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Tune Writing Weekend

Friday 1 Oct 4pm — Sunday 3 Oct 4pm, 2021

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, activities, all meals & accommodation):

  • £262– single ensuite room
  • £225– sharing an ensuite room
  • £225– single non-ensuite room
  • £180 – sharing non-ensuite room

Camping per person (tuition, activities, all meals):

  • £170

Non Resident (tuition, activities, all meals except breakfast):

  • £160

Join Andy May (Andy May Trio, Baltic Crossing, Jez Lowe & the Bad Pennies) with guest artist Paul Sartin (Belshazzar’s Feast, Faustus, Bellowhead) and Amy Thatcher (Kathryn Tickell Band, The Shee, Monster Ceilidh Band) for an enjoyable and accessible introduction to writing your own ‘folk’ tunes. Packed with tips and exercises to aid your journey from idea to performable tune. The course is aimed at novice composers, but if you’ve some experience there will be plenty for you to benefit from as well.  Andy, Paul and Amy will be your guides through the composition process, from looking for inspiration both external and internal; translating those concepts into music and putting them down on paper (where appropriate); crafting melodies and addressing technical issues; and preparing the tunes for performance. Paul is also happy to address setting existing words to new music.

Who’s it For?

Musicians (any instrument) of an intermediate level and above; you’ll need to be able to play your own tunes! You don’t need any prior experience of writing tunes. A familiarity with reading / writing notation will be beneficial in getting the most from this course. If you have queries, please get in touch.

The Team

Andy May is generally considered to be one of the finest exponents of the Northumbrian Smallpipes. He was introduced to the instrument as a child by his father and was taught by Roland Lofthouse (himself a pupil of Jack Armstrong) and Adrian Schofield. He then continued to be inspired by pipers Billy Pigg, Tom Clough and many others. Early in his career he achieved nine consecutive wins of the Northumbrian Pipers’ Society Open Competition, studied piano at York University and now tours internationally as a member of Jez Lowe and the Bad Pennies, Baltic Crossing and The Andy May Trio.

As a teacher, Andy May has many helpful approaches to both technique and musicality and has led workshops all over the world and teaches Northumbrian and Uilleann pipes and piano at Newcastle University.

Paul Sartin is a singer, oboist, fiddler, member of Belshazzar’s Feast, Faustus (Preis der Deustchen Schallplattenkritik 2017) and the late BBC award-winning Bellowhead. Paul directs the Andover Museum Loft Singers, and arranged Community Choirs Folk (Faber Music). A BASCA-nominated composer, recent commissions include work for the BBC, RSC, Aldeburgh Music, Streetwise Opera and the Southbank. He arranged and MD’d The Transports (Guardian *****), and Anthony and Cleopatra, As You Like It and Cymbeline for Central School of Speech and Drama. He is a recipient of a 75th Anniversary Award from the English Folk Dance and Song Society.

Amy Thatcher is a professional accordionist based in the North East of England. Her reputation as one of the UK’s leading folk accordionists, both as a performer and composer, is garnered from working with luminaries such as Kathryn Tickell, Sting and The Royal Northern Sinfonia, The Shee and Monster Ceilidh Band. In 2009 Amy had the pleasure of collaborating with Sting on his Winter Song book and DVD, and contributed to his musical Broadway show “The Last Ship”. She’s an alumni of Newcastle University Folk Music Degree course and her exceptional accordion playing has taken her across the world from The Royal Albert Hall to the Rainforest World Music Festival in Malaysia, performing with small instrumental groups to full orchestras. She has a diverse range of musical influences and experiences, including contemporary avant-guard composer Terry Riley’s compositions to a hugely successful Leonard Cohen Tribute tour. 2019 saw the release of her debut album “Solo”, a dynamic and expressive instrumental album exploring new textures and arrangements for solo accordion. 2019 saw the release of her debut album “Solo”, a dynamic and expressive instrumental album exploring new textures and arrangements for solo accordion.  “Amy has become my right hand woman” is how Tickell describes their working relationship over the last ten years.