Laurel Swift 

Musician, Composer, Dancer, Project Maker

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Autumn Folk Music Retreat

Minehead, Somerset

5th - 7th October, 2017

A dynamic yet relaxing weekend away for players of all instruments, focusing on improving ensemble skills for playing folk music in small and large groups. A chance to learn new tunes and explore the many options for what to do with them. Hosted by Laurel Swift, this is a weekend of inspiring classes, homecooked food, informal sessions and country walks. The retreat will be a great way to learn new tunes, make new friends and and discover a new part of the country with stunning views across Somerset.


All players are all welcome, whether new to folk music, seasoned folkies, or somewhere inbetween. The retreat is designed for a wide range of players. We will work predominantly by ear and assume that either you are confident at working by ear or you are of ‘intermediate standard’ or above on your instrument. Please get in touch if you’d like to discuss whether the course is suitable for you (if it sounds fun, then it probably is!).


Friday – Arrival from 4pm onwards. Hot meal around 8pm, and available throughout the evening for later arrivals. Introduction to the weekend and informal playing.  


Saturday Morning – Learn a tune and start explore the musical options available. Group exercises on rhythm and harmony that will help improve your listening, playing and confidence.


Saturday Afternoon – Another tune, new exercises in small groups, allowing you to try out the skills we’ve been exploring in the morning. Plus optional intensive class, and opportunities to explore the local area on foot or read a good book and relax.


Saturday Night – Time to play tunes, naturally! Dinner, drinks, board games, more tunes. There’ll be music, there’ll be laughter, the rest is up to you!


Sunday Morning – Another tune, more tips and techniques and a round up of everything we’ve done. We may even make a piece for a final performance together.  


We leave the hostel after lunch.  If you’re in no rush to get home, there are plenty more walks along the beer, on nearby Exmoor or the local medieval town of Dunster.


YHA Minehead is an attractive country house with large bay windows, stained glass panels and stripped timber floors. It sits high in the Exmoor Hills of Somerset in a secluded wood and is just two miles from sandy beaches.


There is a car park adjacent to the hostel for those travelling by car & the hostel is 1.5 miles from the station / pickups can be arranged.



(If you would prefer to stay at a local B&B please do! However, please note that the price of the retreat remains at £160 as we can still only accommodate the same number of students in class.)


All meals from Friday tea through to Sunday lunch will be provided, plus hot drinks anytime. We will be cooking as a group, which is an important part of the retreat experience! Everyone will be expected to participate in preparing or washing up one meal. Food will be basic but wholesome and tasty, and we should be able to cater for most allergies, etc. Feel free to discuss any concerns.



£160 for the full weekend,

including all meals and dormitory accommodation

(bunk-beds in single-sex rooms).

There are local B&Bs if you prefer (although we recommend the full immersive experience!)


£110 concessions* 

- please see further information for details of our concessions policy.


£50 deposit** now to reserve your place, with full payment due one month prior to the event.


Use the Paypal link to book your Folk Music Retreat at Street.


If you’d like to avoid charges, you can pay by BACS or cheque, CLICK HERE!


(Please note that Paypal's handling charge is 3.5% which will be displayed as a postage cost.)

* We are offering concessions in order to make this event as accessible as possible. The concession price is intended for people on low income for whatever reason - low pension, student loans, or un/low-waged. Please use your discretion! We don't want to exclude anyone from the retreat, but equally would ask you to pay the full price if you are able to.


** The remainder of the payment must be paid by BAC or by cheque no later than one month before event date. If the payment is late, the deposit and the reserved place will be lost. If you are having any problems with the final payment and would like to discuss please email