Greenshoots Music Group

Traditional folk tunes, played slowly to learn, then faster for fun.

Welcome to Greenshoots

What Are We?

We are an amateur music practice group, with origins and focus in folk music, particularly British Isles traditional dance music, but sometimes playing a wider range of music. You might also think of us as a 'slow session', or a 'Beginners and Improvers Tune Session' (BITS).

Coronavirus and Virtual Greenshoots

*** IMPORTANT *** Greenshoots 16/3/2020 was cancelled, and future physical events were suspended for 18 months!
While we have not been meeting physically, you can still play along with some of the tunes we were intending to play. See the page on Virtual Greenshoots which has over six hundred recordings played in the Greenshoots style of slowly, then faster, to learn!

Through lockdown and its aftermath, some of us have been meeting virtually using Zoom, usually weekly on a Monday evening, to play the week's selection of tunes, led by Paul.

*** RESTARTING *** From August 2021, we have experimented with restarting real Greenshoots, but meeting fortnightly in Comberton Village Hall as a more Covid-secure envirnment than the rather cramped back room of a pub. We've had 12 to 15 attendees, and have lots of room, so do come along. I've been streaming the hall sessions by Zoom, so that others can listen in remorely. Email if you want to join in.

Longer-term we still intend to get back to a pub as venue, when Covid allows. Then the rest of this page will be relevant again!

Who Are We?

It varies week to week, but usually between 10 and 20 people of all ages. There is a core group who have been coming (on and off) for years that gives continuity and stability, and then newcomers join every few months - some stay for a few months, and others stay for years (or leave and come back again later). See 'Why' section below.

At a collaboration concert in October 2010 (concentrating too hard - normally happier!)

Where, When and How?

We meet at the Black Horse at Melbourn, near Cambridge (UK!). The address is 63 Orchard Rd, Melbourn, Royston, SG8 6BP. For location information and a map see here.

We meet on alternate Monday evenings, from 8pm to 10:30. In 2020, the first sessions were 6th and 20th Jan, then strictly every other week (so 11th and 25th May, etc.).

New players are always welcomed! Cost is zero! Contact details are at the bottom of the page.

What Instruments Do We Play?

Currently the group wields concertinas (Anglo and English), fiddles, guitars, bass guitar, mandolins, flutes, whistles, recorders, plus occasional melodeon, accordion etc.

What Music Do We Play?

Over the years we have built up a large list of tunes to which we have the music. Most are British Isles traditional music, particularly folk dance tunes. However there are exceptions ranging from Lily Marlene to American Patrol and Ashokan farewell. The majority are single line melodies with chord accompaniement, but we do also use some harmony settings (mainly 2-part). Most of the tunes (600+) are available in Paul Hardy's session tunebook, which is free as PDF to download and print, and also in abc format to play and manipulate. You can also there order a printed and spiral bound copy via's print on demand services.

What Is The Standard?

Variable! We are a mix of abilities and experience, but are all better than when we joined. We start new tunes slowly, and then speed up gradually. We are not afraid of stopping and practicing difficult bits several times.

Why Do We Exist?

The group started in about 1995 at the Wheatsheaf pub in Eversden, and has been meeting fortnightly ever since. The idea was to play tunes slowly and speed them up, starting off reading the music from the 'dots', and moving more to playing by ear. The target was to ease players into the main folk sessions that ran at that pub at that time.

The pub name gave Greenshoots its name, as the new 'green shoots' of the wheat. When the main Wheatsheaf session closed in the late 1990s, then Greenshoots moved to the Red Lion at Whittlesford where it occupied a back room for many years. In Autumn 2011, the Red Lion was being redeveloped, so we moved to our current venue at the Black Horse at Melbourn.

What Do We Sound Like?

There are some MP3 recordings of tunes recorded in our usual Greenshoots sessions, plus ones of some of us playing sets at two of the local collaboration concerts.

How Is It Organised?

We are a self-help group, with no single boss (a benevolent oligarchy?). Paul is the usual leader when he's there, because of the use of his Session tunebook as the core repertoire, and because his concertina can be heard! Mike as long-term secretary handles the finances (minimal) and accommodation arrangements, and organises if Paul is not there. Paul currently has the master email list and sends out the reminders and lists of tunes for the next session, although others have held this role in the recent past. Chris has been continuity and the musical director. Naomi is deputy leader, and she and Adrian have contributed valuable formal music knowledge. Others chime in as needed.

Do We Perform in Public?

Rarely! We exist to play for our own pleasure, and to improve our playing. However, we normally do a carol session for charity each year before Christmas, and have been known to do occasional half hour spots at local folk events.

Performing at the Red Lion folk day in July 2002

Current Music Session Contents

Sessions in 2020 are currently in two parts. The first half is playing tunes chosen at the end of the previous session, so that people have had time to look at them at home. The second half lets people choose tunes by going round the room to give everyone a chance to choose one they like (or dislike but want to practice!), mainly from Paul Hardy's Session Tunebook. This is free to download in PDF or ABC formats, or you can order a print on demand spiral bound copy.

Previous Music Session Content

In previous years, we have worked through the alphabet:

Before that we used to plan sessions more formally, and some previous programmes are available:

Other Info


Webmaster: Paul Hardy, 15 Kentings, Comberton, CAMBRIDGE, CB23 7DT.
Secretary: Mike Rawlings  

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