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Kettle Bridge Concertinas

Concertina group based in Maidstone, Kent, UK

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Alex Wade Workshop  -  Sat 2nd November 2019

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A bird's-eye view of the workshop.
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Report by Karen. Photos provided by Steve.

It was the day of the rugby World Cup final and the country was anticipating an exciting win. The weather in Kent was wild, wet, windy and newsworthy. But neither of these events deterred Kettle Bridge Concertinas from hosting a workshop with the brilliant Alex Wade, a well known concertina player and music teacher.

Twenty-one KBC members, alongside six non-members, enjoyed a full day of playing and learning — what a luxury and a treat! Players were of all ages and abilities and Alex skilfully encouraged everyone to participate, at whatever level they had reached in their concertina playing journey.

The start of the workshop saw Alex encouraging us to learn a tune and play by ear and there were audible sighs of nervousness. Within the hour, we had learned The New Road to Alston and there wasn’t a black dot in sight! Quite an achievement for many of us.

After a break, we looked at Ria's Schottische, a tune written by Alex in memory of her friend Ria who had recently passed away. Again Alex enabled the whole group to reach its potential with some playing the melody, while others played the more difficult counter melody or the bass/baritone part. We were also encouraged to try the other parts for an additional challenge. The end result was beautiful, provoking an emotional response among some.

After lunch we looked at a couple of Northumbrian tunes and in particular how to play them with more musicality. We considered the dynamics, the spaces between the notes and various techniques were employed to achieve different effects, creating more interest within a tune.

All too soon, the workshop was over and Alex was heading home, northwards. KBC was very appreciative of her time, skills and approachability. She enabled and inspired many concertina players to carry on squeezing!