Now in its fourth year we’re delighted to be welcoming back the popular Halsway Manor Melodeon Workshop Weekend. This years’ DG Melodeon weekend will be led by the extraordinary dream team of tutors, Andy Cutting, Hazel Askew, Anne Niepold, and Mel Biggs.
For beginners to advanced players, there will be workshops, time to socialise and take part in informal sessions (including ‘slow and steady’ sessions with Mel) plus an informal tutor’s concert on the Saturday evening.
“I really enjoyed the weekend. The accommodation and food was lovely, such a special house. Being in close touch with such good teachers and great musicians, so inspiring.”
Who’s it For?
Players of the D/G melodeon (diatonic button accordion), of all ability levels. You’ll need a DG melodeon (2 row, 8 bass as a minimum). The course is taught predominantly by ear at all levels.
In a change to previous years, we’ll be running 4 groups, and asking you to pre-select the group which best suits your current ability level. If – come the weekend – you feel you’re in the wrong place, there will be the possibility to move group at the tutors’ discretion.
Our Getting Started! Group will spend the full weekend with Mel Biggs, an experienced tutor with a particular passion – and talent – for working with beginners.
Our Elementary, Medium and Advanced groups will rotate around our remaining tutors, Hazel Askew, Andy Cutting and Anne Niepold, allowing you the experience of learning from each of them.
Please make sure you read our Halsway Playing Levels guide, to help you choose the most appropriate group. Also while we commend ambition, please be realistic about what your playing level will be next July!
The groups are:
Getting Started! (With Mel)
So you’ve got your box, had a lesson or two, and been noodling away at home? This might be the first time you’ve been to a course like this or played in a group – but it won’t be the last! Mel will lead an enjoyable and supportive weekend to get your melodeon-playing journey off to the best possible start. You’re most likely a level 1 player, but if you’re a total beginner we might also be able to accommodate you.
Aimed at our level 2 players, we’ll be learning simple tunes that will help you with technique as well as adding to your repertoire. You should be used to playing tunes with both hands together, albeit slowly, and you’ll need to be prepared to learn tunes by ear.
For our level 3+ players, this is an intermediate level class which will move at a faster pace, looking at more complex tunes and incorporating a greater level of challenge. You should be able to pick up tunes by ear at a reasonable speed, know your way round the right and especially the left hand of your box, and be used to crossing the rows.
This group is for those who want a real challenge. You’ll be at least a level 4 on our playing guidelines, and able to pick up tunes by ear at a fair pace. You’ll be wanting explore the possibilities of your instrument and develop your musical style as well as technical ability.
Music is not sent out in advance for this course. Teaching is generally by ear with scores available for you to take away. All tutors are happy for you to make video or sound recordings for your own use, so bring a recording device as well as a notepad and pen!
Andy Cutting needs little introduction. Hailed as one of the country’s most beloved folk musicians and three-time winner of BBC Folk Musician of the Year, Andy is an emotive and engaging performer, and a warm and witty tutor.
A soulful and technically outstanding melodeon practitioner with an ear for a fine tune, as well as a thorough grounding in the English tradition, Andy’s influences extend way beyond these isles, particularly to the music of Central France and to the storming Quebecois tradition. He currently performs with Leveret, with Martin Simpson and Nancy Kerr, plus Blowzabella, Topette, June Tabor, and Roger Daltry.
“Hearing Andy Cutting play is like going through the wardrobe and finding Narnia. His music is glorious, joyful, moving, subtle, emotionally charged, a totally spell-binding experience that is never long enough.” June Tabor
Anne Niepold (Belgium) is an extraordinary accordionist and composer. A passionate tutor with almost 20 years experience. Anne holds a masters degree in composition and arrangement from the prestigious Brussels Royal Conservatoire and has taught courses for all levels of ability across Belgium, and in France and Germany. As a performer she is a true force of nature – brash, adventurous and phenomenally skilled, she takes the humble accordion in startling directions. Beside her solo projects, she performs with numerous arts companies at home and abroad, and has numerous recordings to her name.
Hazel Askew is a London based melodeon player, singer and musician. She has worked as a performer on the folk scene for many years, most notably with BBC Radio 2 Folk Award nominated vocal trio Lady Maisery and traditional English folk duo The Askew Sisters, with whom she won Best Female Singer at the 2011 Spiral Earth Awards. She regularly runs melodeon courses for EFDSS as part of their Saturday Music Workshop series in London and has frequently taught on their adult, youth and schools projects. Hazel has also led workshops and courses for organisations including Barbican Creative Learning, Folkworks, Aldeburgh Young Musicians, Dartington Summer School, Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre and as well as various festivals around the country.
Mel Biggs is a leading light in the world of melodeon teaching, known for her perceptive, patient and mindful manner in teaching groups and individuals, both on and offline. Having been teaching since 2009, Mel has an ever expanding toolkit of techniques at her disposal which she adapts to every new teaching scenario; expect a bespoke blend of learning-by-ear, call and response playing, analogies, visualisations and pattern recognition, tune deconstruction and notation in moderation. Mel is a consummate performer, vocalist and accompanist and can be seen on stage as one third of Anglo-European trio Moirai and playing for the vibrant Harlequin Morris