Bobby Brown Music Apprenticeship at the 2018 TAC Summer School 

July 29 - August 5

University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN, USA


Brown imageBackground

Bobby Brown (1941-2011) devoted his life to the playing, researching, recording, and teaching of Scottish Dance Music. As an individual performer, a member of two Scottish Country Dance Bands, the Musical Director of the internationally renowned fiddle troupe The Cape Breton Symphony, and the leader of The Scottish Accent, Bobby Brown was a leading proponent of Scottish Country Dance music and traditional Scottish music in Canada, the United States, Britain, and Europe for over fifty years.

Scope and Purpose

Understanding that cultural preservation is dependent upon the devoted cultivation and transition of knowledge, Bobby Brown encouraged young musicians to learn and preserve the songs and tunes of the Scottish tradition. At workshops and classes, Bobby set aside his performer responsibilities to become an engaging teacher and eagerly instructed participants in the subtle idiomatic nuances of traditional Scottish music. He loved playing, and Scottish music was in his soul.

In his memory, the annual Bobby Brown Music Apprenticeship was initiated in 2015 to provide funding towards the cost for tuition, meals, and accommodation for one musician to attend one of the following:
• A music internship at TAC Summer School
• A music course at TAC Summer School
• A music course at a TAC-recognized Scottish Country Dance event

2017 Bobby Brown Apprentice

M MatthewsMartha Matthews

Martha Matthews developed a love of Scottish music and dancing while attending Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania in the 1980s. She then continued to dance whenever possible for the next 30+ years, while living in the Northeastern U.S. and in California. Martha is originally from Los Angeles, where she now lives with her wife Yolanda and their daughter Ann. She is an attorney and works at a nonprofit that provides free legal services to low-income youth and families.

Martha studied violin as a child, and played in youth orchestras. She had not played much as an adult until she realized that she could learn to play traditional Scottish fiddle music. Martha has been a member of the Scottish Fiddlers of Los Angeles for three years, and she has studied with Jan Tappan locally and with Roxanna Sabir of the Sabir Sisters fiddle school in Victoria (by Skype). Martha is very grateful to her SCD teachers Anthea and Doug MacDonald and all the members of the RSCDS San Gabriel Valley Branch, for allowing her to learn by playing for the weekly class.

Martha’s aspiration is to work with other local musicians to start a revival of live music for SCD classes and social dances in the Los Angeles area.

Previous Bobby Brown Apprentices

2017  Martha Matthews, Los Angeles, CA, US

2016  Heather Cameron, Plymouth, Nova Scotia, Canada
2015  Mary Ross, Victoria, BC, Canada

The Music Director for the 2018 TAC Summer School will work with one pre-selected lead player /melody instrument (fiddle, accordion, keyboard) on a daily basis in the capacity of private tutor/coach. By the conclusion of the week, the candidate will have all the necessary information and skills to confidently and competently play for a class and future dances. This program could potentially be developed to incorporate additional summer school musicians working in the same manner with piano, bass, drums, or other instruments.

The apprentice program will include:

  • Selection of approved and appropriate music for dances
  • Tempos
  • Opening & Closing Chords (Bow & Curtsey)
  • Grace notes & other idiomatic choices
  • Phrasing, Dynamics, Interpretation
  • Assembling sets/ musical research
  • Guiding & assisting the candidate through classes
  • Working with teachers
  • Afternoon discussions and preparation for following day
  • Involving and preparing candidate for participation in evening socials where possible

Eligibility Criteria:
Provided a suitable applicant meets all the following criteria, one award will be made for 2017
• The musician must have demonstrated a genuine interest in Scottish music, preferably with some experience playing Scottish Country Dance Music
• The musician must have a desire to improve his or her musical skills
• The musician must display an appropriate level of technical proficiency on his/her instrument, with the ability to improve musical skills
• The musician must have the passion and commitment to continue to play for and promote the music for Scottish Country Dancing


Application Process:
Next deadline April 15, 2018.

A musician may apply for the 2018 Bobby Brown Music Apprenticeship by submitting:

• the completed application form (download Music Application Form)
• a letter of application which addresses each of the above eligibility criteria
• a recording of three tunes; at least two of the tunes should be in the Scottish idiom
• a letter of reference from a Scottish Country Dance teacher, RSCDS Branch, or music teacher

Please submit the application for the 2018 Bobby Brown Music Apprenticeship by email to Ellen Sears, the Director of TAC Summer Events 2018, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., by  April 15, 2018.
Please include the applicant's surname and the phrase 2018 Music Intern in the email subject line and in the file names of attachments.


Selection Process:

• Applications for the 2018 Bobby Brown Music Apprenticeship received by the deadline will be reviewed by a committee of the Teachers' Association (Canada) including, but not limited to: TAC Chair, TAC Treasurer, TAC Summer Events Director, and TAC Summer School Music Director.
• The award will be presented to the recipient in the form of a pre-paid scholarship (to a maximum of the cost of the full-week resident registration fee, including meals and accommodation, dependent on the value of funds available)
• A recipient can only be awarded the scholarship once
• Following the 2018 TAC Summer School, the recipient will forward a report on his/her experience to the Teachers' Association (Canada) for publication in the next issue of TACTalk

Direct any queries to the Director of Summer School, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.