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Learning By Ear

Friday 14 Jun 4pm — Sunday 16 Jun 4pm, 2024

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


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):


Do you struggle to pick up tunes by ear? Would you like to be freed from behind your music stand? Experienced musicians and tutors Rob Harbron and Miranda Rutter are bringing a brand new course to Halsway Manor, designed to help you get to grips with the essential ‘folk’ skill of learning by ear.

You’ll learn different techniques and strategies to improve your confidence to play by ear in solo and ensemble contexts, using some accessible folk tunes as a starting point. Once you’ve got the hang of those, you’ll have chance to play them with other people, and even go on to think about how you might turn the tables and teach them to someone else!

Learning will mostly take place in a big group, guided by the tutors, with some time in small groups, both guided and self-led. You won’t need to prepare anything in advance.

Who is it for?

The course is suitable for melody players with an interest in folk tunes. All instruments in the key of C are welcome, including diatonic instruments. You don’t need to be able to read music, but unsurprisingly, you do need to be open to the possibility of learning by ear!

This course is not suitable for players who are complete beginners but if you can play at least a few tunes and want to establish or improve your ability to play by ear, then this could be the perfect chance to give it a go. You’re advised to bring a recording device with you (most phones have this capability now).

The Team

Rob Harbron is a uniquely skilled player of the English concertina, described by The Guardian as a ‘concertina wizard’ and renowned for his highly individual and harmonic style of playing. He is a member of Leveret (alongside Sam Sweeney and Andy Cutting), with whom he has toured extensively and released four landmark albums.

Known for his work with a wide range of artists including Jon Boden and the Remnant Kings, Emma Reid, and The Full English, he has also worked extensively with the National Youth Folk Ensemble and the Royal Shakespeare Company. Now he is exploring solo playing with a repertoire which includes settings of rediscovered traditional tunes as well as his many fine compositions. His debut solo album Meanders was released in 2019 and he has recently published a tunebook containing 54 original and adapted tunes.

Miranda Rutter is a fiddle and viola player, composer, and educator. She is a founder member of the folk string quartet Methera and a much sought-after tutor, having being involved with many National Youth Folk Ensemble courses and as part of the English Acoustic Collective Summer School team.