Music and Song


Folk music and song are inextricably linked.  TRADS teaches them together and separately, and combines them with other art forms.


Songs Called Folk: An introduction to English folk song.   Where did the songs come from?  Who sang them?  What were they about?  Why did they last so long?  What is their place in today’s world?  Answer all these questions and more through singing the songs.  Suitable for all ages from KS2 upwards, including adult groups.  Can be fitted into any time slot, from one short workshop, to a  more in-depth series.

Sing Out:  Learn chants, rounds, chorus songs, work songs and part songs from Britain and around the world.   For all ages, abilities and situations.

Sail Away: Singing Around Cape Horn:  Shanties were the work songs of the British merchant fleet, sung by the shanty-man to help the sailors ‘pull together’ and work in the rhythms that their different tasks required.  They are rollicking chorus songs that are some of the most enjoyable of all traditional songs to sing, great for singing as ‘call and response’ and for harmonising.  Workshops consist of simply singing the songs, or we can add learning about the history and background; arranging and devising harmonies; making up your own.  Sing purely for pleasure or work to a performance.  For all ages and abilities.

Singing Our Song:  A song writing project for primary age KS2 pupils or youth groups.  Sing a variety of simple songs from around the world, create new versions which suit your own lives and ideas and perform them to an audience.

Passion, Murder and Gossip:  A two-part song-writing workshop for KS3 and 4, for older youth groups, or for adult groups.  Songs and ballads were once the equivalent of today’s tabloids and gossip magazines, passing on all the sensational stories of the time.  The basic, human stories they relate are universal and just as relevant today as when they first hit the headlines.  Hear several versions of a song.  Write your own, keeping the theme of the story but giving it a modern setting and characters.  Tweak the tune, add a modern arrangement.

Singing the Season:   Experience the whole year or a part of the year in song, taking in customs, history and fascinating facts on the way.  A one-off workshop or a series leading to performance.  Suitable for all ages and groups from KS2 upwards.  (See also Calendar Customs).

Playground Sounds:  Two sessions, suitable for KS1 and 2.  Put children together in a playground and they naturally play a game.  There are clapping rituals, circle games, trust games, team games and skipping games plus accompanying songs and chants.  Games are handed down through generations, being added to and changed as they go.  We bring along singing games, old and new, and get participants to teach us theirs.  Teachers are encouraged to continue the process in classroom and playground.  Playing singing games in school has been shown to

  • enhance musical and singing ability
  • improve language skills
  • aid physical development
  • encourage social development
  • diminish bullying and violence in the playground

Singing Our Lives:  A series of sessions of reminiscence and song writing for older people.  Share memories, put them together into songs with familiar tunes and perform them to friends and family.


The Music Session:  For competent musicians of all ages.  A one-off taster or a series of workshops.  Play the most popular tunes from English music sessions.

Playing for Dance:  For competent musicians of all ages.  Best as a series of workshops.  Play some of the tunes that accompany a range of traditional dances and learn the techniques needed to work with dancers.

Make and Play: For ages 5 – 13.  Make instruments from found materials and play them in a band.

Gower House Folk: Our tutor Lucy Duff runs a weekly folk group on Thursdays for ages 16+ in Gower House, Ashford. At present the ages range from 16 to 60+ and there are around 17 regular participants. All abilities and instruments are welcome. The group learn a range of folk songs and tunes and perform these in concerts and ceilidhs. English folk plays and customs are also covered. The musical repertoire comes mostly from the British Isles and Ireland along with a few tunes from France, Eastern Europe and Scandinavia

We Can Do Music:  For KS1 and 2.  Two one-hour sessions involving song, the use of simple instruments, basic composition and one simple dance.  This is an introduction to traditional music and dance for pupils and also an ideal way of informing teachers about basic music teaching without the need for formal musical knowledge.  Teachers’ session also available.

English Ceilidh:  See under Dance.

CeilidhBeats:  A total ceilidh experience for KS 3 and 4 (years 9-13), running over a whole school term.  Play for a ceilidh using DJ equipment, synthesiser and sound engineering techniques, djembe and bass guitar, alongside traditional instruments, whilst others learn and devise dances and prepare publicity.   Training for teachers is also available.

Rhythm Sticks: For KS 2 and 3, or youth groups.  African drumming, and simple rhythms using bamboo sticks, claves and large willow sticks.  Combine these with a traditional English stick dance for a fusion of styles and a dynamic performance.  Two workshop sessions, or four leading to performance.


Traditional music, song, dance and drama are inseparable parts of the whole folk experience.  We tailor combined arts workshops and performances to suit the needs of clients.  Below are some examples.

Folk: What It’s All About: For all ages and types of group from primary KS2 to adult.  A basic and participatory introduction to traditional music, song, dance and drama.  Available as a one-off session or as a series.

Celebrate the Season:  See Calendar Customs

Music Tells the Story: Music combined with story-telling, showing how music can enhance a storyteller’s performance.  Inclydes traditional story-telling and Playback Theatre.  Suitable for groups of KS3 and above, youth groups and adult groups, who include both musicians and willing actor-performers.

Working with the Curriculum:  Participatory programmes for curriculum topics.  Learning any of the traditional performing arts automatically hits a number of curriculum topics: music, drama, PE, history, geography, English and art being the main examples.  TRADS can put programmes together for specific topics.


TRADS ‘Music Roundabout’ sessions for under-fives provide a fun, interractive way of experiencing the basic musical skills.

A child who has an early, positive experience of singing, playing and moving to music will carry their enthusiasm through to their first school years and often beyond.

Length of Sessions: A Music Roundabout session is usually 45 mins to 1 hour long.

Content: Simple songs and rhymes (Where children are very young we use bouncing, cuddling and other inter-active mother-and-baby songs); hand action rhymes and songs; action songs; singing games; moving to different types of music; laying and naming a wide variety of simple instruments; playing in a band with others in a group; playing solo; listening to and playing along with acoustic instruments. All aided by the use of puppets, toys, coloured scarves and a bouncing pond with frogs and fish.

Aims: Children learn rhythm, the concepts of loud and soft, fast and slow, high and low,when to start and when to stop.  They get to explore and enjoy using their own voice.           Physical and social skills, confidence, imagination, listening and language development are all enhanced by our teaching methods.

Ages: We work with all ages from 0-5 years, either in mixed or in age-specific groups.

Involving Adults: Accompanying adults are included as an essential part of the group.  Parents and carers can develop the skills and sing the songs at home.

Nurseries and Schools: In nursery settings, teachers are encouraged to become involved, learn the activities and carry them on between sessions. In pre-school nurseries, TRADS tutors can work with educational themes, choosing songs and activities to complement the everyday teaching of the staff.

Number of Sessions: Musical learning is greatly enhanced by repetition, so a block of 6 or more weekly or fortnightly sessions is ideal, or even once a month for a year.

One-Off Occasions: We also provide a one-off, fun, musical experience for open days or play days, indoor or out-door,  as a taught session or as a drop-in.

Tutor Qualifications:  TRADS Early Years tutors have an Advanced Certificate in Early Years Music and Movement from Canterbury Christchurch University.



Singing to your baby before birth

A unique series of six sessions which combine singing traditional rhymes and lullabies with the breathing, relaxation and gentle toning of Sound Therapy

Tune in to your baby so it learns to recognise and enjoy listening to your voice even before birth.  The songs you sing now will be magical, calming and bonding  for you and your child, and you will get the opportunity to make up your own special songs. This is the beginning of a life-time of  singing together. Fathers welcome too.

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