Concertina group based in Maidstone, Kent, UK
The article below appeared in the Autumn 2015 edition of the West Country Concertina Players Newsletter.
Report for newsletter from Kettle Bridge Concertinas
Our thanks to WCCP for all your help and encouragement.
This last year has been very busy for Kettle Bridge Concertinas. Many of us have taken part in the March Kilve Residential weekend, Banding Together, Swaledale, SqueezEast and Sidmouth. Our original beginners are all in the band, and 3 are now Kilve devotees.
We have also practiced for and performed in a new (for us) music festival in Sevenoaks, as well as our usual entry in the Maidstone Music Festival. In both, we gained a 'distinction'. A new departure was a group visit to the Horniman Museum on the 28th July 2015. We were allowed over an hour to play some of their precious concertinas in the museum, then we performed to the Sunday crowd from their wonderful Victorian bandstand with its stupendous views over central London. At present we are a diverse bunch from all over Kent, so summer practices can be difficult.
I have been a public speaker for years, mainly on folk related subjects. I always include accordion and concertina interludes to brighten things up and put out folk event and concertina club flyers for the audience. This year, an unprecedented number approached me, eager to find out about the concertina. Of those, 9 followed up with calls and meetings wanting to learn to play. Most of our club concertinas are still being used by people who have yet to find their own instrument, and we did not have enough instruments for them. We needed to find tutor models if we were to teach all those that wished to learn. We were able to find 3 student concertinas for sale at Swaledale. With the support of WCCP's generous matched funding, we were able to purchase them. This money has been gratefully received and allowed us to get the enthusiastic newbies started.
The new groups have been successful but also had its limitations! Pat L has been meeting some of them near Dartford, and one, Francis accompanied by her husband, is coming to the October Kilve weekend. My beginners' group based in Maidstone has yet to settle into regular practice sessions. Tessa, after a pretty good start, broke her right wrist and has been living at her son's house for 8 weeks! Geoff has been abroad most of the summer, but is due to come back at the end of the month. Two more are due to start next week. Once we are settled down, I am sure great progress will be made as they are all enthusiastic.
WCCP has always been tremendously encouraging and supportive, both financially, emotionally and intellectually. Claire W has really helped Kettle Bridge Concertinas develop our musical expertise (which was lacking!), and the Kilve residential weekends plus the Sidmouth Drop-In got many of us so much further in our journey with the concertina. Thank you all.