Kimpton Folk reaching out!

June Rowlands talks about the Kimpton Folk Events Outreach programme

fun at School

Our Outreach Programme is a key part of what we, as a registered charity, do grow love of and participation in, the folk arts in our local community. We kicked it off last year right in the heart of the village with the children in the Kimpton Primary School. Our Trustees approved funding to hire a professional folk musician to conduct two folk days, with the whole school teaching Hertfordshire folk tales/songs and dances as well as some national favourites - familiar to so many of us from our own childhoods!

The children then opened the Kimpton Folk Festival in July, on the main stage with renditions of their favourite folk songs with added verses creating their own style.

special needs

This year’s goal, with similar funding, is for two of our Trustees with teaching skills in music/dance and song to run short workshops in Hertfordshire schools focusing on inclusivity and children with special educational needs. The intended outcome is for these children and families to feel welcome at this year’s festival and participate in the Garden Fields program. The take-up has been positive with two schools booked and four more interested in the program.

So far two successful workshops have been conducted in Lakeside and Lonsdale Schools in Hertfordshire, with a further one scheduled for March. The students, many of whom have severe disabilities and use wheelchairs, joined the accordionist and fiddle player with percussion instruments exploring dynamics of sound and movement to traditional English/Irish/Scottish dance tunes. Similarly, sharing, moving and holding a section of the very large and colourful parachute in time to the music was a favourite activity.

A simple dance followed with all students participating in the traditional moves of a country dance, progressing along the line of dancers in a forward and back motion, moving in time to the live musical accompaniment. A gift of a CD with a selection of dance music from the Festival Artists has been given to the schools to recreate this session in their own time.

teen tune times

Slow Jam has been another successful Outreach endeavour when in November, at a local venue in Kimpton Dacre Rooms, several young (and not so young) talented musicians gathered to learn to play folk tunes by ear with no music or manuscript. The concept of the ‘slow jam’ is to break down tunes into bite-size pieces to repeat and internalise them without ‘following the dots’.

This has the effect of memorising tunes effectively and can free the musician to feel more of the spirit of the tunes. These vary from either lively dance themes or slow ballad or waltz tunes.

After this successful event another is scheduled for March 3. Returning musicians and others newly interested are welcome. Details from June Rowlands junerowlands@yahoo.co.uk.

The forthcoming Kimpton Folk Festival on July 6th would welcome any of these young buskers to perform freely at the Busk Stops around the village.