School of Arts and Cultures

Staff Profiles

Sandra Kerr

Senior Teacher



Sandra Kerr has had a long and distinguished career in folk music, beginning with her training in the acclaimed Critic's Group( 1963-72 ), under the tutelage of Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seeger. Here she received a strong grounding in the folk arts, including song, instrumental music, folk and agit-prop theatre. She developed her song-writing skills here , and did much research ,becoming familiar with all the works of the great folk lorists such as Sharp , Child, Bronson and so on. This reseach resulted in some ground-breaking recordings including Sweet Thames Flow Softly, A Merry Progress to London and The Female Frolic, possibly the first album to explore the folk repertoire in it's relation to women's experience, a theme which was , and is, constantly recurring in her work, as for example in her contributions to My Song is my Own (Pluto Press, 1979).

In the late 70s and 80s she worked mostly in the media, where her writing and presenting skills were much in demand . She co-wrote and researched all the music for the much-loved TV series "Bagpuss" , currently enjoying a revival of cult proportions.She also acted in the films , finding her true vocation as a bossy rag doll and several mice…. The rest of the decade was spent researching material for, writing and presenting a whole range of programmes for BBC Children's Radio , including "The Music Box" and "The Listening Corner ".

The last decade or so has seen a slightly different emphasis in her work for, though she has continued to perform and record, she has become one of the most sought-after workshop leaders in the country. She offers a whole range of training programmes from voice production to traditional singing style, concertina workshops, training for teachers in the use of song and dance in early years education , and more.

She also directs two immensely popular folk choirs ,Wercasfolk ( a women's group ,30 strong ) and VoiceMale ( newly formed men's choir) for whom she has reseached and arranged an exciting repertoire of folk and world music. The diverse nature of her work has meant that she has incredibly broad experience and understanding of the use of folk song and music in a variety of settings

Roles and Responsibilities

Module leader for Traditions of These Islands
Music Skills 1
Songs and Struggle
Singing for Learning
Principle Voice Tutor


Research Interests

Vocal Skills
Choral and harmony singing
Music in Primary Education
Women in Music
English Concertina playing styles and skills

Other Expertise

Performer on voice, English concertina, dulcimer, autoharp
Choral leadership and arrangement
Training for music in pre-school and primary settings
Music and music direction for theatre and film

Current Work

CD of children's song (traditional and self-written) for Fellside Records
Commission of choral work for Sidmouth Festilval Choir
Commission of choral work for Twenty Thousand Voices/English Heritage

Future Research

CD and booklet on vocal skills 'Warm-up, Sing Out'.
CD and booklet on English concertina technique
Development of performance piece on cante-fable with story teller Taffy Thomas MBE

Postgraduate Supervision

Postgraduate supervision on areas of songwriting, traditional repertoire and vocal skills

Esteem Indicators

Frequent keynote presentations at music conferences (e.g. Association of British Choral Directors and Wessex Primary Music Conference)
Advisor to various music and arts organisations (e.g. Audley House, Hampshire, Farnecombe Estates Conference Centre, Youth and Music, Charles Parker Archive)
Frequent broadcasts on radio and television
Source for researchers on history of folk revival in Britain