GFW: 25 years of trad music learning across Glasgow

In 1992, Dr Jo Miller gathered a few learners to teach Scottish fiddle by ear.  This was the start of Glasgow Fiddle Workshop (GFW) now Glasgow Folk-Music Workshop.  GFW now has a weekly membership of over 350 learners, a Board of volunteers who ensure our efficient day to day running (with the help of a part time administrator) and four senior tutors develop the curriculum and assign tutors to classes and events. Every Monday and Wednesday in Kelvin College, learners  participate in tutor led warm-up sessions, then attend classes taught by professional and semi-professional tutors- all highly experienced performers and educators. Many are award-winning musicians, well-known in the traditional world.

Over the last 25 years, the range of classes and instruments has grown along with the numbers coming along. As well as 8 levels of fiddle classes and  2 fiddle technique classes, we offer tuition in a wide range of other instruments at differentiated levels; Accordion, Banjo (4- and 5-string), Bodhran, Cello, Guitar, Mandolin, Ukulele and Whistle, Mixed Instrument classes and a Ceilidh Band Class.  Additionally, GFW offers classes for Juniors (ages 6-18) in Fiddle, Whistle and Guitar – and a Parents’ Class!

In recognition that pub sessions are often too challenging for early stage players, GFW has introduced tutor-supported sessions:  a bi-monthly Very Slow Session with a set repertoire of well-known standard tunes (available on our website); and for ever- improving players, a, tutor-supported pub session – the ‘Slow Jam,’  offering  a more challenging pace and an extended repertoire. The Islay Inn hosts a regular GFW pub session every Monday after classes.

GFW  also organises ceilidhs, concerts, Xmas events, Burns Supper etc for members.  As part of the GFW 25th anniversary celebrations, two fantastic ceilidhs and a successful  Learning Weekend (GFW  Extravaganza) centring  around the renowned  US fiddler and educator Jamie Laval were organised.

For many years we have maintained a significant presence at Celtic Connections, offering Come and Try events, the Big Slow Session and a very successful 2 day Ukulele School. During the West End Festival, GFW tutor bands feature at open air ceilidhs at Kelvingrove Art Galleries and elsewhere in Glasgow’s West End.

Our learners are incredibly enthusiastic and motivated, welcoming visitors from Europe and USA (we currently have Spanish and French members).  There are requests for more tuition at all levels and for instruction in other instruments like Clarsach.

GFW is a very successful, inclusive organisation promoting a convivial club atmosphere  with music and learning of Scottish traditional music at its core. This has been done by the sheer effort of our volunteers, in the absence of any secure funding from Creative Scotland. Here’s to the next 25 years!