Folkworks Summer School

The Folkworks Summer Schools are internationally renowned for the high quality of their teaching and the great fun to be had.

The summer schools are great fun and sociable with lots of sessions, sing-a-rounds, and dances, whilst also providing hours of wonderful tuition in a nurturing and inclusive environment.

For young people, there are two summer schools (each held in Durham),  each tailored to the needs of each age group. The Folkworks Youth Summer School, for ages 14+, runs from Monday, 24 July to Saturday, 29 July. Its director is ex-Cream Tees tutor Ian Stephenson. The Folkworks Junior Summer School, for ages 9–13, runs from Wednesday, 26 July to Saturday, 29 July. Its director is Ruth Ball, and the tutors include Grace Smith, another former Cream Tees Folk Degree tutor.

M@HoT might be able to offer some financial support for Cream Tees band members who are interested in attending one of the schools. Please contact Neil Diment for more information.

You can find details about the Folkworks summer schools from The Sage’s (Gateshead) website:
Folkworks Youth Summer School 2018

Folkworks Junior Summer School 2018


Here is a report from the Folkworks Summer School of 2015:

A report by Heather McLachlan, Cream Tees English concertina player

During the summer holidays, I had the amazing opportunity to take part in the annual Folkworks summer school, staying at Durham University. I found out about the summer school from Ian Stephenson, who was our tutor at Cream Tees and who also happened to be the co-director of Folkworks 2015.

Folkworks is a summer school set up so children and adults all across the country playing a variety of instruments are able to get together and learn about folk music while having an amazing time. Even though it says it is summer school, it isn’t anything like school, it is much more chilled and relaxed you get to meet many new people as well as learn new things.

There are three Summer Schools—Junior, Youth, and Adult—and as I am 14, I was put into the Youth group. I play the English concertina and was placed in the mixed instrument group. I was very lucky as Simon Thoumire, the ensemble group tutor, was also an English concertina player and so I enjoyed a few individual sessions where I learnt scales and techniques.

Heather McLachlan at Folkworks 2015

Heather McLachlan plays her English concertina at Folkworks 2015.

There was so much to learn and do at the summer school, there were choir and song writing sessions, ensemble and individual interest sessions as well as ceilidh music, and clog and rapper dancing. There was also chance to perform and observe.

Ceilidh dancing at Folkworks 2015

At Folkworks 2015, we learnt ceilidh dances as well as the music.

There were so many amazing opportunities available during the week. The daytime (9AM—6PM) was spent in lessons, with ensemble workshops, main interest workshops and optional activities. From 7PM—9PM we had the chance to attend various concerts- there was a tutors’ concert, a ceilidh where you had to dance and play, the “Over to You” student concert and the option to attend two concerts in Durham; the “Tea for Two” and the “Woman of Rebellion.” For those still awake at the end of the concerts until midnight, there was a chance to just relax and jam together. It was amazing how one person started playing and everyone else just seemed to join in, even if they didn’t know the tune. You were just surrounded by music from getting up until going to bed, and it was great!

Folkworks 2015

Folkworks 2015

Alongside ensemble pieces, there were three big tunes as a common thread between all three summer schools; McKechnie’s Farewell, Lang Stay’d Away, and Hand Me Down. Everyone learned them, so that for the finale performance, all three summer schools combined to perform together, playing to the public in Millennium Place in Durham city centre. It is so hard to describe what it was like to see, hear, and play the big tunes all together.

Folkworks 2015 performance in Millennium Place, Durham

Folkworks 2015 musicians play the finale performance in Millennium Place in Durham city centre.

I am so glad to have had this amazing opportunity. I don’t think there was one part of it that I didn’t enjoy.

I would definitely recommend the experience, as I am sure Rachel and Fiona (also from Cream Tees) would too. Everyone is so kind and helpful and you’ll make lots of new friends. I found out about Folkworks through Cream Tees, which has given me a variety of experiences; from working with others to attending festivals and experiencing new activities and instruments.

Don’t think about it – DO it!

Rachel Todd, Heather McLachlan, and Fiona Todd at Folkworks 2015

Rachel Todd, Heather McLachlan, and Fiona Todd at Folkworks 2015.