Folk Arts Oxford aims to promote folk and traditional dance, music and song in the Oxfordshire region. In particular we are interested in improving access for those who might face barriers to participation in the arts.

Through our funded project work: children in Headington have learned about local lad William Kimber, and the musical legacy he has left; a new band called Iris has been formed, who accompany all their songs with Makaton signing; children from mainstream and special schools in Oxfordshire have the chance to create music together, and perform on the main stage at Folk Weekend: Oxford.

Alongside our own projects and events, FAO works collaboratively with other local organisations, forging links and creating opportunities for folk artists to work in education and community projects, as well as showcase their talent in local events. 

We've been in Windmill School all of this week, doing workshops with a group of thirteen children from Year 4. It's been great to have so much time to work on different things, and today the children did a 20 minute performance of everything they've been doing for the rest of their classmates, and to the children from a local nursery school.

We started off the week by telling the children a little bit about William Kimber, and his life. The children all watched the Music in the Family film, and they made notes on things they found interesting. After they'd watched the film the children split in to groups, and each group then decided what they'd like to find out more about, and how they were going to present their findings at the end of the week.

One group decided to focus on the music; they spent an afternoon listening to recordings of Kimber playing Morris tunes, and picked their favourite which they then learned to play. They also researched some history around the tune, and looked up the original manuscript from the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library. Click here to watch their presentation and performance.

Another group chose to write a story about Kimber to read to the nursery children. They typed it all up and gave them a copy after the performance. They also made up a dance and drew some pictures to illustrate their story. Click here to listen to their story.

Another group decided to focus on dancing, so spent some time watching videos of different morris dance styles, and then made up a dance of their own using some of the steps they had seen in the videos. Click here to watch a video of them practising the dance!

The final group chose to make a timeline of important dates in Kimber's life - they were shocked to discover he had left school when he was nine, as that is the age that they all are at the moment. One of the children in this group was a talented artist, and she drew a large picture of Kimber. They also decided to learn a morris tune together. Click here to watch them practising.

During the week the children also did a variety of other activities, including having a mini-melodeon lesson(!) and exploring some of the Kimber landmarks in the local area.

Here we are visiting Kimber's grave (above) and outside the house he was born in (below).