Virtual Ceilidh Calling Workshop

Here’s a review of a workshop for ceilidh callers, about adjusting to the new norm – the Zoom ceilidh.  It was hosted by two top ceilidh callers – Fee Lock from Sussex and Martyn Harvey from Cumbria – and attended by over 30 ceilidh callers and band members from across the UK.

“Between them, Martyn Harvey and Fee Lock gave a brilliantly comprehensive overview, a masterclass on ceilidh calling in ‘real life’ and also looking at all the aspects of putting your ceilidh calling online. This latter section included tips on how to make the audience feel connected from their living rooms (lots of chat about cuddly toys!), technical information on sound and mixing, and how to deal with the obvious problem of the band being in a different house to the caller.

Martyn Harvey ceilidh calling workshop
Martyn Harvey

“There were some great examples of ‘how not to do it’ (thanks for your honesty about one particular evening you’d probably rather not remember, Martyn!) and some really good advice on how to liaise with the band to ensure that there aren’t any surprises from either side (great advice included asking the band which are their favourite tunes and their favourite sets and making sure you include dances that let them play those sets).

“It was obvious that the speakers had between them decades of experience, and they generously shared it with to us over the three hours of the session, with plenty of time to respond to questions and comments in the chat.

“The 30 or so of us in the audience ranged from experienced callers and musicians to morris dancers who were just starting off in thinking about ceilidhs.

“Beautifully chaired by Pauline Woods-Wilson, the event allowed input from several of the audience who were able to share their experience of online ceilidhs since the pandemic.

Fee Lock ceilidh calling workshop
Fee Lock

“Finishing with advice on contracts, tax, and gender-neutral calling including thinking about the LGBTQ+ demographic (so a very mixed bag of info!).  Fee was a calm, knowledgeable voice – and Martyn was a fun, fact-filled presenter for the first part of the event – and it was a pleasure to attend the afternoon.  Thanks so much to the Morris Federation for organising it.

by Fiona Frank, founder of Oxfolk Ceilidhs and former member of Bath City Morris, Rogue Morris, Bollin Morris, and Ribble Rabble.  

Donations from workshop participants raised money for Hastings Traditional Jack in the Green (may day festival) and the Great North Air Ambulance.

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