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At the heart of English folk



Essex Folk Song Discovery


In 2016, the English Folk Dance and Song Society (EFDSS) was commissioned to deliver the Essex Folk Song Discovery Project by Essex Music Education Hub in seven schools in the Uttlesford region of north west Essex. The project was developed to support the vocal strategy for school children in Key Stages 2 and 3 across the region, by sourcing and re-introducing some traditional local folk songs.

Professional folk artists, Aimée Leonard and Nick Hart, sourced appropriate songs, collected in Essex in the 19th and early 20th centuries, and arranged them for young voices. They visited each participating school for two sessions, teaching a different song in each setting, three hundred and fifty students came together at Saffron Hall to share their songs for a fantastic final performance.

This pack contains the arrangements of eleven folk songs collected from Essex. 

Ceilidh Band Project

Ceilidh Band Project


The arrangements and dances in this resource were taken from Camden Music Service’s Wider Opportunities (First Access Instrumental) Ceilidh Project which has run over the past few years in association with the English Folk Dance and Song Society. The project provides an opportunity for children to learn ceilidh tunes and the dances that go with them. During the project they are involved as musicians (playing to accompany other children dancing) and as dancers (dancing whilst other children are playing). 


Twas in the Good Ship Rover


Sea Songs and Shanties for Tall Ships



In the run-up to the Rendez-Vouz Tall Ships Regatta 2017, the Royal Borough of Greenwich supported schools and groups in the borough to participate in a range of linked activities. The Tall Ships come regularly to the Royal Borough of Greenwich, with many tall ships sailing the Thames. Tall Ships Festivals celebrate sailing ships and mark the start or finish of a huge race to international destinations across the oceans. Tall Ships are large, traditionally rigged sailing ships. There are many styles of tall ship with different numbers of masts and shapes of sail. For hundreds of years tall ships carried people and goods across the seas and around the world, serving as the quickest form of transportation.

The oceans and stories of journeys and battles or adventure on the water have inspired many songs. This booklet focuses on songs and shanties that can be learnt and sung by adults, families and children alike. Many of the songs featured in the musical celebrations at the Rendez-Vous Tall Ships Festival in the Royal Borough of Greenwich in April 2017.

Donkey Riding

Donkey Riding, a traditional work song, was sung by sailors of Celtic and English origin as they loaded timber on the decks of ships in the Canadian harbors of Québec and Miramichi.

When loaded, the ships sailed away to London, England; Fortune Bay in Newfoundland; or even around the Cape Horn of South America.

“Riding the Donkey” refers to sailors' work on the ship's deck using a donkey engine.

A donkey engine is a single-cylinder steam engine invented in 1881, which revolutionized logging and the loading of ships. The donkey engine was first used in the forests of California but was soon used widely in loading ships for transport.

In singing “Donkey Riding,” use a heavy, swinging beat and a natural, robust vocal sound. The whispered quarter-note rhythms imitate the sound of the steam-powered, single-cylinder donkey engine.