Our DG Weekends at Halsway are hugely popular and book-up well in advance. We’re delighted to be welcoming Anne Niepold and Hazel Askew back to the team, along with Cohen Braithwaite Kilcoyne. Box-doctor Theo Gibb has also agreed to join us for the weekend, to offer informal advice about tuning, maintenance, repairs and improvements – and to better help you understand your box and its potential.
This weekend is not aimed at total beginners*. You’ll need to have a basic grasp of your instrument – as a guide you should at least be able to play simple tunes with both hands together – with plenty to inspire and challenge more experienced and accomplished musicians. There will be a busy programme of workshops (each group will spend time with each tutor) plus time to socialise and take part in informal sessions plus an informal tutor’s concert on the Saturday evening.
Who’s it For?
Players of the D/G melodeon (diatonic button accordion) of all levels except complete beginners*. You’ll need a DG melodeon (2 row, 8 bass as a minimum). The course is taught predominantly by ear at all levels.
We’ll be asking you when you book to pre-select the group which best suits your current ability level so that we can keep group sizes manageable. If – come the weekend – you feel you’re in the wrong place, there will be the possibility to move group at the tutors’ discretion. The three tutors will work with all three groups, allowing you the experience of learning from each of them.
Please make sure you read our Halsway Workshop Levels guide, to help you choose the most appropriate group.
The groups are:
Aimed at 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!
Box Advice: We will likely include a formal chat / demo session with Theo at some point in the weekend but additionally Theo will be available to chat to at breaktimes / evenings to offer individual advice and answer your questions. He won’t be offering a full-on, free repair service! But he’ll help with quick fixes and offer advice on any bigger issues which might need addressing.
Hazel Askew (Lady Maisery, Askew Sisters) is a singer, multi-instrumentalist and composer from London, creating powerful music inspired by the folk traditions of England and beyond. She is one of the country’s leading melodeon players and one of the most experienced melodeon teachers in the UK. She developed the melodeon courses for EFDSS’s Saturday Folk Music School, which she still leads and has run courses/workshops for many organisations including Halsway Manor, FolkWorks at The Sage Gateshead, Melodeons & More, Adderbury Music Weekends and various festivals across the country. Hazel also teaches freelance workshops and one to one lessons, and long-distance over Skype!
Cohen Braithwaite-Kilcoyne is well known on the English folk scene for his work with the BBC Radio 2 Folk Award nominated trio ‘Granny’s Attic’ and as a soloist. Originally from Birmingham, Cohen developed a keen love for melodeons and concertinas while still at primary school. Cohen’s main passion is for English traditional music and song, but his musical interests run broader than that, into Baroque music, ragtime and Victorian popular music – and he has been known to throw all of these into his performances and teaching. Cohen is an experienced teacher and has worked with students of all ages in workshops and on a one-on-one basis, both in England and abroad.
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.
Theo Gibb (The Box Place) offers a first class repair, tuning and sale service for melodeons (and concertinas), from tuning and small repairs, to complete rebuilds of older instruments. The ‘go-to’ specialist for may of our best known musicians, Theo says “As a customer, you can expect me to take time to listen to you and to discover precisely how you want your instrument set up. I will work closely with you to understand the sound you want, and how you want your instrument to respond as you play. My quality control is based on the width of your smile when I put your instrument back in your hands.” He can found chatting about all things squeezebox on discussion forums at melodeon.net and concertina.net.