Block 5 with added Live Teaching

We had a fantastic time at the Virtual Summer School this block, and as we prepare for the next block of online classes we want to add some more of that live experience into our weekly meetings.

So we are adding a Live Teaching element which will follow on from the Fiddle Practice Calls on a Wednesday evening. These will be 45 minutes of Core Repertoire building, reinforcing the fundamentals of fiddle playing with some fun and accessible tunes. Players of both ability levels are welcome and notation will be provided although the tunes will be taught as if by ear. There will be some new tunes to expand your repertoire, and there will also be some tunes which have been taught in previous NEFS blocks or at other workshops. By revisiting these, and ‘learning’ them again by ear with a reminder of finger and bowing patterns and the groove of the tune, they will become more familiar and easier to play. Recordings of the Live Teaching calls will be available each week in case you have to miss one, or experience technical difficulties, or if indeed you prefer to work from YouTube rather than Zoom.

If you would like to take part in these calls or to have access to the Recordings, you can sign up now and make sure you tick the Block 5 Online with Live Teaching (£59) option on the Block 5 Booking Form. If you would prefer to stick to the Video Tutorials and Fiddle Practice Calls, please select the Block 5 Online standard (£47) option. Payment can then be made through the Shop using a bank transfer, cheque or PayPal.

Virtual Summer School Thank You!

A huge thank you to absolutely everyone who attended our Virtual Summer School. We were blown away by the number of participants and by your enthusiasm and positive attitude throughout the weekend. We had a fantastic time and hope that you all enjoyed the Zoom calls, the chat events, the video tutorials and the concert! We would also like to thank our fabulous tutors who worked so hard to record videos in advance, provide great resource sheets, and did an amazing job of teaching on Zoom and being good sports in the chat events! Thank you so much! Please visit the Merchandise Page to see links to their websites and social media pages to support their work.

If you were signed up, don’t forget that you can visit the VSS Events page for links to Recordings of all the live calls (available until 23rd Sept), to the Video Tutorials (available until 23rd Feb 2021!) and all the worksheets, exercise sheets and audio files which are yours to keep.

If you would like to hear more from NEFS about our regular Online Classes or future events, you can sign up to our Mailing List.

NEFS Virtual Summer School

Exciting announcement!
Sat 22nd & Sun 23rd August 2020

Save the date! We are planning a virtual fiddle Summer School! There will be the chance to learn from some of the North East’s favourite fiddle tutors from the comfort of your own home. We will be holding live Zoom events including short workshops guiding good fiddle practice, regular tune workshops, interactive sessions with the tutors and a Play-along Session with tutors leading the sets. In addition there will be pre-recorded video tutorials prepared especially for the Summer School (with a chance to ask questions) and a Tutors Concert. Two full days of activities and a chance to meet and learn from some wonderful fiddle players and tutors: Sophy Ball, Kevin Lees, Grace Smith, Jim Boyle, Melissa Whitehead and Stewart Hardy.

If you would like to be contacted with more information when it becomes available, please email or use the Contact Form to get in touch.

Virtual NEFS – another block

As we come to the end of our first block of Virtual NEFS we would like to say a huge thank you to everyone who has supported us. It has been a huge transition for participants and tutors alike as we’ve moved to printing your own worksheets, downloading the audio files and immersing yourselves in countless hours of video tutorials.

Obviously we have missed the personal connection of our weekly classes, the shared effort, the feedback the tutors get and respond to in the face to face classes, our coffee and biscuits breaks, and the chance to heckle in person! But there is an upside to all this…

We have been delighted to welcome new participants who wouldn’t normally be able to get to Newcastle on a Wednesday evening, either due to other commitments, or because they live too far away. This block we have had people join from as far afield as Leeds, Orkney and South Australia!

There is also the chance to be taught the tunes at a pace that suits you, without any fear that you will be holding up the class. Sections of videos can be repeated as often as you wish, giving plenty of time to learn the tune by ear, really get into the groove of the bowing, or concentrate on your cuts and flicks! The videos are timestamped so you can easily repeat a section, and YouTube has a handy playback speed setting, so even if the steady playthrough is a little fast, you can slow it even more with that.

Our Fiddle Practice calls on Zoom have been a lot of fun and it has been great to see people enjoying their fiddle practice together. It’s an excellent way to push yourself and try new things as no-one else can hear how it’s sounding – it’s just you playing in duet with Stewart as he leads the exercises. There has been time for questions on the call, and a new Chat Room means we can keep in touch, ask more questions and share news of fiddle concerts and videos.

We are now taking bookings for our next block of Virtual NEFS, which will run from Weds 10th June to 8th July. Book now using the new online booking form, or get in touch with questions via email or the contact form. We look forward to welcoming you to our NEFS online community.

Virtual NEFS

During this period of social distancing and self-isolation due to the Covid-19 virus, we are keen to provide resources for those wanting to continue their fiddle tuition. Not least this will also provide an income for our wonderful tutors, who as self-employed musicians have seen their entire business models crumble: face to face teaching work, private lessons, school work, group workshops, concerts and tours are all cancelled.

We will therefore be trialling a block of Virtual Classes for NEFS from Weds 22nd April, building on the high-quality resources already regularly provided to support learning. These will include tune audio files and notation in advance, audio or videos of weekly exercises and technical elements, worksheets with bowing and ornamentation, and videos of the tunes learned. Live Q&A sessions and a group social gathering via video-conferencing will be included. Details of pricing will follow, but you can get in touch to register your interest.

We hope that many of our regular attendees will give this format a try. It won’t be the same as face to face classes, but we hope you will continue to enjoy your fiddle playing and that these resources will focus your practice and support your efforts. It also gives us the opportunity to make our resources available to a wider audience and include those who are not regularly able to travel to Newcastle for weekly classes. So don’t hesitate to join us for a one-off block of classes if you would like to try it out

Happy Fiddle Playing!

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.