Dr Fay Hield

image of Fay HieldDepartment of Music
The University of Sheffield
Jessop Building
34 Leavygreave Road
S3 7RD

Tel: +44 (0) 114 222 0497

Email: f.hield@sheffield.ac.uk


I have organised, made and thought about music to varying degrees my whole life. While I thought that one day I’d get a proper job because you can’t make any money singing songs in the pub, it has miraculously come together as a career. It all began at Bacca Pipes, my local folk club… Singing floor spots and choruses, nannying for touring musicians and living with a pro folk musician in Ireland all gave me an insight into this performance context and ‘music industry’. When the BMus in Folk and Traditional Music started at Newcastle University in 2004 I jumped, mainly to critique how they thought they could teach this stuff, but the academic bug got me, and I now spend a lot of my time still asking that same question, and trying out new ways of doing it.

I completed my PhD thesis ‘English Folk Singing and the Construction of Community’ in 2010 and started teaching Ethnomusicology at Sheffield in 2011. I deliver the undergraduate modules ‘Music in the Community’, ‘Music Business’, ‘Ethnomusicology’ and ‘Music of the World’. I also teach several modules for the MA in Ethnomusicology, Distance Learning MAs in Traditional Music of the British Isles and World Music Studies and the MA in Music Management as a Senior Lecturer. Alongside my teaching role, I oversee the department’s activities in outreach, widening participation and enterprise. This involves developing projects with local schools and other institutions throughout the city and developing students’ abilities to be enterprising graduates.

Beyond the University, I record and tour with my regular band The Hurricane Party and undertake special projects such as the recent Full English. The Full English was awarded ‘Best Group’ and ‘Best Album’ in the 2014 BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards, and I was nominated as ‘Folk Singer of the Year’ which I’m rather chuffed about. I have established links in the community and a passion for bringing the experience of amateur music making to wide audiences. This is mainly done through promoting folk music events under the banner of Soundpost Community Network, an organisation advocating educational and entertaining activities.

I think it’s really important to bring all these experiences together not because it makes my life easier, in fact it tends to make everything rather more complicated, but because they enhance each other in interesting ways. For example, students worked on the programme notes for my Full English project and I regularly bring musicians to perform to my ethnomusicology groups, or colleagues from the music industry to talk to my management students. I have also been lucky enough to receive funding to spend time researching the impacts of Soundpost’s activities, bringing practical activities under the umbrella of my academic work at the University. I try to involve students in all this as far as possible, currently through classroom based teaching, research posts and internships.

Research Interests

  • Musical Communities
  • Folk Singing Style
  • Composition within Tradition
  • Audience and Participant Development through Applied Research

Research Grants

2015 Impact Case Study Funding (£3700): Measuring the impact of Old Adam, a new album release and its impact on audiences.
2015 Arts Enterprise (£450); Finance Committee (£175): Artist/videographer collaboration to support development of Old Adam.
2014 Arts Enterprise (£1000): Roma Stories EP, collection of original music with sleeve notes to support the ‘Roma Stories’ film produced in collaboration with Babelsongs and Researching Community Heritage (Archaeology).
2013 Arts and Humanities Research Council (Connected Communities) (£98,000): Transmitting Musical Heritage – co produced research involving academics and three community partners.
2013 Arts Enterprise (£990): Folk Song in England: A study day open to the public exploring the development of the folk song cannon through the early 19C collectors (1 Feb 2014).
2013 Arts Council England (£7,004); PRSf Women in Music (£4,734); Faculty Fund (£660): The Full English, involving a recording and national tour of the archive-to-performance project with student involvement.
2012 Arts Enterprise, University of Sheffield (£7,540): Widening participation through the Traditional Song Forum (2012) and Soundpost Singing Weekend (2013). Developing external links through bringing folk musicians into the dept through TUOS folk and engaging student interns on community projects.
2011 East Peak in Partnership (£4,010): Community outreach and education through the Soundpost Singing Weekend, delivering academic and practical workshops.

Selected Publications (book chapters and papers)

Hield, Fay. (2015) ‘In Defence of Revivals: Tradition and Community in a Contemporary English Folk Club’ in Atkinson, David and Roud, Steve (eds.), Proceedings of The English Folk Dance and Song Society Folk Song Conference 2013, 173-187.
Hield, Fay. (2014) The Song Collectors Collective. Website Review. The World of Music (New Series), 3/1, 176.
Hield, Fay. (2014) Pete Seeger: a life of broadening minds through music. Obituary. The Conversation (online).
Hield, Fay and Crossley, Nick. (2014) ‘Tastes, Ties and Social Space: Exploring Sheffield’s Folk Singing World’ in Crossley, N, McAndrew, S. and Widdop, P (eds.) Social Networks and Music Worlds, London: Routledge.
Hield, Fay. (2013) ‘Negotiating participation in an English Singing Session’ in Russell, I and Ingram, C (eds.) Taking Part in Music: Case Studies in Ethnomusicology, Elphinstone Institute Occasional Publications 9. Aberdeen: Aberdeen University Press, in association with the European Seminar in Ethnomusicology.

Selected Publications (music)

2016 Old Adam, Fay Hield & The Hurricane Party, Soundpost Records.
2013 The Full English, The Full English, Topic Records.
2012 Orfeo, Fay Hield & The Hurricane Party, Topic Records.
2010 Looking Glass, Fay Hield, Topic Records.
2005 Hell’s Belles, The Witches of Elswick, Selwin Music.
2003 Out of Bed, The Witches of Elswick, Fellside Records.

Selected Presentations

2014 ‘The Full English’, Connected Communities Festival, Cardiff.
2013 ‘Tradition and Community in the contemporary English Folk Singing Scene (or, In defence of Revivals)’, Folk Song Conference, English Folk Dance and Song Society, London.
2013 ‘How Musical Heritage is Transmitted’, N8:Heritage North, Durham University.
2013 ‘Exploring Sheffield’s Folk World’, The Social Spaces of Music, CRESC Conference, University of Manchester.
2013 ‘Transmitting Musical Heritage’ [film and discussion], Connected Communities Summit, Edinburgh
2012 ‘The English Folk Song’, Bath Literature Festival.
2011 ‘Negotiating Participation in an English Singaround’, European Seminar in Ethnomusicology, University of Aberdeen.
2008 ‘Inside the Insider: An ethnomusicologist being their own field of research’, The 9th Société Internationale d’Ethnologie et de Folklore (SIEF) Conference ‘Transcending “European Heritages”: Liberating the ethnological imagination’, University of Ulster.
2008 'Creating Community Through Singing Folk Songs', National Centre for English Cultural Tradition, University of Sheffield.
2007 ‘Professionals are people too: The impacts of professionalism on participants in an amateur folk singing community’, SEMPRE Conference ‘Musical Participation’, University of Sheffield.