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Author Topic: Halsway Melodeon/Leveret weekend  (Read 2000 times)

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Thrupenny Bit

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Re: Halsway Melodeon/Leveret weekend
« Reply #40 on: June 26, 2019, 07:19:56 AM »

Yes, totally agree with Greg.
Developing a 'quick ear' is an advantage, and that improves with practice.
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Thrupenny Bit

I think I'm starting to get most of the notes in roughly the right order...... sometimes!

Steve_freereeder

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Re: Halsway Melodeon/Leveret weekend
« Reply #41 on: June 26, 2019, 07:23:40 AM »

Whilst I know it should be regarded only as a broad guide and perhaps not taken too literally, I am a little surprised that Halsway Manor's "playing levels" emphasises sight-reading at "Advanced Intermediates" and "Advanced Professional" levels, and even "Lower Intermediates" are expected to read music.  It also suggests that at the two highest levels you should 'probably' be playing 2+ rows and 12 or 18 basses.  I can think of a number of highly-regarded players who wouldn't meet these criteria, especially the second, including some professionals.

Others have questioned them too. Having been asked to review them for use in other workshops, I have concluded that the Halsway Manor ability levels are over-detailed and too prescriptive.

Melodeons in Wensleydale, EATMT, and others that I am involved with now use (with his permission) a version of Dave Townsend's Melodeons at Witney ability levels which seem to be just about right. Here's our version, applicable to both melodeons and concertinas. It seems to work very well.

Basic Level (B)
Musicians who can play a few tunes, know their way around the main notes of the instrument, and have some knowledge of note-names, written music and/or chord-symbols. On melodeon, they will have begun to use the left-hand bass and chord buttons.

Intermediate Level (I)
Musicians who can play in the usual keys of the instrument, have knowledge of where to find all the notes, a fair idea of rhythm, and can follow at a reasonable pace. They will have started to learn to control the sounds (i.e. loudness and attack), to consider musical style, and perhaps to experiment with harmony and ornamentation.

Higher Level (H)
Musicians who can play with a degree of fluency, understand the layout of the instrument, can find notes as required, and keep a fair rhythm and pace. They will be exploring various aspects of their music such as style, phrasing, dynamics, accents, rhythms, harmony, ornamentation and technique.
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Thrupenny Bit

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Re: Halsway Melodeon/Leveret weekend
« Reply #42 on: June 26, 2019, 07:31:20 AM »

That makes a lit of sense Steve.
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Thrupenny Bit

I think I'm starting to get most of the notes in roughly the right order...... sometimes!

Julian S

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Re: Halsway Melodeon/Leveret weekend
« Reply #43 on: June 26, 2019, 07:55:13 AM »

I certainly think that being able both to sight read and learn by ear is great (but would say that the latter is the more important skill to develop). Just my opinion of course ! I've never done any teaching of melodeon - definitely don't have sufficient patience, but if I ever contemplated this I'd be looking at techniques to help others develop this key skill. There are probably threads elsewhere on this  >:E

I've already commented on skill level - I do think the Halsway levels are misleading. Last weekend I reckon that my skill levels dropped to low intermediate by Saturday evening (and below that the next morning) due to a combination of lack of sleep, the sheer exhaustion from concentrated learning, emotional drain and stress from a recent family bereavement (our cat companion of twenty years)...and just a few drinks.
And of course the teaching approach of different tutors can suit some more than others. Within those levels, some might have more experience with improvisation, cross rowing, the use of the whole keyboard, chord combinations....and so on. Over a weekend there is never enough time to absorb and process learning, practise new tunes or techniques - I've certainly taken a lot on board to work on for years.
And I've only got a session tonight, practice today for stressful gig tomorrow, and back to Halsway for Leveret weekend on Friday. Back to beginner skill level by then I reckon.

Until next year (but maybe reunion at Shrewsbury festival or elsewhere...)

Julian
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Helena Handcart

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Re: Halsway Melodeon/Leveret weekend
« Reply #44 on: June 26, 2019, 08:28:04 AM »

Whilst I know it should be regarded only as a broad guide and perhaps not taken too literally, I am a little surprised that Halsway Manor's "playing levels" emphasises sight-reading at "Advanced Intermediates" and "Advanced Professional" levels, and even "Lower Intermediates" are expected to read music.  It also suggests that at the two highest levels you should 'probably' be playing 2+ rows and 12 or 18 basses.  I can think of a number of highly-regarded players who wouldn't meet these criteria, especially the second, including some professionals.

I agree - and actually felt strongly enough about this to contact Halsway about it some months ago. Aside from the stuff about reading music the fact that it appears to fall into the trap of more buttons = better is disappointing and their definitions would bar at least one or two of their own tutors from being classed as 'advanced' or 'professional' players.

While it is pleasing that Halsway embrace such a variety of musical traditions, their recommended playing levels for melodeon appear to favour European styles of playing, overlooking our wonderful home-grown styles, including the fabulous one-row traditions that exist.

It rather saddens me that this is the case for a folk arts centre in England. Ho hum.
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Thrupenny Bit

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Re: Halsway Melodeon/Leveret weekend
« Reply #45 on: June 26, 2019, 09:18:38 AM »

I replied, as requested, giving my level and made the point that I 'only' play a 2 row 8 bass and aspire to nothing more.
More buttons does not mean better.

As this thread has had a lot of recent feedback, I'm sure (know) these comments will be picked up by the people concerned and fed back.

As to actual ability levels, mine too dropped dramatically as the weekend evolved. By sunday I was struggling simply because I was very tired and my brain had been mislaid somewhere....which accounted for the lack of brain to fingers connection in the last workshop!
.... but that is *exactly* what should happen!
It means I've accumulated a lot of information and advice to take away and absorb slowly over time to make me a better player.
The ability levels are a minor quibble that had no obvious affect at the weekend. It was just a stunningly good weekend that will give me food for thought for a long time!

...and talking of food, that was excellent too!
What more do you want?
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Thrupenny Bit

I think I'm starting to get most of the notes in roughly the right order...... sometimes!

Howard Jones

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Re: Halsway Melodeon/Leveret weekend
« Reply #46 on: June 26, 2019, 10:29:30 AM »

I agree with Helena that the emphasis on reading music does seem inappropriate for folk, and the implication that 'more' means 'better' seems to disregard our own native styles. 

I think I am confident enough in my own playing not to be deterred by Halsway's descriptions (although I might want to check whether an individual course would be largely working from music, or was specifically aimed at exploring the larger instruments), but some players might be. 
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