Tweed’s True North Music Immersion Series 2 : Accordion – Karen Tweed and Karen Street

Date:March 13-19 2022


This week is aimed at accordionists who wish to look at a varied repertoire and nurture their own accordion voice. Karen Street’s jazz/swing meets Karen Tweed’s folk; both love the accordion’s orchestra-in-a-box possibilities, it’s dynamic and harmonic range so expect a myriad of ideas to try out and transform your music!

This week is inspired by their popular fortnightly Zoom workshops which have taken place since mid-lockdown. They unlock key strategies to enable you to apply to all genres of music whether as a soloist or playing with others and always with a great sense of fun – beautifully paced and balanced.

There will also be pop-up options throughout the week looking at different aspects of our passion for music.

Expect to find new horizons in your music that are closer to your fingers than you think!

Prerequisites and Booking Process

Please provide a short description of why you would like to participate in this creative accordion adventure, where you feel you need help with your music creativity, and the outcome(s) you would hope to achieve from attending. This could simply be to develop your accordion-style to nurture lyricism in your music; enjoy playing with others from elsewhere to gain confidence in employing alternative bass and harmony ideas on the accordion. Please include what kind of music you enjoy playing and send this to

This course will be aimed at piano accordions but other systems are welcome. Please contact us with any queries.

No absolute beginners.

Open to over 18s. We will be using music notation.

Maximum participants – 13.

One of the main reasons behind me planning the accordion course with Karen is because we have been running Zoom workshops fortnightly since the middle of lockdown and there seems a need to develop what we have been doing further – and in person. We have found that so many players would like to explore aspects of technique and arrangement, harmony and fun performance ideas – and to do this for longer than the hour we can provide on Zoom. There is a need for players to be together, discuss what they find tricky and sometimes a set of days is needed for these points to be raised and covered.

What Do You Need

Your own instrument, music stand, notepaper, writing materials and a recording device.

The course is not about participants being a specific standard to do it but about developing where you are, already. There will be things that you find easy and others that you will find challenging; hopefully, you will find that most participants on the course will feel the same – but you will all be inspired as we are hoping to address everyone’s needs.

This course allows us to really explore the accordion together in an intimate and beautiful setting.

  • A few details: this course is aimed primarily at piano accordions with stradella bass systems but players also using button keyboards and freebass systems are welcome. If you would like to discuss this, Karen and I can be in touch with you via email.
  • notation and sound files will be sent out a month before the course for participants to familiarise themselves with the music we intend to cover.
  • we are looking at where each participant is now, musically and we shall show ways to develop basic techniques of melody, basslines, bellows and interpretation. The repertoire will range from simple folk melodies to jazz/swing; some accordionesque pieces (mussette for example) and how to take a piece of music and make it work on the accordion.
  • we are both passionate about the accordion so helping you to make the most of the instrument’s range of sound is at the heart of what we love.
  • the idea is that each participant is challenged in a fun way and will be taking home plenty to work on while exploring new ways to make their music sing both as a soloist and playing with others.
  • we also hope to encourage sharing ideas within the group; it is not about simply playing the dots on the page but helping participants to relax into finding their own accordion voice.
  • there will be options in the week for more advanced and lower levels of playing, including improvisation.
  • we will also have material to play together on the Friday night, arranged for accordion ensemble. We do not wish to put anyone in the spotlight, performance-wise; the focus will be great music and great fun.

We hope you will gain great confidence and a desire to explore your own stylistic and arrangement ideas over the week and have a lot of musical fun!


Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday are your core working days and evening activities include an informal tutors’ concert, a presentation/discussion led by a local artist and a dance workshop exploring the dance traditions in Orkney.

Thursday – Day off for optional escorted sightseeing or rest.

There will be a performance on Friday evening.

Full details regarding the workshops are on Karen Tweed’s homepage which you can visit by clicking HERE.

Accommodation and Food

You will be housed at the Kristin Linklater Voice Centre in our purpose-built Bothy. All rooms are single occupancy with shared toilet/shower facilities. If you have specific accommodation requests please contact

Mealtimes are communal. Lunch and dinner are cooked by our own chef. We cater for dietary considerations including the following: gluten free, vegetarian, vegan and lactose intolerant. We regret to say that we are unable to accommodate more complex dietary requirements. For additional food information please see our FAQs

Residential workshops at the Centre are fully residential offerings only. No camping facilities are available. The residential experience at the Centre is based on the participants learning, sharing, creating, and working individually and collectively.

Arrivals and Departures

Sunday Arrivals: We anticipate your arrival on Sunday, sometime in the afternoon is good as this ensures you are present for the Welcome Dinner at 6.30 pm. We shall collect you and take you up to the Centre on Sunday at a time suitable to coordinate in with the other arrivals. (Please note travel times: 45 mins from the airport, 20 mins from the ferry).

Saturday Departures: These will be after breakfast and we will arrange to transport you to the ferry/airport or drop you off at your local accommodation.

Travel Arrangements

For more information on how to get here, please contact our local and reputable travel agency Scapa Travel, advising them that you are travelling to Orkney to stay at the Voice Centre.

Should you wish to arrive in Orkney early, or to stay on after your workshop finishes, we recommend you use or another online accommodation site to make your personal arrangements.

Information on Current Covid guidance for travelling to Scotland and International travel to Scotland. can be found using these links. Please note we cannot answer specific individual questions on travel and recommend you contact Scapa Travel with any such queries.

Please ensure that when making your travel arrangements you have suitable insurance to cover any other losses associated with your trip as KLVC and the course organiser cannot take any responsibility for any additional costs.

COVID-19 Regulations – PLEASE READ

We are closely monitoring and adhering to Government and local guidelines and will advise you of specific local requirements prior to the commencement of your workshop. It is your personal responsibility to ensure you meet the requirements for travel to and from Scotland. Information on Current Covid guidance for travelling to Scotland and International travel to Scotland.can be found using these links.

If you are travelling to Orkney from within the UK, KLVC is requesting that workshop participants be fully vaccinated. This is so that a duty of care is maintained to your fellow international workshop participants, your tutor(s) and KLVC team members and our local Orkney community. In making a workshop booking, you are confirming that you understand and respect this request. A definition of ‘fully vaccinated’ as determined by the Scottish Government may be found here.

Orkney Residents

If you live locally and are interested in attending the workshop, please contact us at

Cancellation Policy

If you cancel more than 30 days before the workshop start date, a 100% refund will be provided.

If you cancel within 30 – 14 days before the workshop start date a 50% refund will be provided.

If you cancel within 14 days before the workshop start date no refund will be provided.

Subject to availability, the cost of any amount not refunded could be put towards the cost of another course.

KLVC and Karen Tweed reserve the right to cancel or reschedule any workshop or event at any time. Should the rescheduled dates or alternative offered by KLVC not be suitable to you we shall refund any payments made by you.


If you have any queries on the workshop please contact

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Karen Tweed

Karen Tweed lives her inspiration through living in Orkney and is respected internationally as a multi-faceted artist, teacher and creative. Born in London in 1963, Karen took up the accordion at age 11 and studied Graphic Design (Printmaking) at Leeds, becoming a teacher of Art and Design in 1987. Karen has appeared on over 70 CDs, has produced numerous videos and accordion publications/manuals.

Karen’s projects also include founding the No.1 Ladies Accordion Orchestra, May Monday (with Finnish composer/pianist Timo Alakotila) and the 21-strong female ensemble Circa Compania.Known as brilliant collaborator, she has worked with Kathryn Tickell, The Poozies, Anglo-Swedish collective SWÂP, Chris Wood, Ian Carr and Andy Cutting; she was music director for Parrabolla Community Theatre in their play about the Chartists and more recently was commissioned in 2021 by Siamsa Tire, the National Folk Theatre of Ireland and St Magnus Festival in Orkney.

Karen says ‘The landscape of Orkney fires my creativity whether visually or sonically and the connection forged between what I see, hear, sense, play and draw is an endless celebration of nature. . . I had never realised that, truly, until coming to live here in Orkney.’

Karen Street

Karen Street is one of the UK’s most well-known and respected accordionists. She is also highly regarded as a saxophonist and as a composer/arranger for both instruments. With a background in classical music and branching out into jazz and other genres early in her career she performs regularly and is a brilliant teacher. Her passion has always been to challenge people’s preconceptions of the much maligned accordion.She has played with everyone from Grace Jones to Pavarotti; most of the major orchestras including The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, The Royal Opera House, Welsh National Opera, The Royal Shakespeare Company and Ballet Rambert. Karen was also a member of the Strictly Come Dancing Live Tour Band for three seasons and has made countless recordings for CDs, radio, film and TV sessions.She studied with the late Ivor Beynon, a pioneer of the classical accordion and was invited to play at the prestigious Chartres International Accordion Festival. Karen has her own tango band, Carismático and her new French Mussette Quartet, L’Esprit du Jazz along with many other ongoing projects – she is an inspirational force and her approach to harmony is breath-taking.

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