Time: 15:45 - 17:30
Tutor: Allison Sleator [external website].
This course will be delivered online. See the ‘What is the course about?’ section in course details for more information.
Course Code: MF850
Duration: 10 sessions (over 10 weeks)
What is the course about?
This is a practical workshop, conducted online, to learn and explore folk genres, from ballads and shanties to work songs, contemporary and world folk and ceremonial songs, in a variety of singing styles. We will sing as a group, but also explore techniques applicable to solo singing, and there will be opportunities for solo singing for anyone who wishes. Repertoire will include :
• Willy O’Winsbury – Pentangle
• Wild Rover – Lankum
• Out of the Window – Len Graham
• Don’t think Twice – Odetta
Songs will be chosen by the tutor, drawing from the vast and rich repertoire of songs of Britain, the Irish and British Isles and beyond, to be sung primarily in English.
We will sing songs written or covered by artists/bands such as; Tim O’Brien, June Tabor, Vashti Bunyan, Pentangle, Odetta, Joan Baez and more.
This is a live online course. You will need:
- Internet connection. The classes work best with Chrome.
- A computer with microphone and camera is best (e.g. a PC/laptop/iMac/MacBook), or a tablet/iPad/smart phone/iPhone if you don't have a computer.
We will contact you with joining instructions before your course starts.
What will we cover?
• Vocal techniques appropriate to folk singing (these may be different from vocal techniques that you have learned elsewhere)
• We will learn a new song by ear each week, with lyrics provided after first learning the tune
• Ornamentation, harmony singing and interpretation
• Genres and styles of traditional and contemporary folk song.
What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...
• develop musical skills through learning by ear
• perform folk songs with confidence
• develop your understanding of difference genres and styles of folk song
• demonstrate some understanding of ornamentation, use of tone, phrasing and variation.
What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?
The course is suitable for singers with a range of singing and musical experience. You need to be able to sing in tune and in time, but you do not need to be able to read musical notation, as tunes will be learned by ear.
You need to be able to follow written and verbal instructions in English, read lyrics, engage in class discussions, and take your own notes.
How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?
• Vocal warm-ups, vocal and breathing techniques appropriate to folk singing
• Tutor demonstration of songs, singing techniques, ornamentation etc.
• Singing as a group, and opportunity to sing solo for those who wish to
• Tutor critique and feedback, and advice on researching tunes for further study
You may be permitted to record the tutor’s demonstration of the song for your own reference outside class (the tutor will advise when you may record), and to record your own solo singing.
It is not appropriate to record the group singing or discussion, or the solo singing of other students unless the individual explicitly permit this.
Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?
All materials will be supplied by the tutor and available in the google classroom. You may wish to explore resources such as: A.L. Lloyd, Folk Song in England (1967)
Cecil Sharp House [external website]
Irish Cultural Centre [external website]
Traditional Arts & Culture Scotland [external website]
Discover Welsh music [external website]
British Library: world and traditional music [external website].
When I've finished, what course can I do next?
You may wish to take another Sing folk course later in the year, explore World music courses covering a range of traditional musics, or instruments such as Folk and pop guitar, Ukulele, or Blues Harmonica.
If you are interested in other types of singing courses, please read our blogpost Choosing a singing class at City Lit or contact the Music department for further advice.