Workshops 2023

DateTutorWorkshop TitleAbility Level
Saturday 13th AprilAndy CuttingA1 - How to start using the bass end more
Please note this workshop is now full - Jan11th 2024
Mel Biggs
B1 - Beyond oom-pah: getting creative with your left handI/H
Marinette BonnertC1 - Discover Walloon music with dance tunes from Wallonia.B/I
Archie Churchill-MossD1 - Reharmonisation and ModulationI/H
Paul ScourfieldE1 - Right hand chords and harmonies B/I
Sunday 14th AprilAndy CuttingA2 - Getting inside a tune
Please note this workshop is now full - Nov25th 2023
Mel Biggs
B2 - Session Survival Skills: Discuss & explore practical ways to get better at playing in groupsB/I
Marinette BonnertC2 - Ensemble playing, second voice, accompaniment and work on the impulses of Walloon dance music.I/H
Archie Churchill-MossD2 - Navigating the MelodeonB/I
Paul ScourfieldE2 - Three Time TunesI/H

See here for explanation of ability levels.

Saturday 22nd April

A1 – Katie Howson

Exploring the Dusty EndBasic / Intermediate Level

This workshop aims to help you explore the full range of the keyboard and gain confidence in using the higher octave (those buttons nearer your knee!). As these notes can sound very squeaky on the G row (depending on the model of your instrument) we will mainly be using the D row. We will look at tunes that stretch your fingers and find out how you can use this area of the keyboard to enhance your playing.

B1 – John Kirkpatrick*

Chords and extra notes on the Right Hand Side – Intermediate / Higher Level

Explore the fun of adding one or two or three notes to what you’re already playing on the right hand side. You can produce lush swathes of harmony – ideal for song accompaniments or supporting other instrumentalists – or punch notes in under the tune to emphasize the rhythm you’re trying to establish. And you can provide some of the chords that aren’t there on the left hand side. Aimed at players of a normal eight bass G/D two-row, but as we reach outer space it will help if you have the two accidental buttons under your chin or elsewhere.

*Because John is always such a popular tutor, we’re limiting you to just one of his units over the weekend to give as many people as possible an opportunity to work with him.

C1 – Toon van Mierlo

Groovy Traditional Music from BelgiumBasic / Intermediate Level

In this workshop you will learn some traditional tunes from Belgium. We will work with a few tunes on ornamentation, harmony, second voices and variations.

D1 – Pascale Rubens

One Melody, Five Different Worlds – –Intermediate / Higher Level

During this workshop we will start with one melody (a gavotte de l’Aven)  and we will transform this melody into 4 other dances (waltz, rondeau, polka…) The meaning is to discover what’s changing each time and to learn the different accents (tempo, interpretation, variation of left hand …) you can put on each new melody. 

E1 – John Spiers*

Feeling and Phrasing, Making the Tunes you Play Sound Better.Basic / Intermediate Level

In some ways we’re very lucky with our instrument. Fiddle players take years just perfecting their tone and playing notes in tune.  For us, we only have to press a button and move the bellows to get a ready-made note!  However, this means that we tend to focus on getting all the notes necessarily in the right order and don’t look beyond, which is where the magic happens.  Using some very simple tunes, which it’s very likely that many of you will already know, we will explore everything available to you as a melodeon player to get more feeling out of those notes, and how that can affect the way the tunes we play sound.  This will include short (staccato) notes and long (legato) notes, bellows pressure and reed limits, row crossing vs playing on one row, using the air button, changing the feel by accentuating on-beats and off-beats.

*Because John is always such a popular tutor, we’re limiting you to just one of his units over the weekend to give as many people as possible an opportunity to work with him.

Sunday 23rd April

A2 – Katie Howson

Barn Dance FeverIntermediate / Higher Level

Don’t worry, I’m not talking about those Saturday night events featuring check shirts and hay bales! At one of my local sessions we have become quite obsessed with the tune type known as “barn dance” and we could easily play them all night. “What are they?” you may ask! A sort of laid back swingy hornpipe I suppose, deceptively simple, but with lots of scope for creativity and variation. We’ll look at some gorgeous tunes emanating from County Clare in Ireland, which are eminently playable for English-style musicians.

B2 – John Kirkpatrick*

Fire up the Engine Room – Basic/Intermediate Level

The bass buttons make up half the noise you’re producing, but it’s dismaying how little attention some players give to them. We’ll look at how to make the most of the oom pa’s to create dynamic dance music in all the common rhythms, and equally how to establish a smoother musical landscape – if you really have to! Suitable for a basic eight bass two-row in G and D.

*Because John is always such a popular tutor, we’re limiting you to just one of his units over the weekend to give as many people as possible an opportunity to work with him.

C2 – Toon van Mierlo

From Variations to a New TuneIntermediate / Higher Level

We will learn a simple tune and then try to make as many variations as possible. The aim is to learn how to play a tune in your own personal version. It will help you to make your own compositions later on. 

D2 – Pascale Rubens

When You Can Play the Tune, You Are Half Way …Basic / Intermediate

During this workshop we will start with one melody, and we will search together to find all the elements you can add to make it complete: the interpretation, variations on melody and accompaniment, …

E2 – John Spiers*

Playing Outside of D, G and E minor!Intermediate / Higher Level

We all know that the standard 2 row 8 bass melodeon keyboard is pretty limited when it comes to which keys we can play in, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t push the boundaries a little.  In this workshop we’ll explore the techniques and approaches needed to play tunes in A major, A minor, C major and B minor, all keys which are encountered in the standard session repertoire from time to time.  It all becomes a lot less scary when you realise that you can leave notes out of the tunes to make them fit our boxes!  This workshop will be aimed at players of 2 row D/G melodeons but will include support for those that play extended 2.5 and 3 row melodeons with an extra row of accidentals/reversals and those with extra bass buttons.

*Because John is always such a popular tutor, we’re limiting you to just one of his units over the weekend to give as many people as possible an opportunity to work with him.

Mini Workshops

On the Saturday afternoon we also run some “mini-workshops” starting at 15:50 and finishing at 17:00. You can opt for one, or can opt out entirely. These are run by Vicky, Bob, Richard, Theo and Brian and are as follows:

M1Vicky CooperG/C MelodeonOne tune – ten variations! In our mini-workshop we’ll look at a tune played on a G/C melodeon, and then explore ten simple variations or additions that you could apply not only to this tune, but to others in your repertoire.  Experience of playing in G/C would be an advantage. You will need to bring your own G/C instrument.
M2Hugh TaylorYorkshire Dales TunesTraditional tunes local to the Yorkshire Dales from newly discovered sources, including the manuscript of Thomas Biker of Embsay in Wharfedale, 1784. Hugh lives in Arnside near Kendal, and plays in the English ceilidh band Tumbling Tom. He was involved with Bob Ellis in transcribing some of the tunes and dances from field recordings, prior to Bob publishing his seminal book 'There was None of this Lazy Dancing'. Tumbling Tom also used some of these transcriptions and field recordings to put on a Dales ceilidh at Askrigg in 2013.
M3Richard FeatherstoneIrish tunes for people who don't play Irish tunes!Some first steps into Irish music for English style musicians, looking at some Irish tunes that are approachable for D/G players."
M. Note as of Jan2024 this workshop is full.
M4Theo GibbMelodeon MaintenanceA practical demonstration and discussion of the process of diagnosing and fixing common problems.  For example, notes that don’t play, notes that play all the time, air leaks, notes that wheeze, groan, burble or rasp, and anything else that participants bring along.
M5Rees WessonThe Tunes of Oscar WoodsAn exploration of the repertoire and style of the legendary Suffolk melodeon player Oscar Woods