School Work

I regularly run Penny Whistle Workshops, Folk Bands in Schools, School Choirs, Music Curriculum lessons, No Fear Notation, and more. If what you are looking for isn’t described in details below then please contact me and we can discuss your requirements.

Penny Whistles
I’m currently teaching 120 year three and year four pupils in Blakelaw, Newcastle, to play the whistle. Each class of 30 gets a 45 minute lesson each week. This is whole class teaching with the teacher and other staff members present and taking part. Within these lessons we also cover the national curriculum for music looking at pulse and rhythm work, basic notation reading, and eventually some composition. My aim is always to empower and inspire the teaching staff in the school to carry on the projects after I leave. I provide resources for this to be able to happen. Whistles are great for year threes through to year nines, and beyond.

  • After one term I would expect the pupils to have basic control of the instrument, be able to create a consistent sound, be able to play D to B using six fingers, and have up to 5 short tunes in their repertoire. I also except them to be able to keep the pulse, know the difference between pulse and rhythm, and to dance a number of ceilidh dances.
  • After two terms I would expect the children to be able to play all standard fingering notes with some second octave use, low D to high G. I would expect medium control of the instrument, to be able to identify different tune types, to be able to dance a number of ceilidh dances and to be able to read crotchets, quavers, minims and semibreves in a range of time signatures.
  • After three terms I would expect a reasonable grasp of the instrument with the ability to play all standard fingering notes from low D to high B. A basic knowledge of folk and traditional music, an ability to play at least one Northumbrian, English, Scottish, Irish, French tune. To be able to read semi-complex rhythms in a range of time signatures, and to be able to compose their own basic melodies using their written knowledge of notation and practical knowledge of the whistle. The children will also have a basic understanding of musical physics.

If I’m to work an afternoon in your school then it’s really fun to look at setting up Penny Whistle Lunch Club before the afternoon begins properly. The children who are super enthused have the opportunity to learn additional tunes and skills.

No Fear Notation & Music Curriculum Coverage
When I was younger I attended a seminar around music notation and making it more accessible. I have tried repeatedly to find out who presented the seminar as it has led me to develop my own method of teaching notation.

I know many schools struggle with the music curriculum because the training time allotted for music in compulsory teaching courses is tiny, there is so many other things to fit in too. My schools work is best when I work alongside the teaching staff, my dream is to help all teachers feel comfortable enough with music that they can teach it happily for themselves. I can and do cover PPA time too, please get in touch to discuss your requirements.

I believe that reading musical notation can be easy. Its a very simple language that is completely accessible once you know the rules. My method is quick, simple, and fear free! It involves the participants standing up, moving around, clapping, speaking, and succeeding. I’ve had teachers talk to me after training sessions and tell me that I have counteracted twenty years of fear around notation in one 60 minute session.


  • Within one hour anyone aged 6+ will be able to read basic notation, up to four note values in one or two time signatures.
  • within two hours I would expect them to be able to recall, reuse, and compose with those four note values and up three time signatures

No fear notation is a great vehicle for teaching the music curriculum and it empowers and up-skills teachers in the process. Pulse, rhythm, composition are all standard within this small teaching component of good music education, I would usually team this with singing and ceilidh dancing to complete a holistic music education package.
Folk Bands in School
If you have some instrumental players in your school, and some enthusiasm, then we can create an amazing school folk band. Folk bands are very different to expected school orchestras and the like because we will predominantly work by ear and include lots of aural training. The young people (primary or secondary) will learn about traditional music, composition and arrangement – as well as developing the skills needed to try their own ideas out, performance skills, and the pure joy of making music with other people. This is one of my all time favourite type of projects to run so please do get in touch.


Schools Workshops
My standard half day school rate includes up to three hours of teaching, all preparation, basic resources, and travel within Tyne and Wear and Northumberland. An hourly rate can be negotiated if I’m already in the area, and long-term projects also qualify for a discount. Please do get in touch to discuss your requirements.

Please note, while I have my PTLLS certificate I do not hold QTS.


me folkjam
Photo: Mark Savage