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About The Band

What players and parents need to know about how the Whistling Sheep operates.

We are an independent  Ceilidh band for school students from the area around Ponteland  Morpeth and Hexham. We play ceilidhs all over the local area, from Chillingham Castle in the north, to Blyth on the coast, Hexham and of course Tyneside for private parties, charity fundraisers, wedding receptions and other events. The band is drawn from a pool of young players,(12 to 18 years old) currently including Fiddles, Flutes, Keyboard and Whistles. We arrange practices to suit the players’ needs - currently at Ponteland High School. The band leader is Jim Grant who has worked with young people, music and traditional dance for many years. We are available for hire    Jim is the Caller for the dances, explaining the moves!     Contact Jim for more info:  email:

So why are we called the Whistling Sheep?
The band started in March 1996 at a Northumberland High School, when several friends got together with the help of  parents and a teacher to hold a fundraising Ceilidh.The event was so popular, they were asked to do another, and another… and  the band plays on!! One of the first players carried a sheep rucksack, which was usually hung on a mike stand at the front of the band . So when the players wanted a name for the group, there it was - "The Whistling Sheep"!    See our website for more information,pictures etc.
Also on Facebook-  whistlingsheep
Independent: means that we are not part of a school, youth club or musical training centre etc. Jim is a volunteer after-school teacher at Ponteland High, where the band practises.The evening outings to play Ceilidhs, and all other matters, are organised by an adult committee which includes a parent representative, and we hold Public liability insurance. Parents are asked from time to time to complete a permission form, with medical information as required.
Communication  with band members takes place largely through email to the players, and to parents who wish to be copied in (which is a great help!) There is also a facebook group “Whistling Sheep”, which is used to plan together for  bookings, transport etc. 

Transport: over the years the players have been brought to and from ceilidhs by their own parents, but as friendships between the players continue to grow, parents often cooperate to fetch and carry. Where agreed with parents, both Jim and Phil (who plays fiddle with the band and was a founder member teacher at Ponteland High) are also happy to collect and deliver en route and returning from events.

Commitment: We understand the life of our young musicians is busy, and when they have  reached a musical competence  and shown themselves to be considerate team members they can be invited to play for ceilidhs.  We ask only that they reply yes or no to invitations to play on particular dates where the Sheep are booked, so that Jim knows if we can field a band on that date.   Players’ other commitments in no way seem to hinder their membership of the Whistling Sheep!

Cost: there is no membership fee, and as players’ usefulness grows, they are given money after each event, to play for instrument maintenance, parental petrol costs, refreshments etc.
It has been the practice that players who have left school are welcome to play with the Sheep on occasions when they are at home eg from University etc, but they need to understand that only a small reimbursement (if any) may be made.

Click here to access all the Sheep Music

Sheep Music 2021

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