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Spotlight On… Fèis Phàislig

Fèis Phàislig are a registered charity in Scotland and provides opportunities in traditional music and Gaelic culture for young people across Renfrewshire. Gaelic for ‘Paisley Festival’, Fèis Phàislig was established in 2015 and delivered their first ever ‘Fèis Week’ – an intensive course of come-and-try workshops, that saw over 60 children take part in instrumental tuition, singing and drama with some of Scotland’s leading traditional musicians. All Fèis Phàislig tutors are active, experienced, professional musicians, skilled in working with young people, and augmented by a pool of supervisors and volunteers. They now provide a year-round programme of events that, in 2019, delivered to over 4500 participants.

The different opportunities they offer are shared below.

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Gaelic Choir

See also: Scottish Traditional, Community Hubs, Vocal/Choral.

The Fèis Phàislig Gaelic Choir provides an opportunity for young people to come together and sing in a fun environment. Participants do not require previous knowledge of Gaelic to join and have the opportunity to compete in local and national competitions including the Royal National Mòd.

In partnership with Renfrewshire Council, and with support from Bòrd na Gàidhlig, participation in the choir is free for all participants. Sessions take place on Tuesday evenings during term time.

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Weekly Féis Beag

See also: Scottish Traditional, Community Hubs

Weekly Fèis Bheag sessions give an introduction to traditional music, song, dance, art and Gaelic for 5-7 year olds. Participants experience different elements of the main Fèis classes, and are given opportunities to perform at concerts.

Fèis Bheag sessions take place on Saturday mornings during term-time and are offered in either Gaelic or English, lasting approximately 50 minutes. For pupils in English-medium education, sessions will be delivered in English with elements of Gaelic. For those with fluency in Gaelic or in Gaelic-medium education, sessions will be delivered in Gaelic.

Places are limited and offered on a first-come-first-served basis, and cost £4 per lesson at the time of publication. Fèis Phàislig have a limited number of fully funded places at their events for pupils eligible for a clothing grant or free school meals.

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Féis Week

See also: Scottish Traditional, Community Hubs

Every July, the Fèis Week offers an intensive week of arts workshops for young people aged 5-18. Working with some of Scotland’s top traditional musicians, participants are able to develop their skills, take part in the finale concert and most importantly, have fun.

The Fèis Week is split into 3 key stages, reflecting Fèis Phaislig’s broader structure:

  • Fèis Bheag (or ‘Wee Fèis’) offers an introduction to traditional music and Gaelic song for 5-7 year olds
  • The Main Fèis Week offers come-and-try workshops with music, song dance for 8-18 year olds
  • The Advanced Fèis Week offers a series of developmental workshops for secondary school pupils who can already play an instrument.
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Weekly Lessons

See also: Scottish Traditional, Community Hubs

Fèis Phaislig’s Weekly Lessons programme provides year-round music tuition for young people across Renfrewshire. Classes take place on Saturday mornings during term time, where participants are offered 1hr tuition every week. Fèis Phaislig currently deliver tuition in accordion, fiddle and guitar with newstart places aimed at Primary 5 level (although other age and ability levels are considered). Fèis Phaislig have a supply of instruments available to hire for those that do not have their own.

No experience is required and classes are delivered in a group environment, with weekly targets and practice diaries forming an essential part of the learning culture. Events are held throughout the year to showcase the progress of the participants and give friends and family the opportunity to observe the progress being made.

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Advanced Band

See also: Scottish Traditional, Community Hubs, instrumental specialism, ensemble experience.

Fèis Phaislig offer an Advanced band programme that runs as part of their Weekly Lessons programme on Saturdays during term-time. This is aimed at secondary pupils who can already play an instrument. Musicians work within a mixed-instrument group with a member of the tutor team to develop their musicianship and performance skills.

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Ceilidh Trail

See also: Scottish Traditional, Community Hubs

The Fèis Phàislig Ceilidh Trail gives early career musicians aged 16-25 the opportunity to experience life on the road as a traditional musician. The project welcomes those who are passionate about traditional music and considering a career as a musician to audition. The successful musicians join together to rehearse under the guidance of professional musicians from Fèis Phàislig, and arrange a programme of traditional music and song. They also join with young musicians from other Fèisean for an intensive training week (Fèis Alba) in Plockton. The group then perform their music in a range of settings as a part of a two-week professional summer tour in a diverse range of settings. This includes performances in community settings such as: care homes; nurseries; charities; community groups; libraries, as well as higher profile ticketed events. Participants are paid a competitive weekly wage, and have their expenses reimbursed.

During the Ceilidh Trail project, participants learn: about PA systems and live sound; how to call dances and play for Ceilidhs; to develop arranging skills and stagecraft, Gaelic language skills and how to introduce sets bilingually; the importance of music within the community and how to tailor performances to suit audiences of all ages.

Mód Phàislig 2023

See also: Scottish Traditional, Community Hubs, Songwriting, Composition, performance specialism.

This year, Paisley is hosting Mód Phàislig from Friday 13th – Saturday 21st October 2023. As part of the organising committee, Fèis Phàislig, in partnership with Love Local, Love Paisley are running a competition to write the official tune of Mód Phàislig 2023, to be performed at a large-scale concert at the Mód.

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How to get involved

If you live in the Renfrewshire area and want to get involved in any of the projects above, here is where you can find Fèis Phàislig –

Grant McFarlane (Fèis Coordinator):
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