Folk song, music and dance workshops

An educational project organised in conjunction with




The objectives of the Festival and of the Trust are to preserve and advance public education in and appreciation of traditional and contemporary folk song, music, dance, storytelling and other related traditions, crafts and folk arts as part of our living heritage.

Therefore we started our popular educational projects in 1994 as one means of introducing folk music to the next generation and it has proved a huge success. In fact some schools have been taking one or two days of these workshops nearly every year since!

The educational workshops are open to all schools, colleges and youth groups throughout Kent and beyond. As the Trust is regularly supported by Ashford Borough Council a limited number of workshops are available to schools within the Borough at subsidised rates.  We can also sometimes offer reduced rates to other schools.

We arrange for professional folk musicians to visit a venue to run workshops for a week, a day, half day or an evening as appropriate.  They can work intensively with one group or for shorter periods with several groups.  Most of our workshops feature two leaders and can cater for up to 40 participants.  (In addition at least one teacher must be present throughout.)  We can offer workshops with one leader where the group is smaller or funds are short.

It can be left to the workshop leaders to present a 'taster' - a bit of everything, and then see which aspect appeals to the particular student groups for further work; or alternatively the school can decide which aspect they want to concentrate on before the visit.

A visit could include some of the following elements: 

In order to introduce the type of music the students will be working on (which may be new to them) and to satisfy the “listening” aspect of the project, it is useful for the visit to start with a short talk and performance by the visiting musicians.  This also introduces them to the pupils.  A wide variety of folk songs and music will be performed along with a story or two. Some may be from or about Kent.  The students will be encouraged to participate by joining in choruses.

Questions and Answers Session;
With all but the youngest students this is often an important part of the process.  It offers an opportunity for the students to glean more information about the music, the artists, the folk process, working as a professional musician on the folk scene, or any other relevant matters that may be raised, and to strike up a rapport with the workshop leaders.

Learn a Song;
Students will have the opportunity to sing through a few songs (with song sheets provided) and may decide to rehearse one song to perform to other school groups at a later date.

Learn a Dance;
Children very often find the idea of folk dancing embarrassing but our workshop leaders have a wealth of experience at getting over this and getting everyone involved.  They have a range of dances for all ages; some are very simple, some quite complex.  Once they have started most pupils enjoy it and at this stage that is the main objective.  Some groups do go on to polish up a dance or two for presentation.  If you wish to concentrate on dance you will definitely benefit from a workshop with two leaders - one to play and one to teach the dances.

Sword Dance;
Another aspect of dance, as opposed to the usual social dance, is ritual dance, in this case the sword dance. This is not Scottish sword dancing but the English longsword using flexible wooden 'swords'. This is usually done in groups of 6 or 8 so is best with smaller groups.  It is quite 'macho' and always popular.

Learning the Tune to Accompany the Song or Dance;
This is time consuming and only possible where students are already quite capable on their instruments and where there is time for them to learn and practise the music - perhaps if there are going to be several visits with time in between.

Storytelling is an increasingly popular aspect of 'folk'.  All children, in fact all adults too, enjoy listening to a good story.  The students input could be just a listening or it could be a workshop to encourage the pupils to research and tell stories themselves.

It is satisfying and enjoyable to end a visit with a presentation of what the pupils have learned thus showing each other and/or the parents. In a short visit this is often a 'work in progress' but given more time it can be more polished.

What actually happens on the day is largely governed by the students' reaction to the stimuli offered by the workshop leaders. Where time is limited it is easier and much more effective to go with the tide rather than fight against it, so the visit will vary if the students show a particular interest or aptitude for one or more topics. If however you believe that a particular aspect is most relevant to your curriculum or students let us know in advance so that the workshop leaders can plan the programme accordingly.

The performers we use have a long track record of working in schools with pupils of all ages and in different parts of the country. Our regular musicians include Pete Castle and Keith Kendrick who have taken part in and led many similar projects, either together or individually in Derbyshire, Shropshire, Sussex and Kent.

Pete Castle;
Pete is a former teacher, is a professional singer of traditional songs, storyteller, guitarist, and community arts worker. Since 1978 he has worked as a folk singer at clubs and festivals all over Britain.  Pete also works as a storyteller and does a considerable amount of work in schools and on community projects.  As well as working solo he has worked with a number of groups most famously "Popeluc" who performed a mixture of traditional British and Romanian folk music and were very popular in both countries.  In 2011 he his also working with Pete Morton on a new project, The Chaucer Show.  

Keith Kendrick;
Keith has been performing on concertina, guitar and voice since the late 1960’s when he was a member of the very well know folk group “The Druids”.  He has subsequently been part of various well known and popular line-ups including “Ram's Bottom”, “Muckram Wakes”, “The East Kent Hoppers” and “The Anchor Men”.  He currently works solo, with the trio “Three Sheets to the Wind” and as half of several duos including “One Sheet Short” as well as with Sylvia Needham.  Keith has also appeared in a number of professional plays and is a member of the Derbyshire based theatrical group “The Ram Company”.

Others leaders;
Other workshop leaders are also available from time to time.  Please enquire if you have any particular requirements to fit in with a theme or a project you are undertaking.  Leaders we have used in the past include Pete Coe, Sylvia Needham, Bing Lyle, Bob Kenward, Lucy Castle and Andrew Cronshaw during his "Splendid Venues Tour".   

For more information or to book a workshop contact Alan Castle

                         Tenterden Folk Festival: promoting folk song, music, dance, crafts and traditions: Charity No. 1038663                

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