World Concertina Day is on Sunday 6th Feb 2022, 220 years after the birth of Charles Wheatstone, inventor of the English concertina.
Click here for an overview of the day, which is sponsored by the International Concertina Association.
- The WCCP will be holding an Open Day in “Crewkerne Museum and Heritage Centre”, Market Place, Crewkerne.
Visitors will have a chance to try playing a concertina and to listen to different instruments being played. There will be an opportunity for experienced players to entertain a small audience if they wish. A display on the development of the concertina from other free reed instruments will also be included.
Entry to the Museum is free.
- Forestinas, the concertina group based in the Hampshire/Dorset area are planning a day of all things concertina, at The Greyfriars Community Centre in Ringwood from 10am to 4pm.
Everyone who plays a concertina or even is just interested in concertinas will be welcome to take part.
The programme will include an open rehearsal at 10-00am, with music provided.
There will be various mini recitals throughout the day including duets for two concertinas, shanty singing with concertina accompaniment, Scottish slow airs, and Playford music.
The day will end with a session from 3pm playing pieces with or without music, with an onvitation to non-concertina playing musicians to join in.
All events will be subject to any Covid restrictions in force on the day.
We have recently returned from the Quantock Lodge weekend for beginners and improvers. There were nearly 70 attendees (including tutors), who played Duet, Anglo or English concertinas (or sometimes more than one) – every squeezer is welcome, regardless of system or standard!
The beginner groups received a lot of help to learn the basics of the instrument as well as receiving more inspiration for further aspects to develop. Beginners in all groups also learned some of the same tunes, to enable beginner players of any system to be able to play together. Hopefully beginners left the weekend with more confidence and motivation to improve playing this fascinating, squeezy instrument!
Highlights from the weekend included having the opportunity to learn some music by ear and a new folk band stream for intermediate players, with some dancing to go with it! Dave Elliott (with family) attended to maintain or fix any concertina problems and Barleycorn Concertinas brought an impressive range of concertinas for those tempted to buy one (or another one!). The tutors also played some excellent solo performances on the Saturday night; supplemented by the band groups playing tunes, plus the whole group could join in with some folk tunes. After 10.30pm anyone could play anything!
Click here to listen to Paul Hardy's sound recordings from the showcase sessions.
If you are new to the concertina, then please consider coming to Quantock Lodge in October 2022 or joining WCCP!
Just beating the lock down with a wonderful weekend of concertina playing and fun. Tutors (left to right) Claire Wren (Band), Tim Laycock (Duets), Sandra Kerr (English), Brian Peters (Anglo) and Dave, Di & Amanda Elliott (Maintenance & Repairs)
and then everybody....
What a happy but exhausting day!
54 players plus a few non-playing partners meant the hall was absolutely buzzing.
Arthur started the morning by leading a tune from the Purple Folder to ease us into the day and get our fingers warmed up. Whilst the beginners had tuition from Bob, Mike and David in other rooms. Next, we had five people willing to lead groups, teaching songs and/or tunes to play in the afternoon; mostly Scottish, as befits the season. Plus "Ring of Fire" … but then - the theme was "Burns"! The group in the hallway was very tolerant of interruptions from others needing to access the kitchen or loos. We finished the morning learning tunes for this afternoons dances with Chris and Mike, whilst some brave people practiced the dances in any space they could find.
Our "Bring and Share" lunch was, as usual, sumptuous. With a huge variety of delicious and often unusual dishes. For the first time, the vegetarian/vegan section matched that of the meat section in terms of both size and variety.
As for the desserts.....
We spent the afternoon in the company of Ray Goodswen, who came along again to call the dances in our Ceilidh. We invited players to bring along other instruments to play in the dance bands to give variety to the music and for authenticity. Between the four dances, the five "Burns" tunes learned in the morning were played, along with several party pieces either in groups, duets or individually.
To finish, we played our usual going home tune "Meadow in May". Followed, of course, by "AuldLang Syne".
We intentionally brought the day to a close a little earlier this year and asked for everyone to help with the clearing up. This was because last year, a handful of us were still trying to do it at 6pm when the cleaner arrived!
True to W.C.C.P. form, most people were all hands on deck and we were able to vacate the tidy hall just after 5pm, which was great. That's one of the things I love about our organisation; the way we all pull together to help each
other in so many ways. The team thanks each and every one of those who came. For help with moving chairs and tables, setting the food out and clearing it up, washing up during the day and staying to clear up at the end.
Thanks also for volunteering to lead sessions,teach beginners, teach shared tunes, offer to help in the various teams... and for coming along and playing.
Happy new year to you all.
The Ruishton Team
Photograph taken by Christopher Pointeer and reproduced here wqith permission.
A lovely March residential weekend was held at Halsway Manor. This was a return to an old and happy venue after a gap of more than 20 years and it felt like returning to a comfortable home!
Tutors (All amazing) :
Photograph taken by Christopher Pointeer and reproduced here wqith permission.
- Dave Elliott - Concertina Maintenance
- Claire Wren - Intermediate Band
- Michael Hebbert - Duets
- Alex Wade - English
- Cohen Braithwaite-Kilcoyne - Anglos
For a full report on the Halsway 2019 event click here.
Don't forget to keep a place in your diary for the 2020 March event 13th to 15th March, 2020 Halsway Manor.
Forty people attended this year. And during the day Di signed up our 200th member.
The hall was truly "buzzing" and again we had a wonderful spread for the shared lunch.
It's great that, although we just leave it to everyone to bring "anything", there is always a good variety and balance between savoury, sweet, healthy food and treats to enjoy.
Always too much of course!
Alan Dyer moved away last year but he was in Somerset so he came to the party and kindly agreed to lead the Purple Folder session.
There were three lovely "winter" themed tunes learned in groups for the Showcase and five individual/duo/trio party pieces.
Andrew Stevens gave a "MuseScore" presentation in the afternoon whilst those not needing to attend played tunes with Pete Hill and Arthur Brine.
The "Raucous Chorus" of "Here We Come a Wassailing" and "Auld Lang Syne" included flutes, clarinets, ukuleles, whistles, recorders and even a washboard!
We would like to thank everyone who came along and helped out.
There were people in the kitchen. People setting up tables, chairs and food. People willing to lead groups and help beginners. People to look after instruments and equipment. People to manage the merchandise. And people to help clear up at the end of the day.
I wonder how many clubs can boast that they have such willing members who can work so well together?
Here's to another great year for the West Country Concertina Players!
Kate Stokes (Ruishton Team Leader)
The October residential weekend put on by the WCCP moved venue from Kilve Court to Quantock Lodge just a few miles away. This was going to be a big change and a step into the unknown. I was really keen to see the new venue and find out how it would work for the club.
My journey down from Bedford was my usual route across the Chiltern and Cotswold Hills so avoiding the M25 and M4. Friday afternoon was quite pleasant although it did rain briefly. The leaves were turning and the views along the route were wonderful. Once on the M5 I could feel strong side winds but not serious enough to slow me down. The satnav instructed me to leave at junction 23 which took me by surprise as I expected to leave at the next junction. I thought that perhaps I had selected the wrong postcode before starting off so I double checked – the directions were correct and after leaving Bridgwater I had to take a left turn before reaching Kilve to head towards Quantock Lodge. From that point on the roads became narrower and narrower. I turned up the drive into the Lodge grounds and eventually found the entrance to the building and a drivable route to the parking area in front of the house.
Once inside I was impressed by the height and size of the rooms. The weekend organisers were already there helping and guiding people to sign in and find their allocated rooms. There was a welcoming log fire and cups of tea on hand for people as they arrived.
After the Friday evening meal the workshops started in earnest. People dispersed to all corners of the building to do their particular thing.
I had bought myself a Crane Duet at the Swaledale Squeeze last May and was keen to join Paul McCann with his duettists some of whom must be really slow learners as they have been to his beginners’ workshop since the year dot. Apart from me the others were really quite expert on their instruments. Both McCann and Crane duets were represented. Paul started us off with Autumn Child in D major. Everyone else in the group managed to find the notes but for my first piece away from the C major scale it proved too much. I took the sheet music to my bedroom and over the course of the weekend ploughed through it managing to find the notes (if somewhat hesitantly) by the end of play Sunday afternoon. The others went on to play Que Sera Sera, Lovely Nancy, and Allangrange by Paul Machlis. Also Carillon in Goslar (a bit like Monk's March) and Keating's Triumph from the film Dead Poets' Society by Maurice Jarre. These two tunes were performed at the showcase presentation after lunch on Sunday.
I had my own Song Accompaniment Workshop to lead based on the English concertina but equally applicable to other systems. I had not led the workshop for some years and the workshop manual I had originally written has in the meantime undergone numerous changes.
We started off with half the group holding the C on the lower left hand side of the instrument whilst the others played the scale of C major paying particular attention to how note pairs sounded i.e. harmonious or discordant. From there we went through what notes made up a chord, how and where a chord could be played on the instrument and the principle of the three chord trick i.e. a chord progression.
The songs used in the workshop were Kum Ba Ya and Michael Row the Boat Ashore. Starting with Kum Ba Ya we went along the melody line one note at a time and comparing them with the notes used in the chords of the three chord trick. Thus we selected the chords we wanted to play. The test was then to play the chords against the tune either by humming it or having someone else playing it. The final proof on whether the chord selection is good are one’s ears. They are the judge and jury. If at any point the ears were saying that chord is wrong another chord had to be selected until the ears were satisfied. The same process was used for Michael Row the Boat ashore. As the key of C Major would not suit everyone’s voice we looked at transposing the chords for C major into other keys using conversion tables. Finally we split the group in two with one playing the melody and the other playing chords and everyone singing. It never ceases to amaze me how much can be achieved in such a short time. For the workshop presentation we sang both songs and had the whole room join in after the first verse.
Quantock Lodge being so large it allowed for a greater variety of workshops than at Kilve. It is wonderful to have such a choice but it means some people having to decide between two or three options all running at the same time. Other workshop groups included English Beginners led by Colin Sleath, English Ensemble Music - Sally Barrett, Anglo Beginners - Steve Grayland, Anglo Improvers - Andrew Collins, Playing by Ear - Kate Portal, Feeling the Tune - Kate Stokes, Trying Other Systems - Liz Millward, Playing Rounds - Adrian Waters, Slow Session Tunes - Paul Hardy, Band For All (easier band pieces) - Paul Barrett and last but by no means least the Band Workshop with Claire Wren. Keeping us all playing by fixing any problems that our concertinas developed during the weekend was Dave Elliott at his Concertina Repair Workshop.
Saturday after the evening meal the tutors put on a concert showing what the beginners will be doing themselves as they progress in their chosen music genre.
After lunch on the Sunday it was the students’ turn to show the other groups what they had been doing over the weekend with some really polished performances.
The venue worked out to be a big improvement for the Beginners’ Weekend. Quantock Lodge is a fantastic place and the staff there did an amazing job looking after us. The accommodation at least in the main building had very comfortable beds and en suite bathrooms. Once away from the main halls downstairs the rooms were very quiet. You could not hear anything going on outside the bedrooms. There was a fire alarm incident when the alarms went off accidentally (no fire at all) at about 1am Saturday morning. It took a while before the alarm was stopped. Some people even slept through all of it which is a little worrying. The alarm was eventually switched off by the owner who could not hear the alarm as she was still in the kitchen preparing our breakfasts.
It takes a great deal of time and effort to organise the WCCP weekends so on behalf of all who were there I would like to express thanks to Rosemary Kavanagh and her team: Paul McCann and Margaret Foord-Divers with help along the way and at the weekend from Alex Kay, Trish Nicklen and the WCCP Committee.
This article was first published in Concertina World 476 December 2018 the magazine of the International Concertina Association and reproduced here with Martin's permission.
2018 has seen a year of change: this by design not by chance. It was felt by the committee that it needed to upgrade the image of the club and so set about to see where such changes could be made. Basically, the club needed a fresh image.
The first change was the logo: it having served the club well over thirty years we felt the smiley boy should be replaced. And, after much deliberating and experimenting, the new logo was adopted.
We looked to see how we could improve our status; how we operate and are seen in the world. Leaflets and brochures used for advertising at events such as Sidmouth, Weymouth, Bridport and Gillingham now present a more professional image both by colour and print layout and using good quality paper. Our merchandise of bags, notebooks, pens etc bearing the WCCP logo continue to sell well. One area requiring urgent attention was the website and Rosemary took on the task of re-vamping it. This was not just a quick fix and we thank her for all the time she spent on this project.
Other ways in which the club has improved its image is by the purchase of a badge making machine - to allow standardisation of badges, a flip chart and a sound reinforcement system.
Undoubtedly the greatest change however is the change of venue for the March and October residential weekends. During 2017 some committee members investigated Quantock Lodge which is just a few miles east of Kilve. The outcome was that Rosemary formed a team and took on the onerous task of planning and implementing a weekend for up to eighty players. The weekend was a tremendous success and we thank Rosemary and her team for making it so. Feedback was very positive and on the strength of that a provisional booking has been made for 2019.
Some committee members also visited Halsway Manor – a few miles west of Kilve - to explore the possibility of a March weekend. This looked very promising and a team has been formed and Halsway Manor booked for March 2019 and 2020.
While other events have not seen drastic changes, they continue to evolve. Ruishton continues to thrive with ever increasing numbers attending. We thank Kate and her team for producing a varied and enjoyable programme.
Sidmouth, Weymouth and Bridport events continue to fulfil the Objects of the WCCP and the committee thank the respective members who organise these events.
Finally, my thanks to the committee for their time, dedication and enthusiasm, which continues to take the WCCP from strength to strength.
What a great day it turned out to be!
Neither Tony nor Trish were able to make it on Sunday, so an appeal for helpers was sent out a few days before. When I arrived at the hall with the key, there were many early birds who had arrived in response.
The equipment, returning from the wonderful Quantock Lodge Weekend, was swiftly put away, furniture set out ready for the AGM and refreshments served.
We had no printer ink and the local stores had none in stock. But we managed by sharing what music was available and using ﬂip chart paper & initiative!
Another appeal, for "People to do Things" has resulted in almost all of our club instruments having agents. We now have a "Merchandise team" (Di, Kate and Grace), a "Photocopier monitor" (Pete) and a second "Refreshments person" (Liz). I feel very proud of belonging to such a supportive club.
Although the trees are still wearing their splendid autumn outﬁts, November is our Christmas carols month. Claire led the carols using an arrangement - which enabled all levels of players to be included - and the Salvation Army band card books. This was followed by a session led by Alan and Mike using our music from the "purple folders".
In recognition of the anniversary of the end of WW1, our theme this week was "War Songs". Five groups practiced during the morning, after the AGM, utilising every available space in the hall. There was a wide range of songs and music and even the new beginners were able to join in.
The resulting Showcase in the afternoon was fabulous. Six groups (one coming together late in the day!) and two individuals, presented a diverse and emotional memorial concert.
A huge "thank you" to everyone who came and participated in so many ways.
The next Play Day will be the New Years Party (bring and share lunch) on Sunday 6th Jan. '19. Where there will be a "MuseScore" presentation and another "Raucous Chorus" featuring a selection of instruments.
We look forward to seeing you next time.
Kate, Tony & Beryl "The Ruishton Team"
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