Play Harmonica Holiday in Northumberland
Code: ALMPHPrint page
Food & drink
Take your first steps learning to play the Harmonica in Northumberland, learning the folk/blues harmonica, including breathing, finding chords, and single notes, 'chugging' and simple tunes and blue riffs. Build confidence with guidance and teaching from our professional leader, working in small groups with time available for individual tuition and a group performance.
Suitable for beginners.
- Music sessions every morning, late afternoon and evening
- Afternoons are free to explore the local area
- Work towards an informal performance on the final night
- Small groups of up to 12 guests
- Full-board en-suite accommodation
- Full programme of tuition from our knowledgeable leaders
Nether Grange has undeniable history and gorgeous landscapes that surrounds the Alnmouth coastline. It's a perfect mixture of sea and landscape that provides a more settled terrain for everyone who enjoys walking in all of nature's beauty.
Nether Grange has 35 bedrooms, a number of which enjoy views across the links golf course to the sea.
These rooms are all ensuite and furnished to a good standard. They include:
These rooms are slightly larger and/or have a better view. They include:
Only an extra £15 per person per night
Choose Your Room: Our new “Choose Your Room” service is available at our UK country houses, providing the option to choose and confirm a specific room for an extra £30 per room. Supplement to upgrade to 'Better' rooms still apply. The choice of room number must be of the same room type as originally booked and is subject to availability.
At the house
|All holidays at our Country Houses are full board accommodation including evening meal on arrival to breakfast on the day of your departure. All of our Country Houses have a well-stocked bar serving local beers, wine and spirits.
√ Start your day with our extensive breakfast.
Just relax and take it easy, or if you'd like to continue to chat with our guides and fellow guests then why not grab a drink or take part in one of our optional evening activities.
All of our bars are stocked with locally sourced drinks so you can really soak up your surroundings.
Due to the age and the layout of the house, Nether Grange is not recommended for wheelchair users or guests with restricted mobility.
Although one bedroom has wheelchair access, the access to the main house has some steps and the public rooms in the main building are over 2 floors with no lift available.
- Fire procedure is displayed in each room and explained to guests on arrival. Guests requiring assistance at an evacuation are identified at this time and door hanger cards are issued
- Mobile phone reception is generally good from the main building
- Assistance dogs accompanying visually or hearing impaired guests are welcome; dogs must be kept on a lead or harness at all times
- Information can be provided in large print
- Staff have received disability awareness training
- Special diets can be catered for. Specialist food can be obtained with prior notice
- Fridge for medication can be supplied
Musical experiences are always better when shared. Enjoy creating wonderful music with other like-minded enthusiasts. This holiday is for complete beginners. If you already play a little so much the better, but we will start with the absolute basics. We’ll cover breathing and note production, getting a good tone, vamping and accompaniment, articulation and playing tunes. We may get onto some position playing and note-bending for blues styles.
You’re welcome to check-in from 2.30pm (1pm for better rooms). Please join us for afternoon tea.
During your stay
We’ll start playing each morning from 9.30am, and have a nice cup of tea halfway through.
Enjoy lunch together, then you’ve got some free time. There are fantastic walks right on the doorstep and our Discovery Points are ready to make the most out of your stay - there are plenty of maps and a selection of the best tried and tested walking and cycling routes to use, as well as local weather forecasts and public transport options too – plus those all important personal insights on things to spot, places to stop, and things to do along the way. Or you can always get some more rehearsal time in by yourself.
There’s more practice before dinner from 5.30pm and again after, so you can spend the evening doing what you love best!
There’s usually an informal concert at the end of the holiday. Why not show off your new repertoire to other guests in the house?
Leave (on a high note) after a leisurely breakfast.
What to Bring
This holiday is for complete beginners. You’ll need 10-hole Richter-tuned diatonic harmonica in the key of C major. Some of the well known models are made by Hohner, Seydel, Suzuki and Lee Oscar. There are many others. It will cost you about £35. Any good music shop will advise you. If you want to bring a harmonica in other keys please do. The best keys to get - after C - are A and D, which work well for blues and folk.
Please bring your own music stand.
How to play if you’ve not tried it before
It’s worth trying to purchase your harmonica a little while before the start of the holiday, and trying to produce some notes from it. The low notes are on the left as you play it. Breathe through it, blowing out and drawing air in, not too hard. Make a good airtight seal with your lips.
You’ll hear two or more notes together, which harmonise, as this is the way the harmonica is laid out. There are two basic ways to isolate a single note; by puckering your lips, or by blocking the left side notes with your tongue, leaving a channel between your tongue and your right cheek. Eventually you should be able to do either. Have fun experimenting with this!
Nether Grange sits right at the heart of the historic coastal village of Alnmouth. Located right on the North Sea coast there is a sweeping sandy beach and a small tidal harbour. Facilities include a handful of small shops, pubs and cafés.
A wider range of facilities, including shops, supermarkets, banks and chemists can be found in Alnwick, the nearest town. Alnwick is about four miles inland and is connected to Alnmouth by regular buses.
During your visit to the Nether Grange you may enjoy visiting the following places of interest:
Alnwick Castle & gardens
The huge Alnwick Castle is a big attraction in its own right and has gained a younger audience since being used as ‘Hogwarts Castle’ in the Harry Potter films. The gardens have undergone extensive rebuilding and are now the main draw for many visitors. Alnwick is just 10 to 15 minutes' drive from Alnmouth, and can also be reached using the hourly X18 bus. www.alnwickcastle.com or www.alnwickgarden.com
Owned by the Armstrong family since the 1750s, Bamburgh Castle occupies a splendid position above the sweeping sands of the North Sea coast. Bamburgh is 35 minutes' drive from Alnmouth, and can also be reached using the 501 local bus which runs every other hour. www.bamburghcastle.com
Take a boat trip (weather permitting) from Seahouses to the Farne Islands; one of the best places in Britain to view seals and puffins. Seahouses is around 45 minutes' drive from Alnmouth, and can also be reached using the 501 bus. www.farne-islands.com
English Christianity was born in 7th century Northumberland and Lindisfarne Priory, is its oldest major site, dating from 635AD. It is located on the Holy Island of Lindisfarne, cut off by the tides twice a day (make sure that you check the tide times before you visit). The Heritage Centre tells the stories of St Aidan, St Cuthbert and St Bede and displays the 8th century Lindisfarne Gospels in electronic form. Linisfarne is just under an hour's drive from Alnmouth. www.english-heritage.org.uk/lindisfarne-priory
Warkworth Castle, a few miles to the south of Alnmouth, towers over a bend in the River Coquet and the picturesque town of Warkworth. Warkworth is just 10 minutes' drive from Alnmouth, and can also be reached using the 518 bus. www.english-heritage.org.uk/warkworth-castle
Built by Victorian industrial magnate William Armstrong, Cragside House was hugely innovative and was the first house in Britain to be lit by electric light. Now managed by the National Trust, the house and gardens are a fascinating visit. Cragside is around 40 minutes' drive from Alnmouth. www.nationaltrust.org.uk/cragside
Seaton Delaval Hall
Seaton Delaval Hall is a fine stately home, designed by John Vambrugh and completed in 1728. Following an extensive fundraising appeal it has recently been purchased by the National Trust. The hall is around 40 minutes' drive from Alnmouth. www.nationaltrust.org.uk/seaton-delaval-hall
The vibrant city of Newcastle is always bustling with activity and is famed for its shopping and lively nightlife. The new Baltic arts centre and Sage Gallery are well worth a visit. Newcastle is just under an hour's drive from Alnmouth, and can also be reached by hourly local bus.
Around 1½ hours drive from Nether Grange, Hadrian’s Wall remains a powerful symbol of the Roman Empire. The most dramatic section is from Once Brewed to Housteads Roman Fort and a walk here enables you to see some of the best preserved sections at close quarters. Two museums of note are the Roman Army Museum near Walltown you can gain an insight into the daily lives of Roman soldiers, and Vindolanda Roman Fort with its collection of rare Roman artefacts. www.visithadrianswall.co.uk
Edinburgh is very accessible for a day trip. Catch the train from nearby Alnmouth station for the scenic 1 hour journey to the Scottish capital. You'll arrive in the heart of the city centre with numerous museums, shops and galleries, plus the famous castle all within easy walking distance.
Alnmouth Village Golf Club
This links course if located right in front of Nether Grange. www.alnmouthvillagegolfclub.co.uk
Barter Books has been dubbed the British Library of secondhand bookshops and is located in a handsome old Victorian railway station in Alnwick.
Cragside House image © National Trust/Graeme Peacock, Seaton Delaval Hall image ©National Trust Images/John Hammond
Travel to Alnmouth
Our address is: Nether Grange, Alnmouth, Alnwick, Northumberland NE66 2RZ
Nether Grange sits on a headland and only has access to limited roadside parking. We advise our guests to use rail travel where possible. Nether Grange is a 5 minute taxi ride from Alnmouth train station
The nearest railway station is Alnmouth, on the main line between Newcastle and Edinburgh. For train times and route planning by train visit www.nationalrail.co.uk or phone 03457 48 49 50
The 1 1/2 mile journey from Alnmouth railway station takes approximately 5 minutes. Pre-booked taxis cost approx £6 per 4 seat taxi. Details of our current recommended taxi company and rates will be sent to you with your booking. The return taxi journey can be arranged on your behalf by the Nether Grange Manager.
Take the A1 to Alnwick. Exit on the A1068 heading towards Alnwick. At the roundabout turn right (not well signed) and follow the A1068 towards Alnmouth. After 2¾ miles go straight ahead at the first roundabout then left at the second roundabout onto the B1338. Cross a bridge as you approach Alnmouth, turning right at the next roundabout, then almost immediatley left into The Wynd. Follow the one way system into Marine Road, passing the golf clubhouse on the left, and round into Northumberland Street. After 100yds turn right into the narrow Pease’s Lane. Nether Grange is on the left. Please note that Nether Grange does not have a car park, there is very limited on-street parking available on a first come basis. You can park in available slots on Marine Road, Pease's Lane and elsewhere in town. There is a pay and display car park at the end of Marine Road.
Travelling from overseas
The nearest airport is at Newcastle which is served by European flights, and UK regional flights from London. From here take the metro to Newcastle Central station, then on by train to Alnmouth - a straightforward journey taking just over 1 hour.
Manchester Airport has a much wider range of long-haul flights. There are trains every hour from the airport to Alnmouth with one change at Newcastle. Allow 3½ hours to Alnmouth - see www.nationalrail.co.uk for train times.
Flying to London Heathrow airport is another option, but has a longer onward train journey - allow 5 hours to reach Alnmouth. From Heathrow first take the Piccadilly line Underground train to London Kings Cross station. From here take a train to Alnmouth - see www.nationalrail.co.uk for train times.
Edinburgh Airport is also a possibility.
Robin is an Outdoor Education Teacher who lives in the Lake District. He plays harmonica (national champion 1999), guitar and percussion as well as ukulele. You can often find him at weekends in a pub, playing washboard with the Sun Street Stompers or performing with his Blues partner, Rex Haymes. He plays gigs and jam sessions around the north-west of England.
Passing on his skills and enthusiasm is now his passion, and he has recently completed a Certificate in Music course at Lancaster University. He has great fun playing and teaching the ukulele, a wonderfully accessible and versatile little instrument.
The success of the 'Play Ukulele' holidays has prompted him to branch out with holidays devoted to the Blues.
Robin is a fantastic musician and teacher. I loved every minute and have wonderful memories with the CD he kindly gave to all the guests. A wonderful memorable experience.