Laurel Swift 

Musician, Composer, Dancer, Project Maker

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Tunewriting Retreat with Laurel Swift

Thurlby, Lincolnshire

16th - 18th June 2017

This dynamic, engaging and unusual weekend retreat focuses on new music inspired by the folk arts. Hosted by Laurel Swift, this is, as ever, a weekend of inspiring classes, homecooked food, informal sessions and country walks.


Ever fancied writing your own folk tune? Or equpping yourself with the skills to create harmomies, riffs and new music? This course gives you the chance to learn how to make your own! Practical sessions exploring writing techniques, relevant music theory and  opportunities to explore and play music written by Laurel. We will think in depth about the structure, form and function of melodies, rhythm, harmonies, and arrangements.  There will be plenty of opportunity to play informally, make new friends and discover a new part of the country with winding woodland walks.


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 use a mixture of working by ear and with notation. People familar with both or eiter welcome! 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 – We will start by looking at some great tunes - why they're good, what's interesting about them. We'll then uncover the importnace of rhythm in folk music and how that applies to writing new melodies and melodic lines of any kind. Group and indiivdual exercises that explore the writing process and will start to get the creative flow flowing!


Saturday Afternoon – A session on the relevance of chord and harmonic structure to tune writing and riff / harmony writing. Discover the power of a single note change! Optional intensive class or 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 – This is the magic moment when the tips, techniques and ideas we have been exploring and tunes start appearing seemingly out of nowhere!  We will piece together our creative work and play it through.  


We leave the hostel after lunch.  If you’re in no rush to get home, there are plenty more walks on The Fens and nearby Rutland Water, one of the most important areas for bird life in Great Britain.


YHA Thurlby is a 15th century former village forge with a lovely lawned garden and orchard. It is located in a peaceful spot in the centre of an unspoilt Lincolnshire village. The homely former forge is full of character and has both Victorian and Georgian additions to the building - perfect for history buffs!  It has 18 beds in dorm rooms. The cosy lounge has a television, plus various books and games and there is also a quiet reading area to get some peace and quiet after your day. There is a large car park adjacent to the hostel for those travelling by car & a bus from Peterborough 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 16 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 Tunewriting Retreat at Thurlby.


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

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