FOLK musicians of all ages and abilities from across the region and beyond still have time to sign up for Sage Gateshead’s popular Folkworks Summer Schools, which take place in Durham from July 24.

The three summer schools cater for junior (9-13 year-olds), youth (14-20 year-olds) and adult (over 18) and bring together folk music enthusiasts and world renowned traditional musicians to play, sing and dance.

This year’s tutors include one of folk music’s greatest innovators, singer and guitarist Martin Carthy, who is also a recipient of BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards’ Lifetime Achievement Award.

Former storytelling laureate Taffy Thomas MBE, BBC 2 Folk Singer of the Year Chris Wood, folk festival veteran Hannah James (accordionist, singer, clog dancer) and many more stars of the folk world join the line up.

Folkworks Summer Schools have been one of the longest-running and most popular folk music summer schools in the UK since they were established in 1989. This year they will celebrate the culmination of a year-long project called Pass It On (funded by Heritage Lottery Fund) when participants can discover the stories and heritage behind the music and dance they will be learning.

The schools are fun and sociable with lots of sessions, sing-a-rounds, and dances.

Dave Gray, 28, is originally from Lincoln and came up to the North East to attend his first Folkworks Summer School at the age of 14. He came back every year until going on to study a Folk Degree at Newcastle University. He is now a successful musician (melodeon player) and a regular tutor at the Summer Schools.

He said Folkworks Summer School was one of the best experiences of his life and shaped his career as a musician.

“What’s great about it is that you get to connect with other musicians your age with similar interests. You don’t get that anywhere else,” he added.

“I made life-long friends and it gave me a path in life. That’s why it’s so fantastic to be a tutor at the summer schools now. It’s my opportunity to give something back.

“You’re surrounded by incredible musicians and that inspires you to be better. I learnt how to play with people and it shaped my musicianship.

Sam Partridge, 24, is also a past participant and now tutor at Folkworks Summer Schools. He plays the flute and whistle.

He said: “It’s a great opportunity for anyone of any age to really get involved with the traditional music scene in the UK, not just the North East.

“What I love about coming back as a tutor is seeing the progression of the participants and getting to know them. It’s such a friendly, family atmosphere where everyone is working together.”

  • There are still a few places left at each school. Anyone interested should email, call 0191 443 4572 or for more information visit

Adult Summer School 2017 (over 18)

31 July – 5 Aug | St John’s College | Director Ian Lowthian

Youth Summer School 2017 (14 – 20 years)

24 July – 29 July | Durham School | Director Ian Stephenson |

Junior Summer School 2017 (9 – 13 years)

26 July – 29 July | Durham Choristers School | Director Ruth Ball