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At the heart of English folk

Mixed Instruments

The Saturday Folk Music Workshops mixed instrument classes cater for beginners to advanced players. Folk Band Level 1-2 provides an opportunity for beginners to learn and develop the skills required to play in an ensemble and arrange folk songs. Stepping Stones to Sessions Level 3-4 gives more advanced players the chance to gain the skills and confidence to join in with a session.


Mixed instrument classes

Folk Band Level 1-2 (Beginners)
This course is about acquiring the skills to play in an ensemble - listening, responding, rhythm and timing. Students will move from simple group exercises to basic part-playing, developing their ear and confidence. Clapping games and musical exercises will be utilised in order to develop ensemble skills and rhythm, with progression to one note exercises on instruments. In the class students will take turns playing, develop timing, learn rhythms and build grooves based on folk rhythms. Throughout the term, more notes and chords will be incorporated into the work. As the year develops, students will learn phrases and use tune and chord patterns learnt in class.

Please note that the Folk Band workshops will not be running this term, spring 2017.

Stepping Stones to Sessions Level 3-4 (Improvers / Intermediate)
This course is the gateway that will give you the skills, confidence, repertoire and etiquette to join in with traditional music sessions around the world!  We will explore many of the key issues that challenge would-be session players; how to recognise the structure of a tune played at speed, how to find the key, how to decode the rhythm, methods for picking out key phrases, and how to keep listening in order to flesh out these phrases into complete tunes.  We will look at techniques for increasing your playing speed (without rushing!), 100 ways of jamming along and how to hear chords from a melody, or fit in with other chord players.  We'll look at how to start tunes, which tunes might be good ones to start, and how to join in with tunes that are already in full swing. The classes will provide space to try all the skills out, make mistakes, improve and try again! By the end of the year, students will have the skills and confidence to be able to join in with and start tunes in a traditional pub music session.


Pre-entry level requirements

Folk Band Level 1-2
No previous experience of playing folk music, in an ensemble or by ear required. Students will need to have basic skills on their instrument and will need to know note names and how to find them, the ability to confidentally play D, G and A scales, and G, D, C, A, F, Em, Am, Bm, Dm chords without tab (if relevant to your instrument).

Stepping Stones to Sessions Level 3-4
For students who can play by ear or are technically competent players keen to learn to play by ear. You will know your way around the instrument, know some folk tunes, but not yet have the skills or confidence to join in with public sessions.


Who leads the course?

Folk Band Level 1-2 is taught by Ed Hicks. Stepping Stones to Sessions Level 3-4 is taught by Laurel Swift.

Ed Hicks
Ed Hicks is one of the leading banjo players in the UK and a passionate advocate for people learning folk and traditional music.  In a career spanning over ten years Ed Hicks played has banjo on a Gold Record, on a Mercury Award nominated album, on Love Cats with Rob Smith of the Cure, on the Voice UK, the Voice Germany and the Voice Kids, with an award wining theatre companies (Cirque de Legume, Ramshacklicious, The Honk Project, Cockney Awkestra), on a full UK tour with electro pop pioneer Thomas Dolby and on 'Always Look on the Bright Side of Life' with Python Eric Idle.  

Ed has played all over the UK and Europe at many prestigious venues including Glastonbury Festival, Shakespeare’s Globe, the National Theatre, Rock am Ring (Germany), The Victoria and Albert Museum and Shepherd Bush Empire.  Ed Hicks was even booked to play the banjo at Marcus Mumford’s (Mumford and Sons) Wedding to Carey Mulligan and was the banjo player the BBC phoned to interview when Earl Scruggs died. Ed Hicks is a prolific and passionate teacher of the banjo.

Laurel Swift
Laurel is a fiddle player, a dancer and an inspiring instigator of creative new projects and performances rooted in the folk arts. She plays fiddle and viola in dynamic fiddle-singing duo with Ben Moss, double bass with Gadarene, a high-energy band blending obscure 18th century manuscript tunes with modern beats, and fiddle with irresistible ceilidh-dance groovers, The Gloworms.  Laurel has choreographed and devised national touring dance productions for Morris Offspring, co-created and performed Under Her Skin with Debs Newbold, advised theatre & film companies on using folk music and dance material.  She is in demand to perform and teach at festivals in the UK and America, founded Shooting Roots, which develops youth folk arts projects, and teaches and contributes to education projects in London and nationally.


How can I take part?

Bookings are now closed

For any queries, please contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. | 020 7241 8953


Terms and Conditions

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More Information

Click here for more information on individual class times, dates and further info.