Noticeboard 14th April
  • Enjoy Breton music and dance in Newton on the Moor on Thursday April 18. Workshop and dance / concert. See the calendar for the information

  • Our Gilbert and Sullivan weekend workshop is coming up at the end of the month. Do come and enjoy seeing and hearing what we've managed to put together in a very short space of time, when we present a run through of “Iolanthe” at 3pm on Sunday April 28 in Felton Village Hall. It'll take about an hour and admission is free. Maybe we can tempt you to take part next year.

  • On May 4th many of us will be at the Village Hall remembering Bob George and celebrating his life with music and conviviality. It's wear something pink, but, sadly, if you haven't already got a ticket you are probably not able to come along – every seat is full.

  • There's no Regency Ball this year – we want to keep things a bit varied, but we're looking at organising a le Ceildih-come-Cabaret in the early autumn. French folk dances – easy to learn and enjoy and various spots with a French theme. Bring your own baguette. More information soon.

  • Drop In Singing moves to its summer pattern in May. We'll be meeting on the second and fourth Tuesdays of each month until September when get-togethers are weekly again. Check out the calendar for topics and to confirm the dates.

  • Remember that the calendar summarises what's happened at each Music Saturday session and includes suggestions for what you might prepare for next time.

  • Hazel Metherell is exploring the possibility of setting up a Dance Club. This is not a class, but a chance to share knowledge with each other about all sorts of different types of dance. She'd love it if musicians were an integral part of the process – and of course you might be a dancing musician. Maybe a new dance piece created in conversation with the music. It sounds very exciting - collaborative and creative, and will be accessible to all, whatever their abilities. At the moment she's trying to find out who's interested before going on to seek when it could happen. Interested? If you don't have Hazel's contact details, email and I'll put you in touch with her.

Emma George
Noticeboard 27 March
  • Let’s talk about brain cells! The latest research tells us that we go on growing new ones throughout life, unless we are unfortunate enough to develop Alzheimers.

  • It's not too late to join the team for Iolanthe, Felton Music's Gilbert and Sullivan In A Weekend at the end of April. Meet everyone on Friday evening and meet the challenge of putting together an informal show on Sunday afternoon. Sing lots or just a little, solos or one of the crowd, read a part, offer ideas or just be around.

  • Music Saturday on April 13, starting with Sight Singing and wrapping up with Swedish Folk Music. Details of what will be happening in each session is on the calendar.

  • MadriGals will soon be meeting up again for their summer season. This time we're going to take our singing to different places to sing for our own pleasure. Rehearsals on Sunday evenings to learn a small repertoire in 2 and 3 parts. Women's voices. Details soon on the website.

  • Module 1 of the revised Music Literacy Course has almost finished. 16 people have attended 3 sessions and practised at home, getting much better at pitching notes and doing more than one thing at a time. It looks as though Module 2 will run soon. Check out the information on the website for more details

    Make contact if you are interested in any of the modules.

  • Click on any Drop In Singing date on the calendar to see what that weeks theme theme is going to be

Emma George
Feltonbury Update - March

The first 'on-line' planning meeting was held earlier this month confirming that the proven format of previous years and various feedback comments will be added to 'Feltonbury2019'. 

Slots are staring to fill in the timetable - get in touch soon if you want to be involved.

As in previous years we are planning several venues
a) The Bridge
b) Felton Village Hall
c) Gallery 45 (indoors)
d) Gallery 45 Courtyard
e) Gallery 45 'Long Room'
f) The Old Bank and, this year
g) in a 'bell-tent venue' on 'The Plot' - the Community Allotment space. The Foxes Den is a new venue and we will also discuss the best way to use the Northumberland Arms - inside and/or outside.

'The Bridge' is an ideal focal point in the village and there have had great performances there in the rain, wind - and most effectively in the hot sunshine. The Gallery45 Courtyard is a great venue as is the Long Room directly above it- but we will make sure that there is no clash of music schedules.

We have high expectations of 'The Plot' - but it is going to need some effort to make it what we are after. All of the outdoor venues are heavily dependent on good weather but, as in previous years, we will have wet-weather alternatives in place for each outdoor venue as a 'back-up' plan.

The ‘Stag Head Beer Tent’ in Gallery 45 Courtyard proved to be a significant success and will be repeated; however, minor amendments will be introduced to ensure that all musical performances get a ‘fair hearing’ - i.e. we won't have conflict between the Long Room and the Courtyard - and we will endeavour to make sure that Courtyard performers are listened to.

Follow Feltonbury 2019 on Facebook

Noticeboard 21st February
  • Two great join in and sing opportunities are coming to the village. On Saturday February 23, Felton Film Club is presenting an ABBA double bill at the Village Hall. The first film starts at 6 pm and the second at 8.30. The words are on screen, so it's easy to sing along and everyone is welcome. The Flying Fryer will be outside, so you can fortify yourself at the interval, and the bar is open throughout. £3 if you want to come to one film, £5 for both. What a bargain! Pay at the door.

  • On the morning of Saturday March 2 it's all our own work – “Guys and Dolls” is our musical in a morning. 9.30 – 12.30. £5 each. At the Village Hall as usual. If you don't know what we do, take a look at the Musical in a Morning page.

  • Ensuring you don't get withdrawal symptoms facing a Saturday without music – March 9 is the next Music Saturday. Click here for more details about what we'll be doing. There's a new workshop – An Introduction to Swedish Music with Chris Metherell. 3.30 – 5pm. Suitable for any instruments. Give it a go! (Village Hall yet again).

  • The Iolanthe scores have arrived! Our 4th Gilbert and Sullivan in a Weekend workshop starts on the evening of Friday 26 April. Email now to book your place. See the Gilbert and Sullivan page for more information.

  • Click on any Drop In date on the calendar to see what the theme is going to be.

  • Numbers visiting the Felton Music Facebook page are increasing. Hazel Makepeace has kindly started this and keeps it up to date. If you haven't taken a look yet, it's

Emma George
Feltonbury 2019 is on!!

It’s official - Feltonbury 2019 is happening!

Saturday 22nd June, 2019 is the date and the planning process gets underway. The event has become a village social landmark in the space of a very short period of time - and we intend keeping improving the quality of the day's activities. Each year we have had a different focus and this year is no change - whilst simultaneously retaining the popular 'favourites' in their known slots.  

As in previous years there are several existing and new venues:

a) The Bridge
b) Northumberland Arms and it's car park
c) Felton Village Hall
d) Gallery 45 (indoors)
e) Gallery 45 Courtyard
f) The Old Bank
g) On 'The Plot' - the Community Allotment space, in a 'bell-tent venue'

'The Bridge' is an ideal focal point in the village and there have had great performances there in the rain, wind - and most effectively in the hot sunshine. The Gallery45 Courtyard is a great venue as is the Long Room directly above it. We had high expectations of 'The Plot' last year - and they were fulfilled with an over-subscribed yoga session. All of the outdoor venues are heavily dependent on good weather but, as in previous years, we will have wet-weather alternatives in place for each outdoor venue as a 'back-up' plan.

The ‘Stag Head Beer Tent’ and the 'Prosecco Van' in Gallery 45's Courtyard proved to be a significant success and will be repeated; however, minor amendments will be introduced to ensure that musical performances get a ‘fair hearing’.

The outline plan for the evening in the village hall is a 'Battle of the Bands' event. This event normally takes place in Alnwick Playhouse but because of refurbishment the Duchess High School has accepted our offer to host the vent in the village hall. This will attract a number of extremely proficient youngsters to compete for the title - with street-busking and venue performance as an integral part of the competition. The intention of this event for the local community is to increase the youth representation into the event as well as encouraging the community's young musicians and artists to participate.

Provisional arrangements have also been put into place for 'Prism' - a Pink Floyd Tribute Band - to perform in the village on the preceding night as a ticketed event. The band and the venue haven't been finalised as yet but will advise as soon as it is known. Also, the Village Hall is now licensed so alcohol can be sold; again that’s something that we are working on.

Here is last years programme which will give an idea on what, where and when went on.

2019 - The schedule for this year is below.

Slots are booked in single/multiple 15 minute slots. So, set the 'ball rolling' by having a look at your options.

Side by side with the music venues is an 'arts trail' - and there is added interest already. The spreadsheet template now includes a one-hour musical 'lunch break' for everyone to 'take a break' and to enable musicians to visit artists venues - who will take a similar, but differently timed 'lunch break'. 

The 'We Burn' 'flash-mob' choir was a tremendous success in 2018 - and now the majority know what it is about it can become bigger and more confident. The 'venue' leaflet was also a great success and helped people negotiate the village to be in the right place at the right time.

Download the preliminary 'Feltonbury2019' Poster and please share as you feel appropriate.

Feltonbury is expanding - we are keen not to make it too big - but there is scope to make better use of what we have already. Lessons are learnt each year and we are incorporating those into this year's planning.

Everyone is most welcome to join the Feltonbury2019 community. Our strapline is 'No Mud, No Queues, No Tailbacks, No Talent' (How wrong that is - especially the latter!). If you want or know someone who wants to perform, display - and most importantly be a 'helper' - then please let us know and we will add you/them to the growing database. Email Neal Skelton at

Feltonbury2019 updates will be posted here on the website and on Facebook Everything is up for discussion, so contact us by email or via Facebook.

Noticeboard January 30th

Music Saturday on February 9. Morning sessions in the Village Hall as usual. Afternoon sessions in Gallery 45. Go to Music Saturdays to see exactly what's planned and find Gallery 45 if you don't already know it. The Pantomime Society has its matinee. Final performance that evening. Worth getting a ticket.

Module 1 of the Music Literacy Course starts on February 16. Find out more on the Workshops & Courses page.

I got my dates muddled. “Guys and Dolls” is on Saturday March 2 NOT Sunday 3. Apologies.

Exciting news - Hazel Makepeace has very kindly set up a Facebook page for Felton Music. This gives everyone who joins (it's a closed group) a place to share and celebrate. A great complement for the website. Take a look:

Felton Film Club is planning a double bill of ABBA! Saturday February 23. More information on the next noticeboard.

I've signed up for a free on-line course with Future Learn. “Making Music with Others”. There are other excellent on line providers around. Have you any good (or bad) experiences to share?

Emma George
Noticeboard - January 6th
  • Well done to everyone who participated in the Tudor Revels on January 5, whether, playing, singing, dancing, acting, laughing, eating or drinking. A great end to the mid-winter festivities. What shall we do next? 

  • The first Music Saturday of the year is coming up on the 12th. Check out what we're going to be doing in each session by clicking here.

  • Drop In Singing starts again on January 8th, and happens every Tuesday evening until May when we meet fortnightly. More details on the Drop In Singing page.

  • The first big task of January is organising dates for the Music Literacy Course. There will be one course on Saturday mornings in Felton, and there may be another in a different location. Keep an eye on the information and make contact if you are interested in taking part . More details are on the Workshops and Courses page.

Emma George
What Is Music Literacy?

One of the most commonly expressed wishes of adults involved in music making is “I wish I could read music”. Reading isn't needed for lots of types of music, such as folk, but it's really useful for “classical” music.

This article is designed to explain what music literacy is and what's involved in starting to acquire it. It's aimed at the person who most often voices the wish: the adult who enjoys singing in a choir and would love to feel more capable and confident.

Unpicking the Skill

You're sitting there in the choir rehearsal. A new piece of music is handed out. “Let's get a feel of how it goes” says the director. The starting notes are given, you're counted in and the singing starts. Around you several people are singing this stuff they've never seen before. Depending on your skill level relative to the difficulty of the music, you are either hanging on to their lead or pretty well lost. You know that once the director starts the note bashing process, you'll be able to take part properly and start memorising your line.

How on earth are those music readers doing it? Even when they make a mistake, they seem to be able to get themselves in again.

Listen more carefully and you'll notice there's quite a range of competence. Being able to read music is not a can or can't thing. 

Ask those who can read how they do it, and often they find it difficult to explain. Can you explain how you learned to read words?

In order to read the music at sight the person is drawing on:

  • knowledge of the sounds the patterns of symbols represent

  • knowledge of the words and symbols that give information about how the notes are to be performed

  • an internalised clock to calculate the relative length of the notes (and silences)

  • an internalised scale of notes to get the jumps between the notes the right size

  • access to a store of remembered common patterns to allow the reader to make assumptions and predictions about the music (like a vocabulary)

  • the ability to get information from all the simultaneous lines of music

  • the ability to relate the sound they are making to the sounds around them

And all this has to happen in real time – it has to be a fluent process.

You'll notice that there's nothing here about the names of the notes – all that A, B, C business or crotchets and quavers. That's really useful information that helps people talk and learn about music, but it doesn't get you into reading music any more than knowing the alphabet gets you into reading words.

Sometimes those who don't read music believe that those who can are blessed with perfect pitch. That's a really rare competence. It's when you can say to the person “sing a D” and they can do it straight away without having heard any other notes. It's like having a piano in your head. Apart from being almost impossible to learn once you're past the age of about seven, it's not always such a good thing – imagine trying to sing with a choir that's gone flat.

The pitching skill that we'd all like to improve is relative pitch. That's when someone says to you “here's the note G, now sing a D”. That's really useful. Some people are amazingly good at it, and can pitch any note from any other, even under pressure. I can't manage that well. I can manage some jumps straight away, while for others I have to have a strategy so I can work them out, or borrow them from another part. It's rather like mental arithmetic, some answers are instant while others have to be worked out. All music readers are at different points along the competence continuum, and can improve with practice.


In 1975 Edwin Gordon, an American educationalist, coined the term “audiation” for the process going on in the brain when one is thinking in music. He equated it to thought in language. Thinking in language means we can recall, reflect and plan using unspoken words. We can also manipulate word patterns and think about language. When we see written there are thoughts to relate them to, not just elusive sounds. To become musically literate, at however basic a level, you need to develop your ability to audiate. 

You may think that you can't audiate. You probably can and it's just a matter of becoming conscious of it. Even if it feels as though it's a new mental process for you, fear not. It's easy and fun to get started, very empowering, and you can practise it wherever you are.

Staff Notation and how it works

When people talk about reading music they usually mean the way of writing down music called staff notation. The staff or stave is the set of five horizontal lines on which symbols are written. There are other ways of writing music down. Guitarists and other players of instruments with frets use tablature (tab). This is a system of pictures which show you where to put your fingers. Some software produces graphic notation. Tonic sol-fa (doh, ray, me etc.) doesn't need the stave. Letters represent the sounds in the scale. Staff notation is universal and works for any instrument: it's handy to understand it. It's what's used in most choirs, orchestras and bands.

Staff notation deals mainly with two aspects of music, pitch (the up and down of the notes) and rhythm (how the notes move through time).

Pitch is notated graphically showing the up and down. The five lines of the stave help the eye see how the notes relate to each other. The concept is simple. What takes learning is internalising a repertoire of pitch patterns so the jumps between the notes are accurate. That's where audiation really comes in.

Rhythm is notated symbolically. Each of the notes – crotchets, minims and so on tells the reader how long they should sound relative to the beat. Nowadays, printers of music try to help the reader by distributing the notes proportionately, but often this isn't possible. In order to read music in real time you need to accumulate a repertoire of common rhythms. There isn't time to work everything out mathematically.

The traditional way of learning to read music 

Most of the adults around who read fluently learned an instrument. The skills of playing and decoding are taught in tandem. There's the option of exam, and these test aural development (recalling and identifying notes and patterns), and reading music at sight as well as technical skills and performance. The best teachers integrate the separate strands of aural, reading and theory with practical skills. A minority learn to read music through singing, meaning they jump straight in to relating image to sound, with no decoding.

Those who don't play the piano, but show potential in music may be encouraged to learn. The piano presents the opportunity to combine notes, and helps makes sense of a lot of aspects of music theory. It's a really useful reference point.

In this tradition, music theory means understanding written music and all its conventions – clefs, key and time signatures, sharps and flats, notes and rests. 

Learning to read music as an adult

If you have the time you could replicate the traditional approach. Even if you want to learn an instrument, through, you can speed the process by getting into music literacy head on, rather than tackling it at the same time as you are mastering finding the notes.

In recent years, neurological research has demonstrated that we really can learn new skills as adults, even at ages when previous generations would have taken to the pipe and slippers. It can take a bit longer to build the connections in the brain, but we can use the self knowledge accumulated through life to manage our learning efficiently. 

“Practice is all. If you practise you improve”

In order to develop music literacy as effectively as possible it's helpful if you:

Have realistic expectations

None of us would expect to start learning a new skill as an adult and be as good as a professional after a few months. Music literacy is a big skill, but you can exercise at all levels, and the more exercise it gets, the more it improves.

Don't mind working with the simplest of music materials

If you start Russian lessons you don't expect to start with Dostoevsky. People who sing in choirs are often performing very sophisticated music – too complex to help you learn the fundamentals of music literacy.

Are prepared to have a go 

You can't learn any of this without making sounds, on the keyboard and vocally. 

Taking a relaxed approach, exploring and not minding making audible errors helps learning. Remember we talk about “playing” music. Be playful.

Can cope with being a beginner

We vary in how comfortable we feel being unskilled

Set aside your ability to learn by ear

Your musical memory is probably well developed, but you need to consciously put it aside to learn the new skill of reading. You'll probably continue to use memory at choir rehearsals all of the time initially.

Consciously manage your thinking processes and learning

To learn this skill you have to build new connections in the brain. This is what takes the time. Knowing that the process takes time and can be frustrating doesn't make it any quicker, but can help you through it. You use your adult, cognitive brain to coach the parts needed to acquire the skills you want. Patience and positivity – like puppy training.

To find out what courses are running - see the Workshops & Courses page. I hope you’ve found this article useful. If you want a PDF version to download to your computer for printing - click below.

Emma George