The Night Before Christmas

Twas the night before Christmas
And all through the house
Not a creature was stirring
Not even a mouse……

This feels like a good time to mention my orchestral composition The Night Before Christmas. I wrote it a couple of years ago, inspired by the famous poem of the same name and using the complete text of the poem as a narration throughout.

You can have a listen here: Enjoy!

(Alternatively could come to the South Essex Youth Symphony Orchestra’s Christmas concert tomorrow night. Southend High School for Boys, 7.30pm. We’ll be playing my piece, Mozart’s 40th symphony, West Side Story, Star Trek, and other Christmassy things!)

Merry Christmas!



New photos!


Last Friday the lovely Jennifer Lei of JLei Photography got out her jokebook and managed to get me to smile long enough to take lots and lots of photos! They’ll be appearing on this site very soon, but in the meantime you can get a sneak preview on her facebook page here.


Summer update


Hi all,

It’s been a busy summer, so here’s a quick summary of some of the things I’ve been doing…

But first, apologies to all the Rainbow Music people who tried to download the audio tracks and found that they wouldn’t work. I’m not sure what went wrong there, but I couldn’t sort it out until I got home! The good news: mp3 files for all the tunes we’ve played so far are now available again – hover your cursor over the Teaching tab and wait for the page title Rainbow Music Folk Band to appear.

I spent the last week of July at the English Acoustic Collective Summer School, at Ruskin Mill in Gloucestershire. It’s a very unusual summer school in that the main aim isn’t to learn tunes or techniques – it’s about developing your own style, listening closely to work out how your playing can enhance the sound of an ensemble, composing, and creatively interpreting tunes (from a manuscript or otherwise). All this in the beautiful surroundings of a Cotswold valley, with 15 other participants and three tutors (Miranda Rutter, John Dipper and Rob Harbron).

Ruskin Mill, July 2011

After a brief detour to call and play fiddle for a wedding ceilidh on the Isle of Wight, I continued onto Sidmouth in Devon for the Sidmouth Folk Week. Here I was a tutor for the Shooting Roots Funky World Band – a series of music workshops for teenagers that culminate in a showcase at the end of the week, along with the Theatre, Craft, Song and Morris strands of Shooting Roots. I also had plenty of time to enjoy the rest of this busy festival, and I’m sure the glorious late night renditions of I’m Blue (also featuring The Young’Uns and Kirsty Bromley) and Bohemian Rhapsody (also featuring the Spooky Men’s Chorale and others) will make their way onto the internet at some point….!

After another ceilidh (this time in Hampshire) I headed towards Broadstairs in Kent, for a slightly more chilled Broadstairs Folk Week. Again, I was a tutor for Shooting Roots, but this time we were preparing for a showcase of a different nature – namely, Paul Sartin’s Changing Landscapes production, which also featured a septet of prominent names on the folk music scene, a local choir called Folk In Harmony, a local morris team called Wantsum Morris and the Sounds Fresh youth folk group for which I am music leader. Paul had given us a lot of material for the youth participants to perform, which led to a slightly manic but very productive week! One highlight for me was teaching everyone the chorus of Rio Grande and having them blast it out brilliantly in the soundcheck and concert. I also ended up singing with Folk In Harmony for their numerous choir numbers, which was a lot of fun and meant I had the songs stuck in my head for days afterwards!

I then spent a few hours at home (just enough time to do a very lazy repack of my bag) before heading back to Hampshire to go on a real holiday – on my family’s yacht, Koto. We had an action-packed week though – Yarmouth, Alderney, Guernsey, Dartmouth, Weymouth and back to the home berth in Gosport, all in less than 8 days. It was a refreshing change from normal music-filled life, but now that I’m home I’m already eagerly reading through the programme for Towersey Village Festival – four days to go!!


Rainbow Music


This is just a post to let Rainbow Music people know that the folk band audio tracks to practise to can now be found on this website if you hover your cursor over the ‘teaching’ tab above then click on the words ‘Rainbow Music Folk Band’ when they appear.

Everyone else: nothing to see here! *whistles*


New website


Hi everyone,

As you may have noticed, I’ve recently updated my website to a wordpress-based one. This should inspire more frequent updates from me! Please don’t be alarmed by the fact that the urls are mysteriously labelled ‘the cunning plan’ – some other Alison Rowley beat me to a more sensible choice of username! (The Cunning Plan is, of course, the name of the ceilidh band I direct.)

I’ll leave you with the news that the last couple of weeks have been satisfyingly busy ones – May Week in Cambridge is always a good excuse to return to the city and play/call for ceilidhs at silly times of the morning (4am for me this year, two nights in a row!), and this weekend’s Essex Concert Orchestra concerts went down very well. (My grandma certainly seemed to enjoy waving her flag in the Fantasia of British Sea Songs.)

Other highlights for me include playing the 1st movement of Bach’s Double Violin Concerto (2nd violin solo) with the Woolmer Music Group at Horndon Feast & Fayre whilst being subtly attacked by tiny black thunderbugs, running a slightly noisy folk music workshop for 2-7 year olds at the Sunshine Child Festival in Thanet, and getting the chance to watch Blazin’ Fiddles in Cambridge last Saturday – the first time I’d seen any of them play since Taransay Fiddle Camp three years ago.

Now I’m looking forward to a week of teaching, gigging and picnicking, in Essex, London, Kent and Cambridgeshire!


Hello world!


A recent Music graduate of Cambridge University, Alison Rowley is now a professional musician, music leader and instrumental teacher.

Alison Rowley 2010

She regularly plays and calls with the Cunning Plan Ceilidh Band, the Bucket Band and Licence to Ceilidh.

Alison teaches violin, fiddle and piano to all ages in Essex and Kent, from one-to-one tuition to whole classes of primary school children. She is music leader for a community youth folk band and runs folk workshops.

Past workshops include: How To Blag It In Sessions, Calling for Ceilidhs, the Shooting Roots Ceilidh Project at Towersey Festival, Maypole Dancing at Chippenham Folk Festival, Tin Whistle For Beginners, and folk taster days in schools.

Alison is also an amateur composer. Her orchestral work Journey’s End was most recently performed by the Orchestra On The Hill in Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge.