Royal Traditions

  • 26 Oct MATT QUINN
Royal Traditions was started by Fay Hield and Jon Boden in February 2009. Our aim was to keep singing at the Royal Hotel, famous for...




Soundpost Singing Weekend: The Fairy Gathering

Dungworth, Sheffield

16 Mar 19

Soundpost Singing Weekend: The Fairy Gathering Workshops

We are excited to announce our workshops for the upcoming Singing Weekend in May. Have a read and see if something takes your fancy! You can book your tickets now by following the link below:


Big Ballad Editing:

Fay Hield

Join Fay as she talks you through the process of turning the 6000-word Middle English story of Sir Launfal into a song to be sung. She will explore how she used ideas of content and themes, emotion and meaning, language and personalisation and of course slash and burn to whittle it into shape. You will have the chance to practice your newfound skills on a text during the session so feel free to bring along a long song you want to make your own, or you can use the materials Fay will provide.

Big Fairy Sing!:

Frances Watt

Exactly what it says on the tin - join Frances for a chance to air those lungs and come together to sing through some otherworldly group songs in harmony with each other and the little people. The sound we will make together will be magical and inspire you for the rest of the day. Just bring your selves, your lungs and your smiles.

Writing tunes for texts:

Fay Hield

Lots of song collectors were fascinated by folk song texts but didn’t bring the tunes with them, meaning there are a mass of words out there awaiting to be sung. Fay will describe her process of making new tunes for existing texts to bring them back into performance. Bring along any words you particularly like, or use the materials Fay will have to hand and have a go at writing your own tune to make a new song version that is truly yours.

Where fairies come from:

Carolyne Larrington

Hear about the different kinds of tales, songs and ballads that feature fairies and the fairy-world in British tradition and learn of some sources where you can find little-known stories. Carolyne invites you to think about the big questions that these stories ask – and answer. She'll also talk about some modern novels, stories and tv or film adaptations in which fairies and fairy-lore appear. We'll see how fairies have changed and shrunk over the centuries, and how they are reclaiming their original power and significance once more.

Songs on a theme:

Ben Nicholls

Often as musicians we want to pull together groups of songs which are thematically linked or even just find a song which is related to a particular place, event or topic. In this group, we’ll looking into methods for researching and finding songs which share a theme. The group will decide on a fairy related subject and see what can be found in terms of traditional songs and material out there in online archives. Participants are advised to bring laptop/tablet

Singing together turning the mundane into magic:

Lucy Farrell

There is something magical about a hoard singing together, so join in and create a new sound to call the otherworld. This group singing session with Lucy will focus on building techniques and range to find the spark in your own voice, and work through singing together to build confidence and skill to create real magic.

Fairies, fact and fiction:

Ben Nicholls

Using examples from Ben’s research into fairies in the RAF during WW2 for the Modern Fairies project, we’ll look into the origins of these stories and their use in propaganda of the time. It’s an interesting area as many of the references are widely available and within living memory, unlike the origins of many fairy stories and so perhaps can give us a glimpse of how a fairy story can originate. Participants will be invited to discuss their attitudes to the reality of fairies and how that impacts upon using fairy material.

What do you need to know?

Ben Nicholls, Fay Hield, Steven Hadley, Ewan McPherson

Join a panel of the artists as they ask how important the background of a song is to an audience or a performer. Should songs stand on their own feet or do they need provenance? What do audiences gain from knowing a songs background? How should that background be presented to best effect? Does knowing a songs background make a difference to a performer and how? You will be invited to ask questions and put in your twopenneth as well.

Releasing the Selkie

Terri Windling, Lucy Farrell, Fay Hield

Selkies are a magical being, sometimes seal sometimes human. In some stories one can get trapped on the land, unable to return to sea. Through this session, the group will write a cante fable with Lucy, Fay and Terri. We will explore the story of the selkie through words, pictures and discussion, then develop a storyboard and split into smaller groups to create the mythical beast. Come with imagination and excitement – confidence and skills will be provided.

Why do you like what you like?

Steven Hadley

How does a concert become more or less enjoyable for you as an audience member? Is your enjoyment the same as mine? This session invites you to think about last night’s concert and share your thoughts on what was (and wasn’t) meaningful, enjoyable, life affirming or interesting. A great opportunity to share, listen and learn from each other about what we all find interesting about this music and how it is performed.

Fairies, Loss, and the Environment:

Ewan McPherson & Terri Windling

In the 1800s, Alexander Carmichael took a trip to the Scottish Highlands and the postmaster showed him where the fairies used to live and explained why they left when the “big sheep” and the railway came. Though they have been gone some time, we still have a natural sense that some places are more magical, and closer to fairy than others. Join Ewan and Terri in a discussion to explore fairies as an analogy for mankind’s loss of connection to nature and wild places. Add your voice and see if we can find any answers or solutions.

Bringing fairyland to life:

Ewan McPherson & Andy Bell?

The Modern Fairies Project has been fascinating. During the first two sessions, our minds were filled with hundreds of ideas, sparking off creative discussions and grand dreams of great works. How did we trim down these ideas to realise our project? In this world of big budget, blockbusters and ground shaking experiences, how can we make an artistic point without a huge budget and a team of hundreds? Hear about how our minds exploded and what happened next and generate ideas for organising your own artistic adventures.

Source to Song:

Marry Waterson & Ewan McPherson

Join Ewan as he probes Marry and they discus the journey of a song; from source material; be that a story, something in the news, an image, a memory, anything which provides the spark to create a song to the end product. How do you choose the poignant elements from a story? How do you forge the material once it’s been selected? Is it possible to define the point where the magic starts to happen? This workshop is not about the technical elements used to create a song, instead it provides a unique look into the instinctive, dark and secret art of a master songwriter.

Unique ways to play your instrument:

Barney Morse Brown

Join Barney on a sonic exploration to discover new and intriguing ways to play your chosen instrument. As a session musician, improviser, composer and performer, Barney has a wealth of knowledge and experience in exploring the possibilities of the cello and is keen to support other musicians on their own exploitative musical journeys. Starting from understanding the structure and sonic qualities of a single note, Barney will help you to unwrap new textures and sounds and encourage you on your journey through improvisation, regardless of your own experience.

Song writing together:

Barney Morse Brown & Marry Waterson

Through the world of fairies, Barney and Marry worked closely gaining a deeper understanding of the shared writing process, working to a brief, setting words to music and exploring the many ways these things can be done. This is your opportunity to work with these intriguing musicians whether you have song ideas, words or music or whether you come just with an interest in song writing. Working closely with you, offering ideas, helping form your own musical brief, being on hand to help with arrangements, you are sure to head home with a wealth of ideas and suggestions for your journey into song writing.

Creating musical landscapes:

Barney Morse Brown

Being closely associated with the human voice, the cello's natural ability to connect on a deep emotional level lends itself perfectly to creating emotive lines, taking the listener to the core of their emotions. Learning to strip away everything and revealing the foundation of all musical structure can be a daunting process. Working alongside Barney you will take steps to discover what is at the heart of your instrument and through this discovery, learn the techniques and ear training to place the first few building blocks to create your own musical landscapes. Improvisation need not be a scary word, let's explore!

Inspiring starting points:

Marry Waterson

How do you find something to write about? Marry will talk about the starting points and inspiration behind her own songs, from inscriptions on headstones, Aesop’s Fables and Japanese superstitions. You will then be invited to go into the wilds of Dungworth to find your own inspiration and come back to share with Marry and the group the ideas you have and all talk about how they might be developed. You will leave this session with a deeper insight into how to go about starting songs and sowing the seeds for your own compositions.

18 Feb 19

Soundpost Singing Weekend: The Fairy Gathering

We’re getting really excited about our next Singing Weekend in May and hope you can be there! Tickets are available here!


We have some fantastic artists joining us. Here’s a bit more about them...

Fay Hield

Fay makes new music from archival sources, weaving the old into new words and sounds that resonate with the people and places she encounters. She has toured and recorded with various BBC Radio 2 Folk Award winning projects, including curating The Full English Band and her own group, The Hurricane Party. Her research at The University of Sheffield looks at the English folk scene to discover how it builds a sense of community, how artists play with traditional materials and how audiences receive them.

Lucy Farrell

Lucy has been a member of several highly acclaimed bands including Eliza Carthy’s Big Machine and The Furrow Collective. An inveterate collaborator, many have been entranced by Lucy’s haunting and quintessentially English voice, subtle and instinctive musicianship and her ability to connect emotionally with an audience. Lucy works with ballads that inspire her own compositions, but in their own handed-down beauty and strangeness tell fantastical stories beyond our imaginations.

Ben Nicholls

Ben is a double bass player and multi-instrumental musician whose work crosses many genres. He has performed and recorded in studios and stages across the world. As a singer and instrumentalist he is known for his work with the Full English and also as a co-writer on the Mercury Music Prize nominated Nadine Shah album ‘Holiday Destination’, as well as featuring on many TV shows, films and adverts. He has also released several albums with his own bands Kings of The South Seas, Dennis Hopper Choppers and Menlo Park.

Ewan MacPherson

Now based in the Highlands Ewan has worked as a multi-instrumentalist in the vibrant Scottish scene for 20 years. Ewan is a member of Shooglenifty and Salt House, and has taken stages around the world with a wide range of traditional and contemporary folk/roots artists. Liverpool born with family ties to Scotland, Ireland and Wales, Ewan completed a BA at Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts and was later nominated for Instrumentalist of the Year at the 2014 MG Alba Trad Music Awards.

Terri Windling

Terri is an American editor, artist, essayist, and the author of award winning books for children and adults. One of the primary creative forces behind the 1980s mythic fiction resurgence Terri is recognized as one of the founders of the urban fantasy genre, having published the first novels of Charles de Lint, Emma Bull, and other pioneers of the form. As an author, Terri’s fiction includes The Wood Wife and several children's books. As an artist, Terri’s work is inspired by myth, folklore, and fairy tales. Her art has been exhibited across the US, as well as in the UK and France.

Marry Waterson

Part of the Waterson family musical dynasty, Marry has thrived on communal music making while developing highly original and distinctly English performance styles of her own. Words appear, phrased in a way that suggests music. With melody comes rhythm, her interior playground is a place where real life is refracted through the myths, legends and proverbs that shape the “folk memory”. Inscriptions on headstones; Aesop’s Fables; Japanese superstitions – all have their part to play. Three time BBC Radio 2 Folk Award nominee, Marry has released four albums on the One Little Indian label and has worked with many stellar musicians including Jarvis Cocker, Richard Hawley and Portishead's Adrian Utley.

Barney Morse-Brown

Duotone (the alias of multi-instrumentalist, songwriter and live looper Barney Morse-Brown) is an alchemist, weaving a plethora of instruments including his pioneering and unconventional cello playing and masterful use of a looper for his gentle vocals, into a blanket of intimacy. Barney learnt the cello age six, he went on to study at Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama and to win a scholarship in baroque cello at the Royal College of Music. Barney has since worked with many high-profile musicians including Maya Youssef, The Imagined Village and multi-platinum award-winning artist Birdy, with whom he toured all over the world.

03 Dec 18

Sheffield Carol Event @ The Winter Garden Saturday 8th Dec

We’ll be in the Winter Garden this Saturday to celebrate the festive season with performances from our Folk Factory Groups, Dungworth Community Choir, singing sessions led by Manny Grimsley and accompanied by Simon Dumpleton and much more! With free Carol booklets, there’s no excuse not to get involved! Check out the schedule for the day and pop along!

21 Nov 18

Soundpost Singing Weekend: The Fairy Gathering

We are really excited to announce that tickets are now on sale for our next Soundpost Singing Weekend. We have been busy planning an exciting weekend for you, packed with practical workshops, Singing sessions, talks and much more. To find out more head over to our event page and book your tickets now!


You can also explore more about the Modern Fairies project at http://www.modernfairies.co.uk/ and read up on some of the artists who will be joining us and their work exploring the fascinating fairy world.

Hope you can join us for what promises to be a fantastic weekend!

13 Jun 18

Singing our socks off!

We’ve had a gloriously sunny weekend in the valley with Bryony Griffith and her team of talented musicians. From big sings with Paul Sartin to Gypsy wagon painting with Nick Dow, our Wanton Seed Singing Weekend offered a huge range of workshops, talks and practical sessions. For those instrumentalists amongst us there was a chance to enjoy tips from local guitar wizard Jack Rutter, secrets to arranging from the delightful Askew sisters and fiddle singing methods with Jackie Oates. And of course we sang our socks off all weekend! Saturday evening was a chance for punters to relax and enjoy performances from all our tutors, helping them along with a chorus or two of course. With pints in hand we trouped up the road to finish the evening with songs and tunes at our favourite pub, The Royal Hotel! Thanks to all the artists, stewards and participants! We all had a fantastic weekend and hope you did too! Join us in April for more Soundpost fun at our Fairy Gathering. More info coming soon...


The Soundpost Team x

09 Jun 18

Big Singing at The Wanton Seed Singing Weekend!

And we're off! The sun is out. There's blue sky peeping through the clouds, and The Wanton Seed Singing Weekend's Big Sing started at 10am this morning with Bryony Griffith leading over 50 singers through The Shoemaker's Kiss! It sounds glorious!

25 Feb 18

Folk Factory Update!

Our Folk Factory clubs have had a busy start to 2018 with performances, workshops, song commissions and much more! The year began with a wonderful song commission written especially for our Soundpost Folk Factory clubs by the fabulous Sean Cooney of the multi award winning Folk Trio, The Young’uns. Inspired by the gas powered lamp post on Brincliffe Edge Road in Nether Edge, Sean wrote this about his song: 

“Dear Folk Factory, I’ve written you a song about a lamp post! I never thought I’d ever write a song about a lamp post. But this is a special lamp post. It’s never gone out in over one hundred years. That’s because it’s not powered by electricity, it’s powered by gas that comes straight out of the sewer. It’s on Brincliffe Edge Road in Nether Edge near Chelsea Park, high up on a hill looking down over Sheffield.

In Victorian times the foul smells and explosive gas that seeped out of Sheffield’s poor sewers was a huge problem so Joseph Webb from Birmingham invented the Sewer Gas Destructor Lamp to turn the gas into light and 84 of them were put up across Sheffield. There’s only a few left now.”

We are looking forward to performances later in the year of Sean’s song and hope that you enjoy it as much as The Folk Factory have enjoyed learning it! 

Following our new song commission, Sean joined Carfield and Dungworth clubs for a workshop session on creative song writing. The Folk Factory had a fantastic, inspiring evening working with Sean and we can’t wait to share some of our new songs in our upcoming performances. 

February also saw our first Folk Factory Music for Youth Performance. After weeks of hard work, Nicola and Robyn set off with our Dungworth club to Hope Valley College for an unforgettable performance at the Festival’s Regional round. Our club director, Nicola Beazley, said about the day:

“We had a fantastic day at Music for Youth and really enjoyed playing on such a big stage. We were the youngest band there and played without our music, and got a great round of applause at the end. We also had great fun hanging out together, and are chuffed to bits with our certificate which will hang on the village hall wall."

The fun doesn’t end here, we have huge plans for our clubs this year including a performance at DERT on March 24th in Sheffield Cathedral, workshops with Greg Russell, Tom Chapman, Sheffield Steel and much more!

If you are interested in joining one of our clubs, contact Nicola Beazley on nicola@soundpost.org.uk. Or, if you’ve been inspired by our children’s workshops, check out our next adult workshop weekend, The Wanton Seed in June!

11 Jan 18

Carolling Away!

December was a busy month for Soundpost featuring some of our favourite projects of the year. We had a wonderful day at The Winter Gardens with performances from community choirs, brass bands, folk factory groups and many local singers. All the groups came together with renditions of their favourite local Carols and we really raised the roof, drawing in passers by, young and old, seasoned carollers and those who were completely new to the tradition. A week later, those hardy carollers, joined the fantastic Professor Ian Russell and friends for a workshop day, braving the winter weather in Underbank School Rooms and singing their hearts out. 

Not satisfied with two days of carolling, we took to Firth Hall on the 14th December for our Schools Carol project. We had the most fantastic workshop day in collaboration with Sheffield University and Sheffield Town Trust and the standard of singing from youngsters across Sheffield was truely inspiring. This year we had Greenhill Primary, Dore Primary, Oughtibridge Primary and Loxely Primary all participating in our project. The talented Bryony Griffith delivered workshops throughout November and we were joined by Bessemer Brass on the day to accompany our massed choir for a lunchtime performance as part of The University Concert Series. A packed out audience of parents, family and friends filled the hall with Christmas cheer as we listened to enthusiastic versions of some of our favourite Carols, aswell as performances by TUOS Folk. 

We hope you all enjoyed the festive season and look forward to seeing you at some of our Soundpost events this year. Happy New Year! 

21 Nov 17

Sheffield Carols at the Winter Garden

We are getting really excited about our Sheffield Carol day at The Winter Garden on 2nd December. We have exciting performances from local choirs, brass bands, folk groups and the wonderful talents of Manny Grimsley and Simon Dumpleton leading us in some 'Come and Sing' sessions throughout the day. 

Please pop along and get involved! Whether you know the Carols or just love a good sing, we look forward to welcoming you all as we bring in the festive season together. Check out our schedule for the day below:

11.00-11.30 Dungworth Community Choir

11.30-12.15 Come and Sing

12.15-12.45 Everyone’s Choir with Bessemer Brass

12.45-1.15 Come and Sing

1.15-1.45 Loxely Silver Band

1.45-2.15 Folk Factory

2.15-2.30 Come and Sing

2.30-3.00 Glee Bah Gum with Bessemer Brass

30 Oct 17

We've got a new website and a new look.

Have a look around, it's lovely.

09 Oct 17

Babies, Bubbles and Brummies

We sent fantastic Birmingham based Folk musicians Laura Carter (The Fair Rain) and Tom Lenthall to The Greystones last month for the first of our early years workshops in collaboration with the wonderful Concerteenies series. 

The event saw our specialist early years leaders singing folk songs and performing on the Recorder, Piano, Accordian and Ukuele. Two workshops were delivered to children aged 0-3 year olds, and children and parents had a fantastic time exploring rhythm, games, song and dance in a happy friendly environment. As if this wasn't exciting enough, this musical experience involved bubbles, parachutes and ribbon dancing! 

We are looking forward to working again with Polly from Concerteenies to organise future collaborative events but in the meantime if you have a little one, pop along to one of the Concerteenies events and start your baby's musical journey! 

Saturday 28th October 

Concerteenies: Guild of Strings @ Greystones Backroom 

Wednesday 1st November 

Concerteenies: Daisy Daisy @ Yellow Arch 

Sunday 12th November 

Concerteenies: Harp @ Castleton