Subject Advice

Folk Music playing

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Sarah Maidlow  Gloucester & District u3a

What's my background and experience?

Although I’ve been involved in music all my life, as a performer and as a teacher, I only joined a folk band after I retired. We were living in Australia at the time and I was fortunate to live in a city with a very active u3a that included quite a large folk band. When we came back to the UK , I found that the local branch didn’t have anything similar I volunteered to begin one myself.

Our u3a group  - "THIRD AGE FOLK"

Some of the band are from among the 10 or so original members while others have come and gone over the intervening period: they’ve moved away or we aren’t doing quite what they’re after. The band has since remained between 15 and 20 active members. (We were lucky that there was enough enthusiasm to carry us through the lockdowns and people were very flexible when we we first started to meet face-to-face again outdoors.)

Some of the band play / sing by ear or from lyrics and chords while others read sheet music with different degrees of fluency. We're largely acoustic and, almost entirely, play music that isn’t under copyright. We meet every week in term time, for a couple of hours (including a short tea-break). Although the choice of music is largely mine, we've gradually built up quite a large repertoire that includes suggestions from members, past and present.

We play to local audiences of one sort and another, usually on the informal side, up to half-a-dozen times a term and have a couple of regular commitments.

How can I help?

I can offer a sounding-board and suggestions for aspects such as:

  • time and commitment - how often would you want to meet and for how long?  are potential members expected to commit or can anyone roll up any time?
  • purpose - is this purely for fun, for the benefit of band members, or might you want to consider playing for others at some stage?
  • repertoire - how widely do you want to cast your net for songs? (In addition to exploring sources, I’m happy to help with arrangements of particular pieces.)
  • inclusivity - how can the music be made accessible to everyone who might be interested in joining?
  • venues - what choices do you have? what are relative priorities: access? acoustics? parking? convenience? comfort? cost?
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