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At the heart of English folk
National Youth Folk Ensemble

Join the National Youth Folk Ensemble

Each year we will look for excellent instrumentalists aged 14-18 who are dedicated to developing as folk musicians and excited about collaborating with others who share their passion!

Everyone in the Ensemble will experience:

  • four weeks of intensive residential courses in different parts of England
  • expert, dedicated tuition and guidance from leading folk musicians
  • focussed development of skills in performance, arrangement and leadership 
  • high-profile performances at major festivals and venues around England


Membership is a one-year commitment from October to August. The residential courses take place in the school holidays: October, February, Easter and summer.  

Application process  

Applications will open in early 2020 for the 2020-21 National Youth Folk Ensemble.

Our Sampler Days are the first stage of the audition process and they are free to attend. You will take part in creative group workshops and have a short individual audition. 

Following the Sampler Days, selected musicians will be invited to attend a final audition and interview in London.

Current Ensemble members who wish to re-apply will also attend a final audition. 

Young musicians who don’t wish to audition for the Ensemble are welcome to take part in the Sampler Days to find out about the project. 

Who can apply for the National Youth Folk Ensemble?

The National Youth Folk Ensemble is open to players of any instrument, but we are not looking for singers. 

To apply for a place in the Ensemble you will need to:

  • be aged 14-18 on 1 September of the year you apply
  • live in England
  • be able to play confidently on your chosen instrument
  • be available to attend a final audition in London 
  • be available to commit to 4 weeks of residential courses in the school holidays (October, February, Easter, and summer)


How does the National Youth Folk Ensemble select members?

In the Sampler Days, final auditions and interview, we look at instrumental technique, musicality, ensemble skills, and attitude.

We are looking for musicians who demonstrate:

  • Confidence, accuracy and skill on their chosen instrument
  • Interest in folk music 
  • Ability to learn and play music by ear
  • Folk character and style from any tradition
  • Passion for playing and collaborating with others
  • Interest in developing arrangements and creating music collaboratively
  • Commitment to learning and developing as a musician
  • Open-mindedness and willingness to share ideas  


We also take into account a balance of instruments, gender and geographic spread.


Fees and financial support 

There are no audition fees and we can help with travel costs to and from the audition venue.

Membership of the National Youth Folk Ensemble costs £400 for the year.

We want everyone who is offered a place in the Ensemble to be able to take it up and we are able to offer financial support if the fee or travel costs are unaffordable.

Contact Sarah Jones on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more information about financial aid.




If you have any questions please contact Sarah Jones, Programme Manager for the National Youth Folk Ensemble: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Arts Council England


National Youth Folk Ensemble on Instagram

See highlights from the Ensemble's residential courses and performances