‘Marksterclass’ for HAGO

If you ever want to hear (and see) or be reminded why ensemble playing gives some players such a kick, them you couldn’t do much better than go to a HAGO concert. HAGO (Hampshire Guitar Orchestra) are a fun loving guitar ensemble who perform to raise money for worth causes.  Their repertoire is entertaining and performed with such commitment and energy that they create an amazing musical presence – and they’re only 10 years old!

The day was organised by Derek Hasted and the HAGO team and I was invited to give a class on some critical ensemble points such as articulation and tonal balance.  Many of these points HAGO already have well grounded knowledge of and use in their performances and I was impressed by their positive and quick reactions to suggestions.  We also focused on some general technical points such as good general posture for playing; something which has been on my mind from a recent David Leisner masterclass at Birmingham Conservatoire, and the all-important right hand compensation when playing in high and low positions on the fingerboard.  Along with some other questions (and a whole lot of eating) the day was over incredibly quickly.

HAGO demonstrated their sightreading skills by playing through a few ensemble pieces they didn’t know, with particular attention given to Kalimba by Jürg Kindle which comes from a selection of pieces called Percussion Music, all in 4 parts, and published by Les Productions d’Oz (also available in PDF format).

Another moment of interest, although slightly surreal, was the use of flowerpots to reduce the frequency of the contrabass guitars. This involved inserting the pots into the guitar’s sound hole and for those horticulturally educated guitarists out there please visit HAGO’s own website for a far better explanation than I can offer here.

A few other photos just to give you a taste of a fun-packed day of guitar playing.  Thanks to all at HAGO for a wonderful time and delicious food.  Mark


  1. On behalf of everyone in HAGO, let me say that the day was “a wonderful time” because of your depth of knowledge and your totally wicked sense of humour. Thank you Mark, for a fun-packed day!

  2. Thankyou Mark, I learnt loads from you.
    best wishes

  3. Thank you for an fun and informative day! Has even inspired me to get out the ‘Pumping Nylon’ book again with renewed vigour and give it another whirl 🙂

  4. Thank you Mark, for a really great day.
    I learnt so much and had fun too!

  5. Thanks so much for the lovely comments. I’m just slightly worried that I got the most out of the HAGO day: repertoire, ensemble, food, and a huge amount of fun. Cheers all. Here’s to your next 10 years. Mark 😉

  6. Got to say thanks too for a wonderful day with HAGO. Think all of us were inspired by your energy and enthusiasm, and your passion for guitar… thank you SO much, you are like a breath of fresh air and have left HAGO with a lovely aroma!

  7. Well, we’re always looking for new recruits… ;-D

  8. Mark – you wrote “I’m just slightly worried that I got the most out of the HAGO day: repertoire, ensemble, food, and a huge amount of fun.”
    Why???? …
    That’s what HAGO is!!! Whether we’re rehearsing or playing in concert, we always have the repertoire, the ensemble, the food and the fun. That’s because HAGO stands for “Have A Good One”…
    I’m sure it’s obvious that we always welcome guitarists at our concerts, but we also welcome like-minded players who want to *join* us – there’s more info at http://www.hago.org.uk/join
    Every good wish Mark…


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