“Without music, life would be a blank to me”
— Jane Austen
quote ≠ endorse

Twyford
Folk Music
Workshop

New members’ briefing

The information here and elsewhere on this site should give you a pretty good idea of what we have to offer.

These briefing notes for new and potential members are a little more detailed, and aim to answer the sorts of questions most people have:

PDF Briefing notes (2 pages)

If you have further questions, or just wish to discuss any uncertainties or concerns, please get in touch.

“My playing came on more in 6 months of playing with others than in 20 years of practising solo”

Aim

The aim of Twyford Folk Music Workshops is to give players interested in folk/country dance/traditional music an opportunity to practise and improve their playing from sheet music. They are neither music lessons nor rehearsals: the work in workshop comes from group members preparing beforehand, then listening humbly to the other musicians in the group as we all try to perform the tune in its full spriteliness and beauty.

Meetings

We meet at Loddon Hall, Twyford, on the first Wednesday of the month, from 8.00 pm prompt to 10.00 pm. Exceptions:

There is a charge of £4.00¹ for the evening, including half-time tea or coffee. No subscription is required: you only pay when you turn up.

Sheet music

Scores for all the music we play are available from the Members’ area of this website – access details are given after joining.

We also use the 200-page Paul Hardy Session tunebook, which you can download free. A printed copy costs £11.00¹ (inc. P&P). You don’t need the Hardy book, but as a source of 600 tunes many members find it attractive.

There are not many power points in the rooms we use, so if you view music on a tablet make sure it is charged before the workshop.

Workshop format

Workshops follow the same pattern as the typical programme. I email the programme in advance, including access details for the Members’ area so you can obtain the scores. You can also view future programmes there.

“Most of the others are better players than me, but they all seem to come for the joy of playing. The atmosphere is really comfortable and encouraging”

In the first half the pace is slow and anyone can ask for the speed to be taken down. In the second half we aim to play at dance speed, and some tunes will be technically demanding. This format has evolved because we have a very varied skill/experience level, ranging from very little to grade 8 and beyond.

Sight-reading is a chance for members to nominate a tune for the group, either from Hardy or by submitting a score in advance. Tunes should be within the range of instruments in the group, which I will check before we play. The person who nominates the tune starts the tune, normally with a 4 or 8 bar intro.

Some tunes will be started with a “long intro”, when a member volunteers (in advance) to play a short solo.

We play from the music in front of us so that we are all playing the same version, to avoid discords.

We do not criticise wrong notes and we do not allow snippy remarks about anyone’s playing.

I make sure that we cover the whole programme on the night, to ensure that practice time is rewarded.

Philosophy

Finally, it is my deliberate policy to run a well organised (some might say formal) evening where the less experienced can gain confidence and no-one is competing to be the best or fastest or widest repertoire player. There are sessions nearby that are less formal and less structured. If my event does not suit then I can direct you to these other sessions.

¹as of April 2018 – subject to change

I suggest you come along when you are free and see if the event suits you. (Please let me know you are coming.)

Best regards,

Colin McEwen

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