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20 Years of Fischy Music

20 Years of Fischy Music

Monday September 17

Jackie Macadam learns about the impact of the well-known Christian music charity


Too young, too old, too weird, too slow,
Everybody’s saying,
Too square, too small, too posh, too tall
Everybody’s saying,
Who do you listen to, cos after all I’m telling you
You are a star just the way you are
You are a star just the way you are

Just reading that, many of you will be singing the catchy tune in your head and the words of that song – You Are A Star – sums up the ethos of Fischy Music, celebrating 20 years as a charity this year.

An entire generation of children have grown up listening to Fischy’s songs, and taking on board their message of confidence, acceptance and love of others and yourself.

One of them is Margaret McLarty, and now she’s grown up to be one of the charity’s event leaders.

“I grew up in Glasgow where my dad was minister in Blackhill Provanmill. I remember him using Fischy Music songs before it was even a ‘thing’.”

Fischy was created by Stephen after his wife died and he found that listening to, writing and singing songs helped him and his family. It was born in Stephen’s local church, but as it grew as a charity it developed songs for both faith and school settings.

Stephen is still the Creative Director of Fischy Music and with Suzanne Butler, his long-time musical collaborator, and a team of musicians they have taken their music to churches, youth groups, schools and children’s events all over Britain.

At the moment, Stephen, Suzanne, Margaret and Christy Ringrose make up the Fischy events team, but there’s a back room, administrative team and a board of directors, managing their subscription website, event bookings and other enquiries and keeping the charity running. A group of other talented musicians are also called upon for band gigs and recording.

“Most of our events work is in primary schools where we lead song-based workshops and concerts,” says Margaret. “We also work in churches, with youth groups and lead training events for adults.

“There are over 80 Fischy songs now, with topics on everything from loss and grief, mental heath, bullying and self-esteem to friendship and celebration. We can do a Feeling Good assembly or focus on a more specific topic like health week. Churches will often sponsor us to work in their local school as a gift or to help build a relationship.

“I love my job. The part I look forward to most is leading our five week songwriting projects, where we work with a class or group to write, record and perform a song. It’s all their lyrics, melody and vision and there’s such a sense of pride at the end from everyone.

“There are so many ‘eureka’ moments, when a child makes a breakthrough or says something so incredibly profound.

“Or when a class, school or church totally ‘own’ a Fischy song and there’s a goosebumps moment!

“At one school recently P7’s favourite song was You are a Star, so during the last chorus we got the rest of the school to sing it to them and then just P7 to sing it to the rest of the school. I could hardly sing the next bit with the lump in my throat! They left the church singing and dancing in a huge line and I really hope there was someone walking by to see this huge burst of colourful energy leaving the church!

“I remember writing a song with a P5 class in Fife. It was a great class, but there was one boy who really struggled to be in the group and control his emotions and reactions.

“He went on this huge journey from week one, where he sat on the computer at the back of the class, to week three when he ran to front saying, ‘here’s the next verse’, to week four when he was in incontrollable tears at the start and then by the end had recorded the whole song solo.

“In week five he greeted us with a huge hug, said how happy the singing made him and that his mum would be proud of him. During the concert he stood at the front of stage with the rest of the class singing and performing every song, including the one they’d written, with every fibre of his being.

“Getting and watching all generations singing and dancing together at the big gigs, completely free and uninhibited is also amazing.”


Fischy Music celebrate their 20th anniversary with a concert at the Assembly Rooms, Edinburgh on Saturday October 6. Tickets available on the Fischy website.

The full version of this feature appeared in September’s Life and Work. Download or subscribe here.