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British BMG Federation Summer School

Friday 12 Jun 4pm — Sunday 14 Jun 4pm, 2020

To make a booking enquiry please complete the form below. We will contact you to confirm availability and complete your booking.

Course Enquiry

  • Halsway Manor will not share your details with any third parties.


Full board per person (tuition, all meals & accommodation):

  • £250 – single ensuite room
  • £215– sharing an ensuite room
  • £215– single non-ensuite room
  • £170 – sharing non-ensuite room

Camping per person (tuition, all meals):

  • £160

Non Resident (tuition, meals except breakfast):

  • £150

We regret that this event has been cancelled due to the coronavirus outbreak. 

We are delighted to be hosting the prestigious 2020 British Banjo, Mandolin and Guitar Federation Summer School. Choose from 3 courses – Classic Finger-style 5-string Banjo with Aaron Jonah Lewis; Mandolin & Guitar with Matt Norman; Mixed Instruments with Nigel Gatherer – and let us know your choice when booking.

Who’s it For?

Three courses are on offer; please let us know when booking which course you would like to enroll on.

Aaron Jonah Lewis – Classic 5-String Banjo: This class will focus on the improvement of technique and musicianship in classic banjo playing through the study of various pieces and exercises. We will concentrate on tone and clarity, rhythm and timing, phrasing and dynamics, and we will discuss various practice methods. We will explore both solo and ensemble playing and look into how to create your own arrangements for the banjo. Standard music notation will be used, and music will be available beforehand. This course is suitable for both the beginner (with a sound basic knowledge of the instrument) as well as the more advanced student.

Matt Norman – Mandolin Through the Ages: From the elegant simplicity of the Renaissance to the rich harmonies of the Romantic era, from the complexity of the Baroque to the jaunty swagger of the early twentieth century, this weekend will explore five centuries of music arranged for plucked string instruments. Emphasis will be on understanding the context and characteristics of the period, exploring good performance practice, and appropriate techniques. The course will combine the fun of playing in an ensemble with the focus of improving as a musician and instrumentalist. Appropriate for all mandolin family instruments, classical guitar and bass string instruments. Music will be provided in conventional notation and the course will be suitable for intermediate and advanced players.

Nigel Gatherer – Traditional European Music & Song: Every country has rich seams of traditional dance music, songs and airs. Nigel Gatherer has listened to music from the four corners of Europe and has chosen the best for this workshop. We’ll play Austrian waltzes, Finnish Hambos, Romanian Gypsy music, French bourees, Maltese drinking songs and Italian tarantellas. In his inimitable way, Nigel Gatherer will make the music accessible, achievable and fun, and introduce you to cultures and traditions which are new, fascinating and illuminating. The workshop is for any instrument and will suit you if you’ve been playing a couple of years or longer.

If you have further queries about course content and the ability level required for each group, please contact:
BMG Federation course co-ordinator Sandra Woodruff, email sandra.woodruff@virgin.net

The Tutors

Aaron Jonah Lewis is an acclaimed multi-instrumentalist, performer and educator. Aaron is passionate about sharing early fingerstyle banjo music (AKA ‘classic banjo’). He points out that classic banjo was the most popular form of music a hundred years ago, and today it’s almost entirely forgotten. Aaron’s newest recording, entitled ‘Mozart of the Banjo: The Joe Morley Project’, is devoted to the compositions of Joe Morley, the great prodigy and virtuoso composer of the turn of the 20th century. Aaron has performed at major festivals from the US to the UK and from Italy to Finland and continues to tour extensively.

Matt Norman: Although Matt is a multi-instrumentalist he would describe the Mandolin as his first love. He fell in to playing this unusual instrument purely by chance but after having lessons with Alison Stephens it became something of an obsession. Almost twenty years later he regularly performs both classical and English folk music having developed his own virtuosic style of interpreting traditional tunes. He is also a conductor and arranger, leading the Mandolin Orchestra of Devon for eight years as well as various choirs and instrumental ensembles. His relaxed and friendly teaching style puts participants quickly at ease, creating a great environment for honing technique and enjoying playing together. After teaching at the 2019 BMG Federation summer school Matt is really looking forward to seeing everyone again.

Nigel Gatherer has been involved in performing, collecting and teaching Scottish music for many years and is much in demand around Scotland to teach mixed instrument groups. He has played with various bands and plays Scots traditional music in concerts, sessions, and for fun. Nigel plays mandolin, guitar, ukulele, penny whistle and Anglo concertina. He won acclaim in late 1980s for his first book, a collection of folksongs from Dundee area, since when he has published many books, including a mandolin chord book and several books of session tunes. Nigel’s own compositions have excited interest, with artists from Canada, Scotland, US and Germany recording his works. Nigel has tutored many mandolin and mixed instrument courses and workshops at BMG Federation Summer Schools and Festivals.

The British BMG Federation aims to promote the performance and education of banjo, mandolin and guitar. It is committed to creating educational opportunities for players of all ages to learn and improve on their chosen instruments through running workshops and courses and advertising courses run by other individuals and organisations.

The Summer School is a major event in the BMG calendar; this is an annual residential weekend that moves around different venues in the UK, offering courses for banjo, mandolin and guitar.