About

Neil Wood is a contemporary Scottish traditional harper, educator and researcher originally  from the Scottish village of Neilston, currently based in Glasgow. Neil began playing traditional Scottish harp at a young age under the tuition of internationally renowned traditional Scottish lever-harp player Rachel Hair until he undertook a BMus (Hons) Traditional Music (Scottish Harp) at The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, graduating in July 2020.

During his undergraduate studies Neil initially received tuition from Corrina Hewat and Heather Downie before shifting his principal study focus to that of the wire-strung clarsach under the instruction of Karen Marshalsay. Neil began to develop a hybrid playing technique using fingernails as well as the conventional finger pad across both gut and wire strung harps, combining techniques taken from both instruments. Neil now uses this hybrid technique to produce a unique sound with an emphasis on emulating the sounds, textures and ornamentation found within Scottish traditional music more widely.

Neil is currently a PhD candidate at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland being supervised by Prof Joshua Dickson, Dr Karen Marshalsay and Dr Ailie Robertson. His research work is exploring the incorporation of fingernail techniques into contemporary Scottish traditional harp practice and examining the development and origins of the newly revived and almost entirely reinvented modern Scottish traditional harp and its practice.

With a keen passion for widening access to and awareness of Scottish traditional harp, as well as Scottish traditional music as a whole, Neil is heavily involved in community music education. Neil founded, currently manages and is principal harp tutor of The Folks’ Music Project CIC – a Community Interest Company which aims to provide access to community based quality and affordable traditional music education and activities for both adults and young people in Greater Glasgow. The project delivers a number of free or low-cost group instrumental tuition classes as well as community traditional music sessions and ensembles in a number of locations across the city.

Neil is also Instrumental Music Instructor for Scottish Harp at East Renfrewshire Council.