Back to in person music making in Neilston!

Posted: 02 May 2022, in News

The Folks’ Music Project CIC is a Community Interest Company founded in March 2021 by a group of Glasgow based traditional musicians, drawing upon their collective experience as performers and educators. TFMP aims to provide affordable and accessible traditional music group activities and tuition to people of all ages in community settings across Greater Glasgow. Much of our activity to date has focused on supporting and encouraging individuals and families to come together – following the extended periods of isolation brought by the pandemic – to share, experience and explore traditional music in a safe, informal and sociable environment. 

We work closely with and receive invaluable support from Music Broth, the Glasgow based social enterprise who run an instrument library of restored musical instruments and The Nifty Harp Project CIC, a Peebles based Community Interest Company founded by harp maker Mark Norris which designs and manufactures high-quality, affordable harps.

In Autumn 2021 we began a 16-week programme of group traditional music classes which, following unexpected levels of demand, saw 9 group classes per week for both adults and young people in harp, fiddle and guitar held at the Neilston Development Trust’s space The Bank – in the heart of the East Renfrewshire village of Neilston. These classes were aimed at complete beginners with no previous musical experience required and thanks to our partner organisations musical instruments could be provided for all participants. Across the programme we saw 50 participants attending ranging from early primary school to elderly people, with three generations of several families in attendance. In addition to these classes, we also facilitate a monthly community traditional music jam session in the village where a group of our tutors support local musicians to share, play and perform traditional music together in an informal and sociable setting with everyone welcome to come along and join in or simply listen. 

This project was fully funded by the Neilston Windfarm Legacy fund who were tremendously supportive and flexible given the complexity and uncertainty of the pandemic during this period. Thanks to the fantastic support of NWL and NDT as well as our participants and tutors we were able to mitigate the risk of the spread of COVID-19 through adhering to our own and the Scottish government’s protocol and guidelines. We were regularly challenged with absences and cancelation due to fluctuating case rates in the community but there has been a tremendous kindness and understanding from all involved. 

Going forward, thanks to the continued support of NWL we are now continuing our Neilston programme on a Pay What You Can basis, with participants being given the opportunity to make a donation towards supporting the programme if they feel they can and NWL guaranteeing the outstanding cost. It is hoped this will ensure the programme can remain accessible while also ensuring it remains sustainable. We will be continuing to run our monthly community traditional music jam sessions which are now an established community event. In addition to this, we have added a junior folk group class which gives young people who already play an instrument the opportunity to come together and explore traditional music in a group setting. 

As a youngster who grew up in the village and started out on my path to becoming a professional musician after attending some low cost traditional music classes available in the village at that time, it has been a real pleasure to facilitate the delivery of such activities in the village once again. It has also been a joy to once again share music alongside members of the community, many of whom have felt isolated during the pandemic.

 We are now using the model and structure of our Neilston programme as a framework for activities in other areas as part of our regular programme. We will continue to look to obtain funding to support these programmes being free or low-cost to ensure they are as accessible and sustainable as possible.  

Neil Wood – Founder and Director of The Folks’ Music Project