Tom Arthur, MSP for Renfrewshire South met with Neil Wood, Founder and Director of The Folks’ Music Project last week to discuss the project’s plans and some of the challenges currently faced by community music programmes.

The organisation provides affordable, accessible and good quality music tuition and activities using traditional instruments, for everyone, regardless of age or ability.

In Autumn 2021 the Folks’ Music Project began a 16-week programme of group traditional music classes. Following unexpected levels of demand, they saw 9 group classes per week for both adults and young people in harp, fiddle and guitar, held at the Neilston Development Trust’s space The Bank – in the heart of the village of Neilston.

These classes were aimed at complete beginners with no previous musical experience required and thanks to their partner organisations, musical instruments were provided for all participants with tuition offered on a pay-what-you-can basis.

Across the programme they had 50 participants attending, with ages ranging from early primary school to senior citizens, in fact, three generations of several families are in regular attendance. In addition to these classes, they also facilitate a monthly traditional music jam session in the village where a group of our tutors support local musicians to share, play and perform traditional music together in an informal and sociable setting with everyone welcome to come along and join-in or just simply listen.

Following the meeting, SNP man Tom Arthur said: “Music and musicians are very close to my heart as this is what I did prior to being elected. It was fantastic to catch up with Neil about The Folks’ Music Project’s aims and achievements.

“At a time when the cost of living is rising exponentially, and social isolation is of particular concern, grassroots movements like The Folks’ Music Project are a vital resource that must be supported. Music breaks down barriers and can unite people from all sectors of society, no matter your background or life experiences.”

Neil Wood added: “The project is fully funded by the Neilston Windfarm Legacy fund who have been tremendously supportive and flexible, given the complexity and uncertainty of the pandemic during this period. Thanks to the fantastic support of NWL and NDT as well as our participants and tutors we were able to mitigate the risk of the spread of COVID-19 through adhering to our own and the Scottish government’s protocol and guidelines.

“We were regularly challenged with absences and cancelation due to fluctuating case rates in the community but there has been a tremendous kindness and understanding from all involved.”

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