Iain Mckenzie, Australia (Director of Music), accordion
Born in Bannockburn, Scotland, I have been entertaining audiences with the accordian from an early age and have developed my own exciting and versatile style.
Brought up in the tradition of Scottish music and dance gave me the opportunity to perform in both Scotland and internationally. Influenced by other traditional musical styles widened my experience and repertoire.
I have also composed a number of traditional Scottish dance tunes, several of which have been recorded.
What I love about playing for dancing is the chemistry between the musicians and the dancers. You lead into a tune that gets the dancers excited, and straight away the musicians respond. That energy is unique.
After the classes and socials are over, I have been known to be ‘persuaded’ to join others in the party room to continue the evening….!
I have a passion for travel and a taste for other cultures. I have travelled around Europe, South America, Africa, Asia and spent several years living in both Spain and Greece.
Anne-Marie Forsyth, New Zealand, fiddle
Classically trained on the viola, I fell in love with the sound of Scottish music as soon as I took up SCD, ‘way back’ in 1999. In the 24 years since, I have been on a mission to learn as much about traditional Scottish fiddle as possible; happily this has involved travel to Scotland and several other countries, where I have been privileged to meet and learn from some of the greats.
Back in New Zealand I try my best to pass on what I have learned to others, as well as connect the music to dance through playing in several bands for SCD and ceilidh dancing. In my ‘spare’ time, I still play the viola.
Ian Muir, England, accordion
[Ian and Judith live in a village in West Berkshire, about an hour’s drive due west of London, UK. They both started playing for country dancing at an early age.]
I started playing the accordion at school when I was 12 and was playing for dances with my own band at the age of 14. Having played with McBain’s Band for a number of years, in 1986 I formed my own band – the Craigellachie Scottish Dance Band. Since its inception the band has been well received both in the UK and abroad. My philosophy for the band has always been that playing must be fun, that the repertoire used for dancing must be as good to listen to as it is to dance to, and that the future of the music lies in encouraging new and young players.
I am a keen composer and many of my compositions have been published and recorded – several having been adopted as originals for dances.
As a solo musician, I play regularly for classes and day schools. I retired as the RSCDS Music Director in November 2021, having served six years in the post.
In my spare time I am a keen beekeeper and a budding pastel artist.
Judith Muir, England, accordion, piano
I started playing piano in a family band in my teens and, after briefly joining the Craigellachie Scottish Dance Band in the late 1980s, I left and co-formed Sound Company – a three-piece Scottish Dance Band based in the south of England. Following Sound Company’s retirement in 2003, I re-joined Craigellachie.
I have considerable experience playing for accordion classes: I am the resident musician at the BHS Border Branch Advanced Class, have played for numerous RSCDS day and weekend schools, as well as for several Teaching Certificate Courses in and around the London area, at St Andrews and in Russia. In my spare time I am involved in barn owl conservation, volunteer on the “Rose of Hungerford” canal boat, and enjoys card and candle-making.
Emma Nixon, Australia, fiddle
I am a performer, teacher, composer and researcher, combining my passion for music, culture, language and learning in each of these fields. Winner of three Golden Fiddle Awards in both teaching and playing categories, I am very active in the Australian fiddle scene. My powerful and passionate performances of traditional and contemporary Scottish music have enchanted audiences across Australia and around the world.
My playing brings together the classical and traditional aspects of fiddling, drawing on the strengths of both, while remaining true to the soul of the music itself.
I perform and collaborate with many musicians and bands, I compose and arrange music for professional and student musicians, and have developed a music publishing business, Ceilidh House Publishing, featuring my original works and arrangements for school and community ensembles.
Sharlene Penman, New Zealand, keyboard
It gives me great pleasure to be playing at Winter School. My musical journey has been enhanced by the addition to my repertoire of playing for Scottish Country Dancing.
Past musical exploits have been many and varied, over 50 years teaching piano, school music teaching, playing for ballet classes, and accompanying examinations of various instruments and singers, music examiner, and mentor to aspiring young and not so young soloists and ensemble players.
I dance and play at 3 SCD clubs in Christchurch and seek out other clubs to dance at when I am travelling. I have played for SCD in Europe, North America, Australia and New Zealand for the past 24 years as part of many musician groupings, including Balmoral Band, Wild Heather SCD Band, Glenfiddle, Strings Attached, Saltire Band, Kiwi Kilties, and Flying Kiwis et al. I so enjoy playing with all these band members.
I have 2 wonderful married sons, 2 beautiful daughters-in-law and one gorgeous granddaughter all of whom are musicians, both amateur and professional.
My greatest joy as a musician is to see the satisfied and happy faces of dancers at the end of a dance, which tells me they have enjoyed both their dancing and the music which is so inherently an integral part of the genre.