29/01/2015 in workshop review
Harpas at Halsway has joined various festivals as a 'must do' entry on our calendar at the start of each year. Having attended all three so far I know each time I would have hated to miss the next one! Right from that moment of driving through the gates into the grounds of Halsway Manor there is that lovely feeling of belonging, homecoming and anticipation, all rolled into one. The surroundings are beautiful, the people very friendly and the music fantastic.
The weekend starts with a meal in the Manor dining room followed by a relaxed evening of session playing and getting to know each other - work starts in earnest on the Saturday morning, although Vicki always gives the complete beginners an initial lesson on the Friday. We have had different ways of splitting the group to accomodate the different ability levels, but everyone has had the choice to work at their own level as well as being stretched! Just the opportunity to play together makes the weekend worthwhile but add into that the new tunes, the input on playing technique and Vicki's enthusiasm and warmth and you have the recipe for success!
The days are nicely split into different sessions concentrating on areas such as types of tune, chords, finger exercises, bow technique and looking after the instrument, punctuated by tea and coffee breaks and meals and the opportunity to hear what non playing partners have been enjoying in the local area. On the Saturday evening we have been treated to a brilliant concert each time, which was also attended by some of the locals. In the past we have shared the Manor with the pipers society, so the concert has been pipes and harpas, with many memorable performances from Vicki and Jonny as well as the piping tutors. Last year our group then indulged in the light entertainment of the Harpa Olympics, where events such as the Svingrumpa Marathon caused much hilarity! All were awarded gold medals at the end, (specially made by Vicki using ribbon and chocolate coins!) and the prize of another great tune and dance session.
The Sunday provides lots of opportunities to recap new material and play in parts with rounds or arrangements created by Vicki, and last year we processed across to coffee to serenade the pipers! After a wonderfully tasty Sunday lunch we had a gentle afternoon and finished about three thirty with a devonshire cream tea, our brains stretched to their maximum!
The next one is booked and waiting - it feels very exciting to think about taking over the whole Manor and filling it with harpas - thank you, Vicki, for taking the brave leap!