Halsway Melodeon Playing Levels

These guidelines are to help you understand whether a course is suitable for you – and whether you are a suitable candidate for the course as well. Please do not make a booking for a course where your ability level does not meet the required standard; it makes it very difficult for both the tutor(s) and the other students, and you are unlikely to get the best learning experience. Please also be realistic about how far you will progress if booking a course a long way in advance!

Please get in touch if you are unsure; it can be really hard to assess your own ability level, and we’re happy to help you decide.

Level 0: Absolute Beginner!

  • You have no prior experience at all and don’t even know which way up it goes
  • You may be completely new to music
  • You may need to borrow an instrument to try (this is something we can arrange)

Level 1: Beginner

  • You might have just started playing, with a lesson or two under your belt
  • Or you may have been playing for longer without feeling you’re getting very far…
  • You are mainly playing right hand; getting the left hand to work as well is a bit of a task!
  • When learning new tunes, you need to take things very slowly
  • Playing in a group environment might be new to you
  • You have your own 2-row, 8 bass instrument

Level 2: Improver

  • You are able to play a few simple tunes (eg. Winster Gallop, Banbury Bill etc) using both hands together
  • You can use the left-hand bass and chord buttons in simple rhythms
  • Right and left hand co-ordination is still tricky!
  • Row crossing is a dark art…
  • Learning new tunes – from music or by ear – takes a bit of time
  • You probably play a two-row, 8 bass instrument

Level 3: Lower Intermediates

  • You can play simple tunes – using both hands – in different keys (eg. D, G, E minor)
  • You’ll have some knowledge of playing different repertoire and styles
  • You have a pretty good idea of where to find all the notes on the treble end
  • You know where to find your basses and chords on the left hand
  • You can play a variety of left hand rhythms
  • You are crossing rows
  • You are able to read music and to pick up tunes by ear, albeit at a steady pace
  • You probably play a two-row, 8 bass instrument

Level 4: Advanced Intermediates

  • You can play with a degree of fluency across a variety of repertoire and styles
  • You fully understand the layout of your instrument
  • You can quickly find notes as required
  • You are becoming confident playing across the rows
  • You can keep a good rhythm and pace
  • You are exploring aspects such as style, phrasing, dynamics, accents, and ornamentation
  • You can sight read and also learn tunes by ear at a reasonable pace
  • You might now be playing a two-and-a-half or 3 row instrument, with 12/14/18 basses, and be exploring how to use it
  • Or you might be a motivated player of a two-row, 8 bass instrument, that’s fine too

Level 5: Advanced / Professional

  • You can play fluently across a variety of repertoire and styles
  • You can sight read and learn quickly by ear
  • You play confidently across the rows
  • You can improvise
  • You’ve developed a personal style and musicality
  • You are experienced playing and arranging sympathetically with others
  • You probably play a three-row, 12/18 bass, or a two-and-a-half row instrument, with 12 basses, and can make use of the additional possibilities the system allows you
  • If you play a two-row, but are otherwise sure you meet the description of an advanced player, then please contact us to check suitability.
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