Edinburgh Local

Placement Strikes a Chord

The University is helping locals like John Williamson gain valuable new skills.

John Williamson

John has done everything from working as a janitor, to being a barman, via working in a community centre, and there was even a memorable stint in a bingo hall which saw him in sheepskin fancy dress.

Now he can add working in a music museum to his CV, thanks to his placement with St Cecilia’s Hall through Access to Industry, an organisation which helps unemployed people gain new skills.

I grabbed the opportunity with both hands.

John Williamson

John had not filled in an application form in 20 years, but now he is studying for the SQA Local Investigations certificate and intends to complete a Museum and Galleries qualification next.

The experience has sparked an interest in musical history as he completes a project on organologist Raymond Russell; St Cecilia’s hosts a prestigious collection of 21 instruments from Russell.

It’s a fantastic collection. I admire the University getting in there and taking it on.


Anyone who bumps into John in the museum is likely to learn something new – he can point out a harpsichord that is literally fit for a queen, and tell you how the black keys on pianos were used to highlight the soft hands of upper-class ladies.

I learn something new every day. I’ve always enjoyed making people have a good time, and I want everyone to get something out of what I’m telling them.


Discover St Cecilia’s Hall or learn more about Access to Industry.