Meet the Team

NEFS Directors

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 his North East Fiddle School dream a reality.

NEFS Tutor

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.

Virtual Summer School 2021 Tutors

Kevin Lees

Kevin Lees grew up on the vibrant Newcastle folk scene having learnt classical violin since he was seven years old. With an upbringing in Scottish Folk Dance traditions and strong guidance from local musicians Kathryn Tickell and Stewart Hardy, Kevin quickly developed an ear for different genres and traditions in fiddle music and dance. His appetite for fiddle exploration didn’t stop on the Folk Music Degree in Newcastle, where he took an exchange over to Odense, Denmark to further develop his stylistic repertoire. Now, having relocated to Odense, with a Master in Folk Music in hand, Kevin is constantly exploring new traditions, embarking on further challenging projects, and passing on the music that he has so far learned, played and enjoyed.
Kevin’s YouTube Channel
The Good Tune YouTube Channel – with Sebastian Bloch

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. Grace moved away from the North East to start a new chapter in her career in Glossop, where she is thriving and devloping some wonderful work. We are delighted to be welcoming her back to tutor on the Virtual Summer School this year.
Facebook: @GraceSmithMusic
Instagram: @GraceSmithMusic
Twitter: @GSmithMusic

Grace Smith is a fiddle player and clog dancer. She is a dedicated music educator, having taught for organisations including North East Fiddle School, National Youth Folk Ensemble, Folkworks, Newcastle University, Liverpool Philharmonic Youth Company, as well as teaching on a private basis online and at home in Derbyshire. Grace 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. As a performer, she creates new folk music inspired by traditional archive material, and recently formed the ‘Grace Smith Trio’ after a solo project supported by a Seed Funding Bursary awarded by EFDSS as part of the PRS for Music Foundation Talent Development Partnership, as well as performing as a soloist for several online concerts in 2020 and 2021. Grace has also performed with ‘Monster Ceilidh Band’ across Europe at festivals including Rudolstadt Festival (Germany), Les Traversees Tatihou (France), Kendal Calling, Wilderness, and Camp Bestival.

Previous VSS Tutors

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.

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 to provide instructional videos, and as part of the Urban Folk Sessions in Newcastle on a Sunday evening.