NEFS Online and In-person

Well, the title just about sums it up! We are continuing to run our online option but are also adding some elements of in-person workshops for those who are happy to attend. The Online option has in-depth Video Tutorials, teaching technique and tunes which you can watch at your own convenience and replay as many times as you wish, combined with weekly Zoom calls. The calls take place on a Wednesday evening for five weeks and incoporate Fiddle Practice, a Technical Nugget, and the teaching of a couple of tunes (one new to NEFS, and another which was previously taught in a block pre-COVID!) It is great to join the call, knowing everyone else is doing the same from their own houses (or indeed holiday homes or caravans!) and get a sense of community. All the calls are recorded though, so if you aren’t available for a week, or possibly for any of them live, you can watch them back and take part at any time).

Our in-person options include two Thursday evenings, where we are focusing on the joy of playing together, and helping us to prepare to play in other music sessions. Popular session tunes will be taught, along with general skills for picking up tunes by ear, and the second half of each evening will be a session, using the common repertoire we have learnt in these workshops, and at previous times.

We are also holding a full day of workshops on one Saturday in each block. These are based on the same in-depth technique and tune workshops which used to take place on a Wednesday evening at Westfield School. However, in order to allow those who would need to travel further the chance to attend, we are holding them as a complete day. Melissa and Stewart will both teach tunes during the day, aiming to make them accessible to all, with ideas to stretch the more able players, and we will finish the day with a session together.

For more details about the current or upcoming block, please visit the Classes page, and places can be booked in the Shop.

Virtual Summer School 2021

We are very excited to announce that Ali’s arm has been twisted and we will be holding another online summer school this year! (only kidding – she needs her arm to play the fiddle!)

We are delighted to welcome back Kevin Lees and Grace Smith who will be tutoring alongside Stewart and Melissa. The event will run over the weekend of 23rd – 25th July 2021, and will be entirely online. We will begin with a play-along session in harmony with Stewart on the Friday evening. These have proved to be very popular during lockdown in his own workshops, so we wanted to bring the experience to NEFS. On the Saturday and Sunday there will be a full live schedule of guided fiddle practice, live workshops for each ability level, tutor discussion events, a concert and a tutor-led session, as well as a Big Tune for everyone to learn and play. There will also be video tutorials which you can do instead of the live workshops for different levels, or at a later date as you will have access to these for six months. All live workshops will also be recorded and available to catch-up with for a month.

Full details will be published on the Virtual Summer School web page, and bookings will be open soon. Save the date!

NEFS VSS 2021: 23rd - 25th July

NEFS on Instagram!

We have a new Instagram account to share with you! If you are an Instagram user, or just want to see what we are getting up to, please follow our profile page and like some of our posts. Huge thanks to Melissa for kickstarting this and getting the content up and running!

Happy New Year 2021

So that was 2020! The year that NEFS embraced online learning through video tutorials and live Zoom calls. We can’t thank you enough for your support, especially through the trickier times as we migrated rather suddenly at the start of lockdown back in March, and navigated the steep learning curves of video and audio editing, online bookings, more reliance on the website, and not least of all, Zoom!

One upside was that we have been able to welcome new participants from further afield, and also those who couldn’t make Wednesday evenings – with recordings of the Zoom calls available you can access all of the materials at any time of the day or night! Sadly, not all of our regulars have been able to join in online, so we hope it won’t be too long before we can meet again in person.

In the meantime, we have planned 2021 Block 1 Online and bookings are now open. We have decided to reduce the quantity of material slightly (but not the quality!), so that there will be two new tunes for each of Level 2 and 3, one aimed at the entry standard to that level, so well within your comfort zone, and one a little more challenging. Focusing on two tunes for 5 weeks will allow for some more in-depth study, and less anxiety about ‘keeping up’. All participants will have access to both Levels’ tunes, so if you are looking for more of a challenge there will be enough to keep you occupied. There are also the Live Teaching tunes, which will be taught on Zoom calls to add to your ‘playable from memory’ repertoire.

We hope you will join us again – and we always welcome new participants! So, if your New Year’s resolution is to improve your fiddle playing in a friendly and supportive community of adult learners, this could be just for you! You can read more details about the block on the Classes page, and online bookings are open now.

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!