Dougie Flower

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Dougie Flower is a man of music.  He teaches piano in School two days a week, rehearses weekly with three choirs, plays in a gigging ceilidh band and is the Musical Director for Pitlochry Festival Theatre's production of Singing in the Rain!  We not doing all that he likes to arrange and practice music in his spare time.

For two months of the year (November and December) he doesn't have any days off whatsoever yet he still manages to fit in a circuits class on Fridays before playing a show.  However, he doesn't get to experience that real Friday feeling as he teaches at Theatre School every Saturday morning.  So you can see he rarely gets much time to himself but he loves the outdoors and his best holiday was walking the Aonach Eagach ridge for the first time.  We also learn about his worst job putting up marquee rigging and his inspirational music teacher Ian Munro.

What does a typical day at work look like for you?

That depends on which day of the week it is. I teach piano in school two days
a week so those days I see 13 pupils over the course of the day for one to one lessons, take an ensemble rehearsal at lunchtime.  On non-school days I’m normally at home arranging music, or practising for whatever is coming up, then often out at a rehearsal in the evening. I have weekly rehearsals with Scottish Police and Community Choir, National Youth Choir of Scotland, Sing Forth (a choir based in Falkirk) and I teach at Stagecoach theatre school on Saturday mornings. I also have a ceilidh band so we are quite often out playing on the weekends.

Right now I’m Musical Director for Pitlochry Festival Theatre’s production of Singing in the Rain so a typical day at the moment involves trying to fit in a couple of pupils at school from 8.30am then up to Pitlochry for rehearsals at the theatre from 10. The rehearsal period lasts 3 weeks. We do either 2 or 3 session days depending on how things are going, so I could be at the theatre from 10 am to 9 pm. The first few days is very musically intensive as we start the rehearsal process by learning all the songs before going on to blocking scenes and then putting it all together.

Towards the end of the rehearsal process, I run three 3 hour band calls with Dougie Flowers- Piano manthe seven other musicians who form our amazing band. Then we have the sitzprobe, which is when the cast and band rehearse together for the first time. This is usually the single best rehearsal of the whole process – hearing everything come together musically for the first time is a brilliant experience. And, of course, now that I have seven musicians to help me, I don’t have to play quite as many notes! Week four is tech week. This starts with three 12 hour days when we go through the whole show on stage sorting out all the lighting, sound and other technical things. This involves going over and over (and over and over) small sections at a time until all the sound and lighting cues are perfect and any issues with the set, costumes or props are sorted out. We don’t have the band in for these days so I spend three lonely days by myself in the band truck. It’s pretty important to remember to take a good book and a torch on these days as there’s lots of sitting about while problems are solved. Then the band rejoin us and we have two dress rehearsals on Thursday.

What signals the start of your weekend/days off?

In November and December, I don’t normally have any days off because there is so much to do to fit all my regular commitments around the show.

But when I don’t have a show on, Friday nights start with circuits class at Rodney to take the guilt out of the rest of the evening – a tasty dinner and a bottle of something delicious. I teach on Saturday mornings so I don’t really get proper weekends but I still get the Friday night feeling. 

What might people be surprised to know about you?

When I was at school, I wanted to be a vet. As much as I love what I do now, there is a little bit of me that wishes that I had stuck in a bit more at school and followed that path.

Top of your bucket list?

I don’t have a long list of things I want to do or places I want to see, but I’d love to live abroad at some point, preferably in France or Canada. However, doing my job, that isn’t going to be possible for the foreseeable future. I get most of my work through word and mouth and the network of contacts I have built up over the years. It would be really hard to start afresh somewhere new. My girlfriend also runs a business in Perth so I think we’ll be settled here for a while.

Worst job you’ve ever had?

I did one summer as a student working as a marquee rigger. They worked us a minimum of 12 hours per day, every day. And it was all lifting and carrying so absolutely exhausting. By the end of the first week, my hands and forearms were so sore, I couldn’t make a fist with either hand. I guess it taught me a few things about grafting though!

When I left uni I worked for five years at SSE doing marketing. It was a good job, but towards the end, I was so bored working 9 to 5 in an office. That’s when I realised I had to get back into music. I left that secure job in 2011 for a 7-week contract at Dundee Rep playing for their Christmas production of Cinderella. My boss at the time said it was the first time he’d ever lost a member of staff to panto! Best decision I ever made, and I’ve never been out of work since.

Who or what inspires you?

Professionally, I was inspired to do what I do now by two people:  Ian Munro, my music teacher from school who retired this year, and Neil Metcalfe who was my boss when I did a gap year in the music department at Rannoch School. That was in the year 2000 and was the first time I lived in Perthshire. It was an amazing year, working in an amazing place.

In day to day life, I get inspired by anything exceptional. It can be going to hear an amazing musician or something completely unrelated to my work. As daft as it sounds, I was in my friend's new bathroom the other day and the found myself staring at the finish on the joinery work. I find anything done to the highest standard with exceptional skill inspires me to try to be better at what I do.

Tell us about the weekend you’d love to live again?

One of the downsides of being self-employed is never really getting away from work. So I like simple weekends away that let me get away from  I was in danger of doing something I didn’t enjoy or care about for the next 40 years.everything. Last October we went up to Glen Coe and walked the Aonach Eagach ridge for the first time. It’s a pretty epic walk.  Another favourite weekend was staying at Glenfinnan House Hotel. We were able to combine two of our favourite things when we climbed Ben Nevis for the first time, followed by an amazing dinner at the hotel. We even got a trip along Loch Shiel after dinner on a friends boat, just as the sun was setting. When we got our first dog just over a year ago, it seemed appropriate to call him Nevis.

What’s the best thing about your job?

Doing something I enjoy for a living. When I worked in the office, it dawned on me that I was in danger of doing something I didn’t enjoy or care about for the next 40 years. I don’t feel like that now.

What’s in the perfect day off breakfast?

French toast with bacon and maple syrup is a favourite. Or, if we’re trying to be good, we’ll pop out to Reids for a scoffee (scone and coffee).

Complete this sentence; The best things in life are….



Check out the fruits of Dougie's musical labour from the 1st of December in Pitlochry Festival Theatres Production of Singing in the Rain. 

More details here

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