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Northumbrian Small Pipes Weekend

Friday 6 Mar 4pm — Sunday 8 Mar 10am, 2020

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, tutor's gig, all meals & accommodation):

  • £250 – single ensuite room
  • £215– sharing an ensuite room
  • £215– single non-ensuite room
  • £170 – sharing non-ensuite room

Camping per person (tuition, activities, tutor's gig, all meals):

  • £160

Non Resident (tuition, activities, tutor's gig, all meals except breakfast):

  • £150

Hosted by Christine Corkett with a great team of tutors – Andy May, Pauline Cato,  Chris Evans, Rob Say and Francis Wood – this popular workshop weekend gives everyone from absolute beginners to intermediate and more advanced players a thoroughly enjoyable opportunity to develop their abilities, technique and repertoire. There’s introductions and sessions on Friday evening, followed by a full programme of workshops, sessions, and informal performances, with the option to take a bit of time out on the Saturday afternoon should you want to.

View the welcome letter here: NSP2020_Welcome

Click here to download the programme: NSP Weekend @ Halsway 2020

And click here for the programme for the Taster Day (Saturday): NSP Taster Day @ Halsway 2020

Here’s each tutor’s advance music – in each case you’ll find the simpler (Basic level) tunes first, getting progressively more tricky. Please make sure you print out and bring a copy of the music with you:

Andy’s Workshop Tunes
Chris’ Workshop Tunes
Pauline’s Workshop Tunes
Rob’s Workshop Tunes

This year as part of the NSP Weekend programme we will be offering optional workshops on Saturday afternoon, or you’re free to take some time off if you prefer. We’ll announce these at the Weekend.

A note re. Sunday, Francis Wood will be offering a Basic Technique workshop throughout the morning; you are welcome to drop into this at any point if you feel you will find this useful, whatever your level. Typically, this group will include a range of abilities, including beginners and also more experienced players who are experiencing some problems or frustrations with their playing.

We’ll be looking at practical aspects of playing and maintenance including things like:

  • Assembling pipes and protecting them
  • Posture and hand position
  • Using the bellows in the most efficient and relaxed way
  • Maintaining a steady pressure
  • Tuning the drones
  • Use of chanter keys
  • Simple maintenance and adjustment
  • Problem diagnosis – is it the pipes or me?
  • Practice routine and tips
  • Participating in playing sessions

If most (or all) of our Basic level students decide it will be useful to work with Francis on Sunday, we will re-deploy the talents of Andy & Pauline to run additional workshops aimed at Intermediate and Advanced levels; we’ll make this decision over the weekend, once we’ve had a chance to meet everyone and see where the demand lies.

Who’s it For?

This popular workshop weekend is designed to give everyone from beginners to intermediate and advanced level players a thoroughly enjoyable opportunity to develop their abilities, technique and repertoire.

“If you work at something with guidance, as you have to on a course like this, there is always a benefit. Thanks to excellent tutors.” 2017 Participant

This year, in addition to our usual classes for intermediate and advanced players, we will be running a ‘Basic Technique’ class for players with little experience. You’ll work with two tutors over the weekend, helping you to establish solid foundations to your playing and leave with ideas and encouragement to help you progress. More experienced players are welcome to join this group for some of the weekend if they think it would be useful to them.

More experienced students will be divided into ability-level groups, and you’ll have opportunities to work with four different tutors over the weekend. Music will be available in advance.

For complete beginners, check out our Northumbrian Smallpipes Taster Day, a hands-on one-day introduction to the pipes, led by Francis Wood with simple sets of pipes available to borrow.

 The Team

Andy May was introduced to the smallpipes by his father Stan, later learning from Roland Lofthouse and Adrian Schofield, and from studying the recordings of Billy Pigg and Tom Clough. Through the 90s Andy entered many piping competitions and studied music at the University of York with the pipes as his chosen instrument. Andy has been a full-time musician since 2002, with the Andy May Trio, UK/Finnish/Danish ensemble Baltic Crossing, and with North-East band Jez Lowe and the Bad Pennies. Andy is a notable pipemaker, learning much from his father, and also Colin Ross, and teaches on the folk music degree course at Newcastle University.

Pauline Cato with her extremely accurate staccato approach, has brought a fresh and exciting sound to the Northumbrian bagpipe tradition. While she’s has shown a mastery of the traditional repertoire of Billy Pigg and Tom Clough, Cato become known for her unique bagpipe renditions of songs by such folk-like songwriters as Richard Thompson and Jay Ungar. In addition to performing as a soloist and in a duo with McConville, Cato has worked with Alistair Anderson and the Northern Sinfonia Orchestra in the opera Cullecoates Tommy. Cato has become a highly respected instructor and has taught courses in the United Kingdom, Germany, and the United States.

Chris Evans a regular tutor on courses at Halsway Manor and an experienced tutor.

Rob Say is also a regular tutor on these courses at Halsway Manor and an experienced tutor.

Francis Wood  another seasoned Halsway tutor on the Northumbrian smallpipes weekend. Francis has a particular interest in teaching beginner bagpipers and supporting new pipers in their musical journey.