The Summer School of the Workers' Music Association 21-27 August 2017

Ingestre Hall

A unique opportunity to indulge your musicality at a summer school that offers a wide variety of music styles from opera to folk, brass to jazz, orchestra to ceilidh, composition to choir.

The Seventy-First Annual WMA Summer School will be held at Ingestre Hall in Staffordshire.  You can see Ingestre Hall by visiting  Ingestre Hall is a residential centre for Performing Arts and is owned by Sandwell Council.  Set in beautiful surroundings, it is eight miles from Stafford and is easily accessible from the M6 motorway. The tutors from the 2016 Summer School have all agreed to return in 2017.


The WMA Summer School of Music is run as a mutual society. Our only aim is to provide a supportive and co- operative environment for all who attend, to allow each person to achieve their musical goal. Our experienced tutors give their time and expertise solely to help students find the satisfaction of discovering their potential and developing their skills.


The Bartered Bride - Opera 2016

The Ceilidh

Our Summer School

Founded on the same principles and aspirations as our parent organisation, the Workers' Music Association, the Summer School aims to bring together musicians and music lovers from all walks of life and all levels of achievement, to share and develop their musical interests and to discover and learn new ones. Everyone's contribution is valued and every form of good music is celebrated.


The School offers a full and varied range of courses and students are free to choose as many sessions as the timetable will allow for, making their week as intensive or as relaxed as they wish.

In addition to the daytime course sessions there is a busy programme of evening activities and social events.

There are ample opportunities for solo and ensemble performance, both in the evening concerts and more informally during coffee and tea breaks. Many students say that it's at the Summer School that they first find the confidence and encouragement to perform before an audience. However, no pressure is exerted to persuade anyone to sing or play as a soloist if they prefer the reassurance of staying within  the group.

Often enthusiasts for musical genres not included in the formal curriculum will form groups and practise together, usually after breakfast before the start of the official timetable. Some highly successful examples of these extra-curricular groups have included recorders, trad jazz, Klezmer music and the performance of pieces written by students in the Composition Course.

Aside from the musical experience, many students enjoy the morning yoga sessions led by Anna, our qualified yoga teacher.

A unique opportunity to indulge your musicality at a summer school that offers a wide variety of music styles from opera to folk, brass to jazz, orchestra to ceilidh, composition to choir.

Ingestre Main Stairs

 Sleeping Accomodation ranges from a very limited number of single rooms to twin rooms and rooms accomodating three, four and up to 10 people.

For students who prefer greater privacy it is possible to camp on the lawns adjacent to the Hall. The cost for this is the same as for accommodation in one of the larger shared rooms.


Ingestre Bedroom

Ingestre Bedroom


Single Room - £500

Twin/small shared with  - £470

Shared Room - £440

Camping - limited - £440

Day student  -  £220


Early bird discount of £20


Our Tutors


Maria Caravanas. (O, Q) LRAM GBSM. First came to the Summer School as a student in 1978. She then went to the Birmingham Conservatoire acquiring her singing qualifications in teaching and performing. She has sung professionally with the Ambrosian Chorus and with Opera Holland Park. She has performed solo recitals throughout the country. She believes "Singing is for everyone."


Julie Collins. (A,H)   Julie is a saxophonist who has been playing in various big bands around the Merseyside region, on and off for the last 25 years. She achieved a Diploma (ABRSM) in Saxophone performance in 2012 and since then has been studying jazz with pianist and MU Northern Regional  officer, Barry Dalman and more recently with Saxophonist Dave Gilbertson. Although Big bands are her main interest she also plays with the North Cheshire Wind Orchestra and Liverpool Hope University Concert Band , playing alto and baritone saxophone respectively. Julie is a long standing member of the Radical Liverpool band, the Peacemakers and with them has campaigned and raised funds for many grass roots causes over the last twenty odd years. As a day job she lectures in Science Education at Liverpool Hope University and is an active member of UCU


Denis Fleisch. (K) Formerly a student on the Jazz Course, Denis is stepping up to direct the 'Jazz from Scratch' course after a lifetime spent in education.


Marion Harper (G)    M.A folklore and Cultural Tradition. Singer. Started folk life by listening to LPs of The Ian Campbell Folk Group and Peter, Paul & Mary. I then joined the Grey Cock Folk Club, Birmingham. One of the founder members of the Grey Cock was Charles Parker, BBC radio producer, who with Ewan McColl (singer, songwriter, writer and actor - and WMA member) and Peggy Seeger (singer/songwriter), created the Radio Ballads, a series of award-winning musical documentaries broadcast by the BBC in the 1960s. Today I not only sing and play folk music, but have got involved in choral singing. I am a member of Birmingham Choral Union, withThe work of Parker was a major influence on the members of the Grey Cock and it was as a direct result of this that my interest in folk song, particularly songs of social comment or political songs, came about.

 In 2003/4, having been made redundant from my job, I took the opportunity to go to Sheffield University where I took an MA in Folklore and Cultural Tradition. My thesis for this was 'Poliical Song: Its role, Impact and the Motivations of those who Perform It', and I was fortunate enough to be able to use many of my connections in the folk world for my research -  particularly those performers renowned for their 'Political Songs' or songs of 'social comment'


Tamsin Holding. Accompanist. Formerly a music student at Durham University; she composes and plays piano, flute, and cello. She is an 'old hand' in the WMA School. At the school she has won much praise as an accomplished accompanist.


Neill Jackson. Neill is, like Beethoven and Mendelsohn, a viola player. He also plays violin and performs with several orchestras, including Chester Philharmonic, Crosby Symphony, Metropolitan Orchestra and St John's Festival Orchestra, as well as chamber music ensembles. He also plays with the Rochford Ensemble in Hay-on-Wye and London's All Souls Orchestra.

 He sings tenor with the Liverpool Welsh Choral and has sung with the English Haydn Festival Chorus. He conducts the Liverpool String Orchestra and Wirral String Days as well as organising and  conducting the Wirral String Orchestra and Wirral Orchestra. He enjoys walking, cycling and gardening and in his spare time teaches.


Bob James. Bob started to play cornet at 12 years of age continuing throughout his time at school to complete a full time course at the Royal Northern College of Music.

 He has played professionally with orchestras, ballet and opera companies and in all genres in theatres throughout the UK and overseas. He has also taught brass in school and colleges.


David Martin Mus.B; BA; ATCL; Dip.Teach – (E,F,N)   David is a composer, teacher, organist, singer and writer on music. In the last capacity he has been heard several times on Radios 3 and 4, and has had articles published in "Early Music" and the "Musical Times". But composing is his main activity, and his music is heard regularly in public concerts.


Jane Scott_ - (L,S) BA (Music) UCW Aberystwyth, PGCE London University School of Education. Has taught all aspects of music including A-level to students of all ages and is widely experienced in directing both choral and staged performances. Conducts Birmingham Clarion Singers, one of the UK's longest-established socialist choirs.



Sheila Searchfield – (D, T) LRAM, LLCM (TD)  Flute Teacher and Tutor of Wind Ensembles and Flute choirs for many years with a special interest in chamber music of all kinds. Formerly a freelance performer with wind bands and orchestras, also with "The Ladies Bijou Orchestra " and with a  Flute and Guitar Duo. Sheila has always enjoyed being a Tutor at the WMA Summer School and now she has recently started a Woodwind Group for U3A  in SE London. She is  now learning the Cello as a retirement project- which is exercising both brain and co-ordination!


Our Courses

This website will be updated with additional information on the courses material so watch this space



Big Band


The WMA Big Band repertoire consists of a mixture of classic Big Band pieces and specially arranged numbers with a World Music edge. You don't have to be a jazz student to join in. The standard line up is rhythm section, five saxes (two alto, two tenor, baritone), two trumpets and two trombones, but we can and do accommodate other instruments that are keen to try it.





Brass Workshop


Music to be studied at the 2017 Summer School will range from renaissance to present day in all styles, small group and brass band arrangements by Alan Fernie and Robert Ramskill amongst others.


Ceilidh Instrumental work

This session is for those instrumentalists who wish to prepare for the playing in the social evening Ceilidh sessions. You do not have to be on the folk course, and music and advice will be provided, although this currently an untutored course




Chamber Music

 Music for small ensembles of wind and/or strings with one player to a part. Previous chamber music experience is not essential, but students should be at least Grade 3 standard on their instruments.




The 2017 Composition course will look at three things: a history of dance music; the characteristics of some kinds of dance music; and ways of making music dance along, even if it is not intended for dancing. Students will be asked to either compose instrumental dances, or set to music given words of a dancing nature. The course will include both live and recorded performances of dances.

There will be just one composition course, but it will last for two sessions each day. If possible, students should attend both sessions.


 Concert Orchestra








Jazz (modern)


We will be examining & playing music from the broad range covered by the term 'Jazz', including soloing, composed music and listening to recordings. Theory and technique will also be covered as required, and there will be opportunities for ad hoc performance.




Jazz from Scratch


This course is for people who would like to try playing jazz for the first time.
You  are expected to have reasonable fluency on your instrument and some sight reading. Any knowledge of scales and harmony will be helpful, but is not essential as these will be covered on the course.
Improvisation is a central feature of jazz and is neither as difficult nor as scary as you might think. The course will concentrate on providing a repertoire of available notes for every tune that we play. This choice of notes,usually part of a scale, allows solos to be improvised without too much hassle.
While Jazz is a serious art form for most of us it is both fun and creative. I hope this week will be an introduction to a journey which may well last a lifetime.





Jazz – Traditional


Trad jazz is really a form of American folk music and is based on aural traditions. We will learn a tune together and then those who wish will have an opportunity (and be encouraged) to improvise on the tunes against the chord sequences initially by the use of 2 or 3 notes. The main emphasis will be for students to experiment, make mistakes (!) and most importantly have fun.




The 2017 opera course will focus on scenes from Bertolt Brecht’s  and Kurt Weill’s Threepenny Opera, culminating in a performance as part of the Summer School concert on  the final evening. Hopefully we shall all enjoy the challenge of  singing Weill’s music and learning something about Brecht’s ‘epic’ theatre.

 The main objectives of this course are: to involve students in learning and  performing repertoire not normally staged by local amateur societies, to give everyone a chance to discover and develop their potential in a supportive and friendly group (irrespective of present knowledge or past experience) and to  have plenty of fun and laughter. No qualifications are required for this course other than a willingness to learn the material; everyone is welcome.

 As soon as the Organiser passes on details of applicants for the course, students will be contacted by the tutor with information about the extracts we shall be working on and anything else you need to know relating to the ‘production’.


Public Singing for the Terrified


Sight Singing 


Solo Singing


String Orchestra


Summer School Chorus

This is an inclusive session which welcomes students from all courses and is intended to allow those with different musical interests to sing together. No previous singing experience is necessary and the Summer School Chorus provides a good opportunity for students whose main focus is on instrumental music to join in some group singing, along with those whose course choices have a singing focus.

The repertoire includes a wide range of material from madrigals to musicals and songs which reflect the aims of the WMA.


Woodwind Ensemble

 Music for a large group of all woodwind instruments, which can include saxophones and horns. The tutor will bring a wide variety of music which will include both original compositions and also arrangements of classical and more popular styles.