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!
The wheel of the year turns very, very quickly! It's less than five weeks until we fill Halsway Manor with nyckelharpas again. Smaller than the September weekend, but definitely bigger than last April! I'm still busy prepping and don't feel like I'll have everything done in time. But the weekend will arrive and so will we and it will be fun! I've been busy filming all the tunes I'm going to teach ready to turn them into #tunefridays. I'm still very, very busy with the Saturday night show. I've put a playlist below which doesn't really tell you anything useful about the show.... or does it?
The next beginners workshop in Essex on the 5th March is now full, so I've put up a possible date in April - Sunday 30th April. This date is movable, so if you're the first to get in touch you get to request a date!
Happy New Year!
After the excitement of Holby City last week it's back to business as usual. The workshop day on the 5th March filled up in record time, so a second day has been put in the workshop. One space is already filled - leaving just three.
It's been a very exciting week here! The nyckelharpa has hit prime time BBC1. It may have only been a passing soap opera appearance, but there it most definitely was! In the grand scheme of being an extra on a soap opera it had quite a good showing - Holby City, series 19, episode 13, I do I do I do.
It was a most excellent day and you can still catch up with the episode on the BBC website. If you're out of the country and want to see the episode it can sometimes be found on Youtube, we're not sure it's supposed to be on youtube, so this link might not work after a while, so just search it if it doesn't.
We also made the soundtrack of the Behind the Scenes video, hardened nyckelharpa players will of course recognise the music. In fact they'll recognise all the music that was played:
Bridal March: Jämtlands Brudmarsch Recessional: Polska efter Byss-Calle Nr. 32 First Waltz: Fikavalsen Dance: Härjedalsschottish
Fikavalsen (the first dance music) has been digitally released, so you can stream it on spotify or just simply buy the download! Check the details of how to get it on the Swan-Dyer website.
Our Ella, the second tutor for the March course was also in the episode as one of the dancers and wedding guests. So we can now say that the tutors for the March weekend at Halsway Manor are all movie stars! Ella will also be leading a dance workshop at the weekend to help people get to grips with the polska and other dances. The picture below shows Ella in the blue dress on the left and Vicki, of course, playing the nyckelharpa. (The March course is now fully booked.)
Check out the secret playlist below for some goodies.
It was a lot of fun and a memory I will treasure for ever!
We may have mentioned that we (Jonny and myself) undertook a secret mission at the end of September. The fruits of our labour can only really be revealed at the start of January - (unless you happened to be there, which being as nyckelharpa players mostly visit this site, is quite large). We finished the mission and at once went and re-recorded Fikavalsen and set it to release in good time before the big day. (3rd January, 8pm BBC1) So here is one of the tunes that hopefully (unless the scene has been cut!) you should recognise. Available for digital download in all good digital download stores, or just set your spotify on repeat....
A weblink to where you can see the secret project.... tba
In Swedish 'fika' is to have a cup of strong coffee with a cinnamon (or any kind of) bun. As often as possible. It is a Swedish institution to stop for fika. Swedes drink really strong coffee. This waltz was written to be calming when you've had too much caffeine.
Back in September 2016 Jonny and I were called in to take part in some filming for the BBC. We ended up using this tune for one of the themes. We got home and re-recorded it (it's on Gleowien, which is now sold out) and we've released it in readiness for January 3rd. Once the episode has aired we'll add to this page! In the meantime we're keeping very quiet, except for the music! Enjoy that and watch out for it (unless it got cut!!!) January 3rd BBC1 - 8pm. (That's a tiny hint!)
Vicki: nyckelharpa and oktav-nyckelharpa
Jonny: piano and bass