Absolute Beginners & Level 1

We are delighted to announce that we are once again going to run our Absolute Beginners class and a Level 1 class on a Wednesday evening. Following a successful trial of an Absolute Beginners class we are going to accept a small number of bookings for Block 3 which starts on Weds 22nd April. This will run for 5 weeks during the early class, from 6.30 – 7.45 pm with Ali Say.

Ali will also be teaching a Level 1 class from 8.00 – 9.15 pm, so if the description of the Level sounds suitable for you (you can read more on our Classes page), then do get in touch. Places are very limited, so have a chat to see if these might be right for you.

Bookings for Levels 2 and 3 for April will be open soon, but you can get in touch now and ask to be notified. Current students are given the option to continue, then spare places will be open to new students. Join us!

NEFS Celebration – 10 blocks of classes

We had a very enjoyable social evening at the end of term to celebrate completing ten blocks of classes since NEFS was launched. It was lovely to bring everyone together to enjoy some tunes and we were delighted to welcome back Grace Smith for the evening. Thanks to everybody who contributed a solo or duo spot and thanks to everybody who picked up an instrument to join in the session.

Just a quick reminder that our next block begins on Weds 25th September. The block runs for 5 weeks and we have two ability levels for both Technique and Style/Repertoire. We are always delighted to welcome new participants and you can reserve your place from 19th August by requesting a booking form from Ali.

Block 4 – June & July 2019

The year is passing swiftly it seems, and we are planning our classes for the last Block of this academic year. We will be taking a week off on 29th May, and the workshops will begin again on Weds 5th June for 5 weeks. We will then take an extended break over the summer.

For this block Stewart will be looking at one of the definitive tune forms of the North East, the triple time hornpipe with Level 2 Style class and has chosen some great examples to look at in depth. Melissa will be teaching the Level 3 Style class and will be exploring some of the fantastic tunes by Canadian fiddler Oliver Schroer. As usual, Melissa and Stewart will swap groups for the Technique classes, which will teach exercises and techniques geared up to support the Style class repertoire, but are equally applicable to so much other repertoire and general musicianship.

If you are an adult fiddle player who is looking for a supportive and encouraging group in which to improve your playing, with expert tuition at all levels, then do consider joining us. Resources are provided each week in the form of recordings of the tunes and exercises, as well as notation and there is always time for informal chats over coffee & biscuits between the classes! Drop Ali an email or use the contact form if you would like more information or to book.


Classes for April & May

Spring is definitely in the air and we have completed another block of classes at NEFS. We are taking a few weeks off over Easter, and will begin our new block on Wednesday 24th April. This will run for 5 weeks again (until Weds 22nd May) and Melissa and Stewart have chosen some lovely tunes for both levels. Bookings are now open for 2019 Block 3 – if you would like to book a place, please use the Contact page to get in touch.

Level 2
The theme for Melissa’s Style class will be fiddle tunes which originate in song melodies, including the lovely The Lea Rig, and will use these to look further into transposing tunes on the fiddle.

Level 3
Stewart will be “Extending the Range” with Level 3, and has chosen to include two modern tunes in the traditional style which embrace all 4 strings on the fiddle, and a wonderful modern composition by Jenna Reid called The Gamekeeper’s Cottage, which extends the lyrical phrase in a most beautiful way

Details of the Level descriptors are on the Classes page. Join us for another five weeks of fabulous fiddle tuition.

A new block of classes

We have reached the second block of the year already, and are taking bookings for the five weeks from 27th February to 27th March. This block we will be running classes at Level 2 and Level 3. Level 2 will have Melissa for Technique and Stewart for Style, and Level 3 will have Stewart for Technique and Melissa for Style. If you would like to book a place, please use the Contact page to get in touch.

Level 2
Stewart’s Style class theme will be “Ringing Strings & Lazy Bows”, exploring how and when to play more than one note in great fiddle tunes.

Level 3
Melissa has chosen to explore the hypnotic time signature of 7/8 with Level 3. This time signature has some great grooves that, once you’ve got the hang of them, you’ll never want to let go.

Join us for another five weeks of fabulous fiddle tuition.

Happy New Year!

Well, here we are in 2019! We are very much looking forward to getting back into our regular Wednesday fiddle tuition evenings and we begin on Weds 16th January for the first 5 week block of the year.

Melissa will be teaching the repertoire for Level 2 in their Style class, and Stewart has chosen some great tunes for Level 3. Each group will also have the other tutor for their Technique class which will provide exercises for improving your general playing and musicianship, along with teaching tips focused on helping you make progress with learning the new repertoire.

There are just a couple of places left for each level so if you are interested in coming or have further questions, do get in touch.

Happy Fiddle Playing!

November/December Half-term

We had a great start to the Autumn term, and welcomed new Level 1 students and Absolute Beginners to the North East Fiddle School. We were delighted to have Melissa Whitehead and Jim Boyle teaching alongside Stewart for the five-week block, which allowed us to run the extra classes.

This coming half-term (7th Nov to 5th Dec) we will be running classes at Level 2 and Level 3. Level 2 will have Melissa for Technique and Stewart for Style, and Level 3 will have Stewart for Technique and Melissa for Style. If you would like to book a place, please use the Contact page to get in touch.

Level 2
Stewart’s Style class theme will be Solid Structures. An understanding of how tunes are constructed is a key element to navigating your way around an aural tradition and acquiring repertoire. These workshops will explore a fundamental structure and see how it helps to learn tunes, join in with other musicians and create variation.

Level 3
Melissa has chosen 3 cracking tunes from a great collaborative collection Gruth is Uachdar by Donald Shaw & Charlie McKerron. As well as being great tunes, these will give the opportunity to look at some different ornamentation styles, as well as some string accompaniment techniques, such as pizzicato and smoothly bowed string parts.

We would like to thank Jim for joining us at the North East Fiddle School this half-term and wish him all the very best with the many projects he has on the go right now. We hope that soon there will be more space in the diary and we will be able to have him back to teach with us.

New Classes for Autumn 2018

We are very excited to announce that there are new classes available for this half-term which begins on Wednesday 26th September. We are introducing an extra level as a foundation for our classes – this will now be known as Level 1, and all current Level 1 and 2 students will be ‘promoted’ to Levels 2 and 3. This should allow everyone to find a class in which they feel comfortable and yet sufficiently challenged! Don’t worry though if you’re not sure where you fit – more details are available on the Classes page, and the levels are set in stone, so you can find which is best for you.

This has been made possible by the fantastic news that we have two new tutors with us this term – Melissa Whitehead and
Jim Boyle are joining the team, and we are very much looking forward to hearing the repertoire they will bring, and experiencing their own unique teaching styles. You can read a little about them on the updated Meet The Team page.

We also have a brand new Absolute Beginners class, which has been made possible by some very generous funding. This means we can offer this class to the community at the bargain rate of £3 per class. We will run it as a drop-in, so if you realise it’s not for you then you can just drop out again – but you’ve nothing to lose by giving it a go (well, very little)!

Rothbury Traditional Music Festival 2018

On the weekend of 13th – 15th July this year it was the annual Rothbury Traditional Music Festival. This is a wonderful weekend and is something that our directors, Stewart & Ali, love to support. This year, as in the past few years, getting a group from the Tyneside Fiddle Alliance to enter the Ceilidh Band competition has been key in encouraging lots of people to attend and supoprt the traditional competitions.

This year there was a clean sweep for TFA members in all of the Fiddle Competitions, including Ali’s Open win, and an enjoyable duet set from Stewart & Ali. TFA themselves were the deserving Open Ceilidh Band winners and it was fantastic to see the number of people happy to get up and take part. Well done to all!

Rothbury, like many voluntarily run organisations, are struggling with the workload to keep a festival such as this running following recent retirements. They are keen to recruit some new members to the committee, without which Rothbury may not be able to go ahead next year. If you can help out in anyway, please get in touch with them.



Thank you and Farewell to Grace

We are sorry to say that Grace is moving away from the area this summer and will no longer be available to teach at North East Fiddle School. Grace has been a key part in the success of NEFS to date, right from the early planning meetings. She has provided some great tunes and excellent tuition, and has been a complete joy to work with.

Grace – thank you, and good luck with all your future endeavours. We hope you will pop up and see us again very soon!

If you’d like to keep in touch with Grace and follow her future projects, you can like her Facebook page @Grace Smith Music.

We will soon be opening bookings for our next term which will begin on Weds 26th Sept. Check back soon for some new classes being offered and details of our new tutoring team. If you are interested in improving your fiddle technique, expanding your repertoire and enhancing your musicianship this is the place for you! We are a very friendly bunch, with excellent tutors and we have a lot fun!