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At the heart of English folk
National Youth Folk Ensemble

Join the National Youth Folk Ensemble

Start your application for our 2018–19 Ensemble by attending a Sampler Day

We are looking 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  

Our Sampler Days in May/June 2018 are the first stage of the audition process and they are free to attend. They are a chance to take part in creative group workshops with inspiring tutors, learn about English folk music, and play with young musicians from your region! 

Following the Sampler Days, selected musicians will be invited to attend a final audition and interview in London on 23 or 24 June 2018.

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

Register for your free place at a Sampler Day

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 2018
  • live in England
  • be able to play confidently on your chosen instrument
  • be available to attend a final audition in London on 23 and 24 June 2018
  • be able to attend 4 weeks of residential courses in the school holidays (October 2018, February, Easter, and summer 2019)


What is the audition process?

The first stage is to attend a Sampler Day, where you will take part in group workshops and have a short individual audition.  For your individual audition be prepared to introduce and play a solo piece for 2.5 minutes that best demonstrates your instrumental skills. The piece must be played by ear and be traditional or in a traditional style.

Following the Sampler Days, selected musicians will be invited to attend a final audition, interview, and group workshop in London on 23 or 24 June 2018.

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

We will invite players to join the Ensemble by 17 August 2018. 


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