Music school at former dentists in Galashiels fills a cultural hole

A music school established at a former dental surgery in Galashiels is filling a hole in the town’s cultural life.

Megan McKenna will help officially launch the Borders School of Music with a show at MacArts.
Megan McKenna will help officially launch the Borders School of Music with a show at MacArts.

A grand opening of Border School of Music is to be staged at its 6 Roxburgh Street premises on Monday, July 25, culminating in a free musical concert with performances from tutors, students and guests.

The school was the brainchild of Galashiels-born Matt Bramhall, a session musician in London for a decade.

It was borne out of a passion for music at the outset of the Covid-19 pandemic when Matt found himself with a lot of time on his hands.

Borders School of Music in Galashiels' Roxburgh Street.

He spent the first lockdown converting the former Roxburgh Dental Practice, which had moved to a new premises at Ladhope Vale at the end of 2019.

There have been many setbacks along the way but now all the old treatment rooms have been converted into purpose-built teaching studios and the school has enrolled 250 students and nine tutors teaching drums, bass, guitar, ukulele, piano, singing, clarinet and saxophone.

Matt said: “With the cancellations of events during the pandemic I turned my hand to education and opened the school in my old hometown.

“We initially started online and have experienced quite a turbulent two years with different lockdowns but through this we have seen a rapid growth with students continuing to enrol with us.

Borders School of Music.

“A further setback at the start of this year came with a dry rot outbreak in the building, which meant having to close two of our teaching rooms for extensive works to take place. These works have now been completed and with the restrictions of the pandemic behind us, and the school fully operational, we decided to finally have an open day.”

As part of the day country singer and TV celebrity Megan McKenna is performing at the town’s Mac Arts and will formally open the school afterwards.

Students are also to perform at the Mac Arts and in the evening some top session musicians and singers from London will perform at an event hosted by former Drifters singer Patrick Alan.

Matt, who has played on sessions with Rita Ora, Sheridan Smith and the Backstreet Boys amongst others, added: “It’s been great to be part of a musical journey with our students, with ages ranging from four to retirement age. We look forward to giving them a real experience of what it is to be a musician on our open day and we’re super-excited to have them coming to play on stage with the tutors and other professional musicians.”