Eighteen string players join Laurel Swift for a creative folk music workshop

Folk musician Laurel Swift leads a workshop with Southampton's young string players

Folk musician Laurel Swift leads a workshop with Southampton's young string players

On Sunday 17 June, young musicians from Southampton Music Hub’s string ensembles and beyond were invited to take part in a day-long folk music workshop lead by traditional musician and dancer, Laurel Swift.

The participants had the choice of starting with a slow, melancholic Andro (French dance tune) or an upbeat English Jig: they chose the former! All of the music, harmonies and chords were taught by ear. Once the children had a firm grasp of the tune, as well as various ways to harmonise it, they split into groups to develop their own arrangement ideas using the techniques they had learnt.

Following a round of performances and a short lunch break, they learnt a ‘lumpy’ English Jig called “The Rogues March” which was then arranged for the group as a whole, with each musician bringing their own ideas to the performance.

The day ended with an informal performance to friends and family.

Maya, Vita and Zoey, members of Elgar/SYS said:
“The tunes were really fun. We really liked playing in small groups because we got to meet new people and experiment with new ideas and ways of playing our instruments.We learnt the importance of feeling the pulse, especially in dance music. We also really enjoyed playing by ear and not needing to use music.The feedback from peers was really useful, and Laurel was an amazing teacher.”

Chris Nichols, Director of Acorn Strings said:
“It was really great to see all of the participants working so creatively when developing their arrangements. Every performance was unique and everyone showed a different side to their playing. The day was a wonderful introduction to traditional folk music, and an experience I hope the children take into their own music making. Thank you to Laurel for making the day such a success.”

For more about Laurel Swift visit her website.

For further folk music resources visit the English Folk Dance and Song Society website.