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Halsway DG Melodeon Weekend

Friday 10 May 4pm — Sunday 12 May 4pm, 2024

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

lots of melodeons in a row in the garden of Halsway Manor

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

£310– single ensuite room
£265– sharing an ensuite room
£265– single non-ensuite room
£210– sharing non-ensuite room

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


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


Halsway’s hugely popular weekend dedicated to the DG melodeon returns in 2024!

Melodeon players can spend time with their instrument in a supportive programme packed with workshops to take your playing to the next level.  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. The programme includes workshops designed to take your playing to the next level. Each group will spend time with each tutor.  In addition to the workshop programme there will be some additional time to socialise and take part in informal sessions.

The tutors will give an informal concert on the Saturday evening.

The tutor details are being finalised so please watch this space for this year’s line up, and make sure to reserve your place as this popular weekend books-up well in advance!

Who is 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.

After you book you’ll be asked to select the group which best suits your current ability level so that we can keep group sizes manageable. During the weekend, if you feel you’re playing at a different level would suit you better, there will be the possibility to move group at the tutors’ discretion. The three tutors will work with all three groups. So every group will have experience of learning from each of the tutors.

Please make sure you read our Halsway Workshop Levels guide, to help you choose the most appropriate group.

The groups are:

  • Foundation
    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.
  • Intermediate
    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.
  • Advanced
    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 usually 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.

The Team

John Kirkpatrick has been dancing, singing, and playing his way around the English folk scene since he joined Hammersmith Morris Men in 1959 at the age of twelve. Displaying a rare skill on a variety of push-pull squeezeboxes – the melodeon, the button accordion, and the Anglo concertina – he has been fully professional since 1970, not only with vast amounts of solo appearances, but also in all kinds of duos, trios, and bands – including spells in Steeleye Span, The Albion Band, Trans Europe Diatonique, in a long term duo with Roy Bailey, Band of Hope, lengthy stints with Richard Thompson’s Band, The Sultans of Squeeze, and Brass Monkey. In the mid 1990s he led his own John Kirkpatrick Band. More recently he replaced John Tams as the lead singer with folk-rock band Home Service, and now Mr Tams is back in the fold again, the two Johns share singing duties. Since the demise of Brass Monkey, John appears in an occasional duo with Martin Carthy.

He is still an unrelentingly enthusiastic morris dancer, and started one of England’s most influential teams – The Shropshire Bedlams. And he still finds time to play for dancing, currently in a band with all his four sons – Kirkophany.

Out in the wide world John has contributed music, song, and dance to a great number of plays in the theatre, and to a lesser extent radio, television, and film. As a virtuoso session player his squeezeboxes can be heard on hundreds of recordings, and as a creator of new work in all these fields he has established an enviable reputation.

Two more tutors will be announced shortly.