Meet the Team


Stewart Hardy

Stewart is renowned as one of the top fiddle tutors in the UK. He is both classically trained and steeped in the traditional music of Northumberland & Scotland, which is reflected in his approach to teaching and performing. In great demand as both a private tutor, and as a workshop leader, Stewart can be found teaching across the UK and beyond, leading regular and one-off workshops, tutoring on Summer Schools and leading projects in schools. It has been a long-term aim to deliver regular, high-quality fiddle classes in the region, and to develop strong pedagogic practice amongst tutors, nurturing and celebrating the fiddle tradition of the North East of England; thus was the North East Fiddle School born.


Ali Say

Ali is a familiar face in fiddle workshops and groups across the region, but is probably best known for aiding with the administration of these projects! With a life-long interest in folk music & dance she took up the fiddle as an adult, and has enjoyed being an active participant in workshops, lessons and ensembles ever since. She is the very proud three-times holder of both the Morpeth and Rothbury Traditional Open Fiddle titles, and enjoys her leadership role with the Tyneside Fiddle Alliance. However, with an eye for detail and some knowledge of websites and social media, it is her administration skills & support that have helped Stewart make the North East Fiddle School dream a reality. Recently Ali has expanded her role, taking on the teaching of the Absolute Beginners and the Level 1 classes at NEFS.



Melissa Whitehead

Originally from the Highlands of Scotland, Melissa Whitehead is a graduate of the Newcastle University Folk Degree course. After developing a love of teaching at a young age Melissa went on to study instrumental teaching at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance and now works as a private violin and fiddle tutor in the Newcastle area.


Guest Tutor

Sophy Ball

A truly wonderful performer and teacher, Sophy Ball is in extremely high demand in all aspects of fiddle playing. This sadly prevents her from being a regular tutor at North East Fiddle School, but we are delighted that she has agreed to Guest Tutor on several occasions, and she is always extremely warmly welcomed by the course participants.


Previous Tutors

Grace Smith

Grace was an original tutor with North East Fiddle School and through her dedication, hard work and excellent teaching she made a most wonderful colleague and tutor. Sadly, Grace moved away from the North East this summer to start a new chapter in her career in Glossop. We will miss her and wish her all the very best.

Grace Smith is a fiddle player and clog dancer from Teesside. She graduated with First Class Honours on the BMus Folk and Traditional Music degree at Newcastle University in 2015 and a Distinction on the MMus course there in 2017.

Grace has a passion for teaching and is in high demand as a tutor. She has taught in several settings for a wide range of ages and abilities, including Folkworks Junior Summer School, Folkworks Tuesdays, fiddle tutor at York Young Fiddlers, Newcastle Music Service and mixed instruments tutor at Cream Tees (Music at the Heart of Teesdale). Grace also teaches on a private basis in Newcastle.

Grace is also an experienced performer, playing with several bands as well as solo. She currently performs with Monster Ceilidh Band, The Rachel Hamer Band and in a duo with Sam Partridge. She has also been working with The Holly and Ivy Roadshow, as well as her own project based on material from Cleveland and North Yorkshire through her Master’s project researching the local area’s traditions.


Jim Boyle

Jim Boyle graduated from the University of Newcastle in 2010 and has gone on to make a name for himself as a highly respected English folk fiddle player and teacher. Working with many different musicians, his latest duo work with Dave Grey is a highly recommended listen. Jim has also recently been working with FiddleTutor to provide instructional videos, and as part of the Urban Folk Sessions in Newcastle on a Sunday evening.