Why folk is a young person's genre

Young folk-inspired  performers at this year's May festival.

By June Rowlands

It starts in the cradle

Connecting to Folk Music and Dance in any culture, starts with the ‘babe in arms’!  From soothing ballads sung as lullabies to marching rhythmically and clapping hands to traditional nursery rhymes, tradition is nurtured.

Watch the body language of a toddler when strong rhythmic music is played and indulge yourself in their smiles as they are absorbed and transfixed watching musicians sing or play.

The sensory attraction is inbuilt and its crucial to us as parents, guardians and educators in the community to build upon this.

Sowing a love of the music

In the Pre-school and nursery, we ought to provide simple percussion to accompany tunes and melodies, encourage marching, skipping and dancing both freeform in expression and formal patterns in simple country dances e.g. The Grand Old Duke of York and the introduce children to the maypole. Integrating these into Early Years Education will lay the foundation for the children’s exposure to other Folk Music and Dance traditions, so as the Festival season ‘kicks off’, our opportunity arises to share some heritage and tradition.

Finding your own style

When the seeds are sown and the teen years approach, there might just be a connection for young people to experiment with their voices, dance moves or musical instruments and instead of traditional lessons and classes in mastering these, the young people realise the social benefits of coming together in Folk Music and Dance classes, sessions and lessons.

Taking this onward and upward are many examples of young folk musicians who took their childhood legacy and made it their own. Eliza Carthy in her internet bio “ began from an early age to develop her own, unique approach to traditional music. This was at least partly because of her own vastly eclectic tastes: she is knowledgeable about and interested in musical traditions from all over the world, which continue to fuel her creativity to this day. She has moved through English folk music like a force of nature, both stirring it up and putting it back on the map through television, radio and live performance.”

Blending the new with the old to keep traditions relevant

Young and energetic Morris dancers are taking Traditional Ritual dances and making it their own with interpretations of music and dance, variations in ‘kit’ or costume and creating bands of unusual musical instruments and musicians, creating ‘fusion’ and evolving the movement to embrace current times.  Bringing the dance and music alive and relevant to today’s culture is their unique contribution to the ongoing revival. 

Be part of the next generation of Folk Culture and bring your little ones to The Green on July 1st to share the music and dance and energise the traditions with their input whilst putting a smile on all our faces.


[Photo above of Clary, Florrie and Grace, who have all been inspired by the Folky goings-on in Kimpton]