed.

EMMA-JANE MCHENRY, Education officer, Scottish Ballet

At the moment, I am listening to things for work. I find that if I listen to the music at home as well, it sinks in and helps me when I teach my workshops. We've got our summer schools coming up, so I'm listening to Prokofiev's ballet of Cinderella. It's gorgeous. We're focusing on the seasons - the fairy solos representing spring, summer, autumn and winter - so I'm listening to those sections, plus the whole score.

I'm also listening to John Adams's `Fearful Symmetries' for our autumn series. Along with Scottish Ballet's other education officer, I'm planning the workshops for it. It's called Geometry + Grace and is a real soundscape.

As I walk into work, I listen to Sigur Ros on my iPod. It's an Icelandic group which plays stunningly beautiful music. I've never been to Iceland, but this music makes me think of it as a place.

JOHN STODTER, General secretary, Association of Directors of Education in Scotland

I play in a band whose founder members believe that little music of real quality was produced after the 1970s, but I like to listen to contemporary music as a central element of modern culture.

This summer I'll be listening to Pendulum, whose range of styles and moods, from synth pop to dubstep and rock, keeps me entertained and upbeat with its high energy and versatility. Other new material that demands attention includes The Acorn, Two Door Cinema and Delphic - also, although over-hyped, Biffy Clyro and Stornoway's latest releases.

I like a good female vocal, so keep returning to Joni Mitchell (every day, if possible). Was a better song than `A Case of You' ever written? Suzanne Vega has a new album (is that what you call it nowadays?), rearranging her old `Love Songs'; then there's Laura Marling and Regina Spektor, innovative and very friendly on the ear.

For pure voice quality, I love Kate Rusby but I'm not a great folk fan. Having said that, Johnny Cash's (pictured) covers of songs such as `Hurt' and `Personal Jesus' from his `American IV' collection, ooze a lifetime of experience and depth in every phrase.

But I am drawn inevitably back to the music and genres of my formative years, revisiting a lot of Stones stuff, mainly `Exile on Main St' and `Sticky Fingers'.

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