The Devon Youth Folk Ensemble is for any person aged 13-18 years to play and develop their folk music skills. This is a serious music group, but it’s also seriously fun! With rehearsals from September, the year culminates in a weekend residential before performing at summer folk festivals and other events.
We welcome any young person interested in folk music and exploring and developing their musical skills. No prior musical experience is needed, and you don’t need to read music. We never make people audition, and we don’t have maximum numbers so young people are guaranteed a space if they would like to join. You’ll get expert tuition, write new tunes and upskill your instrumental techniques to give you the confidence to perform live.
Our approach is accessible and inclusive for both those who have no music theory education and more experienced young musicians. You’ll develop techniques from the folk genre. This includes improvising harmonies, composition, making arrangements and learning by ear, plus learning about the common modes and time signatures of folk music.
You’ll get creative too. Folk as a genre includes tunes that are both old and new, and come from all over the world. You can suggest tunes for the ensemble to learn, as well as get involved with writing tunes and creating your own harmonies and arrangements.
Of course, it’s also about making friends and having fun! The group is inclusive and you’ll get to know like-minded people. At the residential, you’ll spend time together as a group and enjoy sharing experiences and the joy of making music.
You need to have your own acoustic instrument and a good level of confidence playing it. However, there is no minimum grade or grade equivalent required. The group is open to a wide range of instruments and we arrange tunes in parts to cover tune, harmony, bass and chords. Instrumentalists will develop their folk style and ability to play with others. There’s no need to read the musical score unless you want to, and we can help you learn how to read music if you don’t already.
The Devon Youth Folk Ensemble is led by Jon Dyer
How to join
The Devon Youth Folk Ensemble is open to new members between September and December each year. You can contact us now to express an interest in joining.
The Devon Youth Folk Ensemble meets for monthly in-person rehearsals from September to July. A weekend residential occurs in the summer term, and the whole year is supported with online resources.
Monthly rehearsals on Sundays:
Theatre Alibi, Emmanuel Hall, Exeter EX4 1EJ
- 2023: 24 Sep, 15 Oct, 19 Nov, 10 Dec
- 2024: 21 Jan, 18 Feb (at Exeter Phoenix), 17 Mar, 21 Apr, 19 May, 16 Jun
- 10am – 4pm (bring a packed lunch)
Residential 2024: Fri 19 – Sun 21 July
In July, the Wren Music leaders host a weekend residential in Devon. All members attend and we work collaboratively over full days to prepare for summer performances. The residential sees the group playing, learning, and eating together.
Residentials run from Friday after school to Sunday afternoon.
Performances will take place over July and August. We will secure the ensemble gigs at folk festivals and other events during the summer months. Members are welcome to suggest events they may like to perform at.
There may be other performance opportunities at other times of the year such as seasonal shows.
The Devon Youth Folk Ensemble will perform at public events and we want to showcase the best you can be. Therefore, we expect each member to commit to attending rehearsals as well as practising in their own time between rehearsals. This will develop your skills and strength for playing faster and more accurately.
If you know you’ll miss a rehearsal, let the music leaders know with as much notice as possible. Ensemble members are expected to attend pre-arranged gigs and performances in the summer months (July and August). Dates are released to the ensemble as soon as they are confirmed.
We understand that things can change and if at any time you would like to step away from the ensemble, or feel unable to commit to the rehearsal schedule, you simply need to let us know. The group is welcoming, encouraging, respectful and there are no silly questions.
Wren Music is committed to inclusivity and encourages young people from all backgrounds. If costs may present a barrier to a young person taking part in the ensemble please don’t hesitate to contact us and we’ll do what we can to help. A full year’s membership of the Devon Youth Folk Ensemble is £150. There will be an additional contribution for the residential weekend of around £50.
Join the Ensemble
To join the Devon Youth Folk Ensemble, contact us with your name and age and what instrument you play.
The Devon Youth Folk Ensemble is supported, in part, by Devon and Torbay Music Education Hub.