I've just come home from an amazing week at Halsway Manor. This is the 11th course that I've run at this amazing place and every time I come I fall more and more in love with it. The idea of this particular course was to give people something to really get their teeth into. A week of instrument learning - yes, we did tunes, but the idea was for me to really teach the instrument and help people get the best out of it.
This was a week course to allow us to really get down
to important technique and not turn everyone's brain to mush! The group size was kept small so that I could give everyone more attention and give some 1-2-1 lessons. We had time to work on musicianship skills, go for an evening trip out to the amazing Pebbles Tavern in Watchet and even go up into the Quantocks to blow the cobwebs away.
It felt good to be putting together some hefty teaching materials and I've got some good ideas of how to take them forwards to next year's advanced course. The date is already decided. 3rd - 7th June 2019.
Numbers will be limited to 10 again, so if you'd like to come get your name down on my list now! I suspect there may be a waiting list....
In between now and then though we have the full festival weekend in September and the next beginners/intermediate next March! We've got another 3 spaces to fill on the September course before I declare it full, so get in touch now!!
Hope to see you soon!
In three days time I will be at Halsway Manor again, this time teaching a more advanced nyckelharpa course. This week is adding the third stage of nyckelharpa tuition - the advanced people. I've tried to make this a real instrument learning course, something to really give my instrument music teaching skills a good workout.
I've plotted and planned and scheduled and worked quite hard to create something a little bit different. Sometimes learning music isn't about the musical instrument itself so a lot of my development time has been devising different ways of teaching.
We'll see what happens - but as long as everyone comes out the other side being better musicians and able to get around their instrument better, then my job will be done! See you all on the other side!
There's been a lot of talk about GDPR recently and everyone making sure they're compliant. So I decided it was time to do something a little more official with my mailing list! So far I've only used a little piece of software that I can use to email a lot of people all at once, which is great for contacting all the people coming to a particular course, but to do the main mailings out to advertise weekends I've decided to make it more official and use mail chimp. So if you'd like to be emailed about the Halsway courses - sign up now.
These videos take quite a lot of time to put together, especially the ones where I play as an ensemble. So I choose to monetise the videos with adsense. To be honest the ads never really brought in much money, I've had some donations, I think the tally at the moment comes out that I have earned around £1 per video, not bad I suppose, but they all take between 1 - 6 hours to make depending on the complexity of the video. I love making these videos and will continue to make them.
Youtube are just about to change the rules for being eligible to monetise the videos which means I will have to have 1000 subscribers and 4000 hours of listen time in the last 365 days. Read all about it on the BBC website - click here.
This is tough. At the time of writing I have around 420 subscribers (Up around 100 on last week due to some frantic social networking!) and around 1000 hours of listen time. I could just give up on the adverts and maybe spend less time on the complicated videos. I could decide to really go for it and reach the new criteria. I could ask for more donations. I'm quite stuck. I love making these videos and I believe they make a difference in bringing the nyckelharpa to an ever wider audience.
So - if you're reading this and you like my videos. Help me not to have to make a choice. Definitely subscribe and if you feel inspired and that these videos have helped you. Do think about donating so I can keep making the really cool multi-layered videos like the ones below.
Happy New Year to all 'harpa players everywhere! The countdown is set to the first Halsway course of the year. The original plan was only to have one class in March - but just like last year the signups went nuts! So I've asked Ella again to be my second tutor for the weekend. I've been tasked with amassing an amazing ten instruments. So hopefully there will be a whole heap of new harpa players by the end of the weekend!
It's going to be an exciting nyckelharpa time at Halsway this year with three different courses!
In March we have the Beginners and Less Confident players weekend - there are three spaces left if you have your own instrument for intermediates.
In June we have the course for more advanced players. This is a weekday course and the numbers are limited. This is because the teaching will be based around each participant. I'm really excited to be able to be able to focus on the advanced teaching for a few days!
In September we have the full weekend for everyone. Josefina Paulson and Torbjörn Näsbom are the two Swedish tutors and they are amazing! Because of the waiting list for beginners in March - a beginners class in September is about to be opened too.
Very exciting times!
In the meantime it's full steam ahead with lots of different projects. We released a new album in November full to the brim of nyckelharpa and viola d'amore, have a listen! Then visit the Purcell's Polyphonic Party website!
It's December and I'm out on the road for most of the month. But I did manage to get the camera out and record some videos for my #tunefridays. Each tune this month has a nice little video, so keep your eye on this playlist. I'll add the videos to the playlist as they get released each Friday. I've included last years tunes too!
What a weekend! We did it again, we filled Halsway Manor with nyckelharpas! 45 of us split into four groups. I'd like to thank everyone for coming and look forward to another great year next year.
Talking of next year - we have three courses at Halsway Manor and they're all starting to fill up.
The Beginners weekend is nearly full, in fact I expect to be able to close bookings on this in the next week or two and open up a waiting list.For September 2018 there are going to be no complete beginners needing instrument spaces - so March is the date for your diary! If you want the final space, then get in touch asap!
The June course is a weekday course and is slightly longer. The focus will be on technique and there will be time for more individual teaching time and maybe even a walk up to the top of the hill. This course will be much more bespoke for each participant, so even if you don't feel you're quite advanced yet but you feel you could benefit from this week then don't be put off. I will differentiate for each learner. (I'll also let you know if I think March is a better fit for you). This course is also about half filled, so get in touch if you want your name on that list!
Bookings are already starting for September - so if you're after that elusive single room with ensuite bathroom - it's best to get on the phone to Halsway! At the moment I have asked Josefina to come back again for a second year, but the second tutor is yet to be agreed.... watch this space!
It's three weeks until the extravaganza that is the September weekend at Halsway Manor. There is still a lot to be done! We've unfortunately had a couple of people pull out through illness. So there is now one place left for a complete beginner who needs to borrow an instrument. Get straight in touch if you'd like to claim this place!
It's all hands on deck over here! Halsway is fast approaching as ever there is a lot to do! I've been busy making some alterations to the website. My #tunefriday has been running for 18 months now, so I've removed my tunes section on the website and made it link to the blog. You can order it by tune title, type or date. If you're a member of this site I've made a map that shows where people are around the country to help with meeting up with your closest harpa player. (Let me know if you want to be added, there are only a few of us on the map as yet!)
There is a non-beginner workshop coming up in the West of the country. Aimed at people with their own instruments, the workshop will focus on technique, starting to go higher up the instrument and using tunes from the British Isles.
I've just put together the final details for a workshop down in Lewes. It's a mixed sort of workshop, but very led on the nyckelharpa with nyckelharpa players in mind. The workshop is looking like this at the moment. I want to take the participants on a journey. From the old cowhorn tunes, the moraharpa and säckpipa (which between us Jonny and I have been working on a lot in getting the Zorn Bronze award). The I wanted everyone to have a bit of a Byss-Calle experience. Since I got up close and personal with him in the show I wanted to bring him out to play (not literally, although I it is a possible request...) So there should be something for everyone!
Exploring the old tunes, from cowhorn to moraharpa and säckpipa (Swedish pipes).
Byss-Calle – meet the amazing Swedish nyckelharpa master himself; exploring his tunes.
More complicated tunes and rhythms
In summary (I need to keep the titles short and snappy this is what we're looking at.
The bookings for September 2017 actually opened back in September 2016, but we're now at the stage where - if you're thinking of coming, now is the time to book! The rooms are going fast!
I'd really like to try to reach a target of 50 nyckelharpa players all at the manor this year. I'm not sure we can fit that many in in terms of sleeping arrangements. But it's my goal. We are going to have four tutors and I definitely need to have well over 45. We're on 32 right now, so we only need 18 to reach the magi 50. Can we do it?
Book now!! Help me reach my dream number!
There are only two spaces left for people needing an instrument, so if you want one - definitely grab it right now!
Exactly 10 years ago something happened that pretty much changed my life. I flew to Sweden to pick up my first nyckelharpa. I still have that instrument. He gets used in workshops and also as the second instrument when we perform Smörgåsballad. Over the last year my collection has grown to include some of the different types of nyckelharpa. I have the medieval Moraharpa, the 1700s kontrabasharpa, a modern three row chromatic, a violin pitched four row instrument that I have dubbed my button fiddle. (He's for ceilidh playing) and finally my cello-pitched nyckelharpa - called an oktavharpa. I love them all to bits and they all fulfil different things for me. The biggest problem is that there aren't enough hours in the day to practise them all!
This isn't however a complete set. There are at least two other old style harpas that would be required to have them all. (I'm not counting the double bass pitched one, there is currently only one of those in the world and to be honest my double bass would get rather too grumpy for me to get one) But a silverbasharpa would be a nice addition to this little lot. Maybe when I reach my 20 year harpaversary I'll treat myself!
It seemed rather appropriate that the nyckelharpa show went out this close to the harpaversary. Now to find some people who want to put the show on!
It was another fabulous weekend. 22 students, 2 tutors. It's always so good to get together with other nyckelharpa players. This year we were sharing with melodeon makers and they added a certain free-reedy-ness about the evenings.
I ran my nyckelharpa show properly for the first time. It was the fastest get-in with the most tech ever, but it all went very smoothly. I've now released my harpa show website to the world. -> CLICK HERE!
Now the planning is afoot for September, so make sure you get booked up. We're already 2/3rds booked up!
It's finally here! The March weekend at Halsway Manor. We're totally full - 22 places. Which isn't bad as I was aiming for 12. I'm about to sign off before we leave tomorrow. I need to run the harpa show for one last time before packing it all away. Wristbands, name badges, books, flip charts (two this time!) and around 10 nyckelharpas. I hope it'll all fit! It's going to be a weekend to remember!