Tag Archives: Penelope Roskell

April 2013 Piano Course

I’ve just attended another of my piano teacher’s excellent 3-day courses for advanced pianists. As regular readers of this blog will know, I am a great fan of my teacher’s courses, which provide a supportive, friendly and inspiring setting for study.

The course is run as a series of masterclasses, offering plenty of input from other participants and important one-to-one tuition with Penelope Roskell, who is a highly-skilled and experienced teacher. There are regular breaks which give everyone the opportunity for “piano chat” and on the last day, we have an informal concert followed by a drinks party.

One of the things I love most of all about these courses is the transforming effect they can have on people who may arrive on the first day anxious and uncertain what to expect. Penelope is a very patient and sympathetic teacher, who is able to draw out the very best in people. One of this year’s participants was on the Autumn 2012 course, an anxious player who gradually unwound as the weekend progressed. It was wonderful to see how far she has come, following private lessons with Penelope in the intervening months, and to hear her playing with greater confidence and poise.

Some people come on the course simply to run repertoire by a friendly audience ahead of a concert. Others are preparing for diplomas, competitions or auditions. For me, this course was to encourage me to pick up some new repertoire following my Diploma. I felt very flat in the days immediately after the exam, and the need to prepare some music for the course was just what I needed to get me playing again. I wanted to run some pieces by my teacher to make sure I was heading in the right direction with them. A number of my pianist friends were attending the course this time as well, so in many ways it was a social event for me and the chance to catch up with friends and colleagues. And make new friends too.

As always, the range of repertoire was very wide, from Bach to Satoh (a contemporary Japanese composer), and the standard very high. But there was never a feeling we were in competition with each other. We were there to share repertoire, offer positive feedback on one another’s playing, and learn. I have compiled a playlist on Spotify of all the pieces we played (except for Fazil Say’s transcription of Mozart’s ‘Rondo Alla Turca’, which should be available on YouTube).

Penelope Roskell’s Piano Courses 2013

Announcing Penelope Roskell’s forthcoming piano courses and piano events in 2013

Advanced Piano Course

The next three-day advanced courses will take place on 26-28 April 2013, and 11-13 October 2013 (10am – 5pm).  Penelope is an inspiring and dedicated teacher, and the courses, which are open to all advanced pianists (Grade 8 – post-diploma), amateur, student or professional, offer a very supportive and stimulating learning environment.

Taking place over three days, the advanced course focuses on repertoire, technique, and yoga for pianists, and is ideal for pianists preparing for concerts, competitions, diplomas or auditions, or for anyone suffering from technical problems, physical tension, injuries or nerves. The course is run as a series of masterclasses with plenty of opportunities for discussion and exchange of ideas, and ends with an informal concert on the Sunday afternoon.

Limited to eight students per course for maximum participation – one student scholarship available.

Fee: £195 (ISM and EPTA members £185)  Students £120 

One-day Performance Workshop 23rd June 2013  

A relaxed, supportive opportunity for pianists Grade 7 and above to meet other pianists and work on own-choice repertoire.

Fee £70 (half day £40)

Workshop for Piano Teachers on Teaching Piano Technique 

Sunday  3rd March 2013.  This workshop is open to all piano teachers, who are interested in discussing aspects of teaching technique within an encouraging setting.  Each teacher will be invited to prepare one or two short students’ pieces, which will form the basis of discussion.

Fee £70, (EPTA and ISM members £65) 

New North London Piano Group

Regular monthly meetings in North East London, first Tuesday in the month, 7.30-9.30 (except during holiday times).

Fee: £180 for 8 sessions

Venue for all courses:

The Studio
66 Queen Elizabeth’s Walk
Stoke Newington

LONDON N16 5UQ
0208 802 6258

 

Private lessons also available – please contact Penelope for details.

www.peneloperoskell.co.uk

Please note Penelope’s forthcoming London concerts this spring, at Sutton House, Hackney London E9 6JQ. Both concerts free to under 26s.

Sunday March 17th, 3pm 

Roskell Piano Trio

Shostakovich Trio No 1
Schumann Piano Trio No 2 in F
Beethoven “Archduke” Trio

 

Sunday May19th 7pm 

Fitzwilliam Quartet and Penelope Roskell, piano

Programme to include Schumann Piano Quartet Op 47.

Further information and tickets www.shms.org.uk

Bachtrack review

Some student comments on recent advanced piano courses:

“This was an Epiphany for me:  I felt so moved by my own playing”. S.D. (UK) 

“Thank you for another very inspirational course.  I came home on such a high!  Already looking forward to the course next year”  E.G-J (Eire) 

“I liked the course 100%. I achieved even more than I had hoped”  C.B (Romania) 

“I wanted to thank you again for this extremely rewarding day of masterclasses! Thanks a lot for your welcome, your generosity and your highly beneficial musical advice! M.E. (France) 

 

Penelope Roskell, short biography 

Penelope Roskell is an international concert pianist and Professor of Piano at Trinity College of Music. She has taught at undergraduate and postgraduate level for over twenty five years and has a special expertise in the field of piano technique. She is the only piano teacher in England recommended for referrals for physical tension and injuries by the British Association for Performing Arts Medicine. Her DVD on Yoga for Musicians is recognised as a major contribution to research in this field, and she is currently preparing a DVD on Effortless Piano Technique.

As a performer, she has appeared as soloist at major concert halls throughout Britain, and in over thirty countries in Western and Eastern Europe, the United States, Africa, Asia, and the Middle and Far East. 

 

Guest post: Playfulness in Piano Playing

by Penelope Roskell, pianist and Professor of Piano and Piano Pedagogy at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance

If we reflect on the language that we use in our teaching, we will probably notice that many of the words we use imply a rather serious, one might even say tedious view of life: practise hard, exercises, repetition, accuracy, evenness, examinations – no wonder so many students find piano playing boring compared to the fun of playing with friends or computer games!

I think we all need to remind ourselves frequently of the possible alternative words: ease, beauty, flow, flourish, caress, communication, fun, delight, and, most importantly perhaps, playfulness. I personally don’t remember ever having heard that word in any piano lesson when I was a student!

If we see and hear a true virtuoso play, we are not aware of fear or wrong notes, or stiffness in the joints, or awkward, ungainly movements. We are taken up in the joy and delight of sheer playfulness of physicality on the piano. Now, of course some people tend to look down their noses on “mere virtuosos” as somehow lacking in seriousness, and it is true that in some cases their playfulness may also equate with a certain superficiality of character. But when that delightful virtuosity is combined with depth of feeling, a rigorous intellect and real artistry, then we witness the pinnacle of piano playing in all its fullness.

It is a recognised fact that children learn more quickly and enthusiastically through play, and I believe this also applies to teaching piano technique, both for children and for adults. If we watch a child spending time alone at the piano, they delight primarily in any activities that involve movement around the piano. This might be big jumps, glissandi, staccato, big banging chords – they don’t generally relish playing the sort of two note legato “tunes” we find in many beginners’ tutor books.

Imagine how it must feel for a very active six year old to be asked not only to sit still for half an hour, but also not to move his arms beyond the middle C five-finger position (thumbs on middle C, elbows in, wrists swivelled inwards, shoulders up)! This straight-jacketed feeling can be absorbed into their experience of piano playing from the earliest stages, and can become a very entrenched habit.

Kurtag in ‘Jatekok’ (which means “Games”) attempts to address this problem in a fascinating way – approaching each aspect of piano playing with a very broad gesture (such as clusters around the piano) which then becomes more refined into a piece with notes which need to be played accurately. Various other tutor books recognise the advantage of embracing the whole of the keyboard. The Little Keyboard Monster series, for example, contains some delightfully imaginative pieces using glissandi, leaps etc. from an early level.

The fear of playing wrong notes is very powerful, and can lead to tension throughout the muscular structure. At all levels, I think it is important to balance the need for accuracy with freedom of movement, sometimes to exhort the student: “don’t worry about wrong notes at the moment – feel the technique freely first, then refine it!” Paradoxically, if we aim first for beauty of sound, muscular freedom and emotional expression, almost invariably we play more right notes in the long run.

Although I do frequently teach my students Etudes (particularly, at advanced level, the Chopin and Debussy Etudes from which so much can be learnt), I often find that much valuable time can be wasted learning several pages of somewhat indifferent music for just one aspect of technique – time which could have been much better spent learning some great repertoire. I feel there is much benefit to be gained for each teacher to develop his own notebook of very short exercises which cover all the necessary movements require for specific techniques. These should be simple and short enough to be taught by imitation, rather than by note-learning. The resulting enjoyment is liberating.

I was recently teaching an adult pupil the ‘Prelude’ from Pour le Piano (Debussy). She had worked at it very thoroughly, but the result was somewhat heavy and wooden. So, we started to make up some exercises together (perhaps I can now call these “games”) which were partly based on passages in this piece.

These exercises are very difficult to describe, because the main feature of them is of fluid, swirling hand and arm movements which flow, interact and overlap each other (if you have ever seen a chef tossing pizza dough between his hand you will know the sort of movements I mean). The arm, wrist and hand are extremely soft and fluid and the fingers just “play” very lightly on the keys. Each exercise should be played as fast as possible – caution is not recommended. There is no credit to be gained from playing correct notes, but the beauty of sound is encouraged. In fact, all the exercises are played by imitation (not reading the notes) so that the tension of note-reading and the fear of playing wrong notes are eliminated.

Each piece can be the starting point for similar “games”, and game can be simplified or made more complex, depending on the level of the student. The pupils themselves can start to make up their own. One new technique can be introduced in each lesson in this very amiable way. The possibilities are endless – and fun!

© Penelope Roskell

(This article first appeared in the summer 2012 issue of ‘Piano Professional’, the journal of the European Piano Teachers’ Association.)

Penelope Roskell is equally renowned as a performer of international calibre and as an inspirational teacher and professor of piano at Trinity College of Music. Full biography here.

For information about courses, private tuition, books and DVDs please visit:

www.peneloperoskell.co.uk

Concerts at Sutton House

Sutton House

Sutton House in Hackney, east London, is truly a ‘hidden gem’. Built in 1535, the house, now owned by the National Trust, holds a fascinating juxtaposition of oak-panelled Tudor rooms, Jacobean wall paintings and Georgian and Victorian interiors.

Sutton House Music Society, of which my teacher, Penelope Roskell, is Artistic Director, has a busy and varied programme of chamber concerts, which take place in The Barn, a relaxed and intimate recital space. Upcoming concerts include ‘The Art of Encore’ with Philip Fowke, and a performance by members of the Fitzwilliam Quartet with Penelope Roskell in music by Mendelssohn, Beethoven and Kodály.

Sutton House is a unique venue which deserves our support. Do go along to a concert if you can.

Further information, including tickets, here

Penelope Roskell’s Advanced London Piano Course

There are still places available on Penelope Roskell’s Spring course (16th-18th March). Penelope is an inspiring and dedicated teacher, and the courses, which are open to all advanced pianists (Grade 8 – post-diploma), amateur, student or professional, offer a very supportive and stimulating learning environment.

Taking place over three days, the March course will focus on repertoire, technique, and yoga for pianists, and is ideal for pianists preparing for concerts, competitions, diplomas or auditions, or for anyone suffering from technical problems, physical tension, injuries or nerves. The course is run as a series of masterclasses with plenty of opportunities for discussion and exchange of ideas, and ends with an informal concert on the Sunday afternoon.

Limited to eight students per course for maximum participation – two scholarships available.

Penelope Roskell is an international concert pianist, and Professor of Piano and Piano Pedagogy at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance.

 

Please contact Penelope direct for further information or to book a place

Dates: Friday 16 March – Sunday 18 March 2012, 10am – 5pm
Course fee: £195 (ISM and EPTA members £185)

 

Venue

The Studio
66 Queen Elizabeth’s Walk
Stoke Newington
LONDON
N16 5UQ

Tel. 0208 802 6258
Email peneloperoskell@blueyonder.co.uk

Map of venue

 

Courses and workshops for pianists and piano teachers

My teacher, Penelope Roskell, is running a number of courses for pianists and piano teachers through the autumn and into next year. I have attended two of her weekend courses for advanced pianists and her one-day workshop for piano teachers, and can thoroughly recommend them. She is a patient, skilled and inspiring teacher, and the courses are very stimulating and supportive. For further information about any of these courses, please contact Penelope direct (details at end of post).

Advanced London Piano Courses

5-7 October 2012, 26-28 April 2013, and 11-13 October 2013 (10am – 5pm)

Penelope is an inspiring and dedicated teacher, and the courses, which are open to all advanced pianists (Grade 8 – post-diploma), amateur, student or professional, offer a very supportive and stimulating learning environment. There are still some places available on each of these courses.

Taking place over three days, the advanced course focuses on repertoire, technique, and yoga for pianists, and is ideal for pianists preparing for concerts, competitions, diplomas or auditions, or for anyone suffering from technical problems, physical tension, injuries or nerves. The course is run as a series of masterclasses with plenty of opportunities for discussion and exchange of ideas, and ends with an informal concert on the Sunday afternoon.

Limited to eight students per course for maximum participation – two student scholarships available.

Fee: £195 (ISM and EPTA members £185) Students £120.

Apply here. Further details can be obtained from Penelope Roskell at peneloperoskell@blueyonder.co.uk or 0208 802 6258

One-day Performance Workshop

Saturday 10 November 2012

A relaxed, supportive opportunity for pianists Grade 7 and above to meet other pianists and work on own-choice repertoire. Ideal for those who may not really ready yet to attend a three-day advanced course.

Fee £70 (half day £40)

Workshop for Piano Teachers
‘Teaching Piano Technique’

Sunday 3rd March 2013

This workshop is open to all piano teachers, who are interested in discussing aspects of teaching technique within an encouraging setting. Each teacher will be invited to prepare one or two short students’ pieces, which will form the basis of discussion.

Fee £70, (EPTA and ISM members £65)

North London Piano Group for Adult Amateurs

Regular monthly meetings in North East London, first Tuesday in the month, 7.30-9.30 (except during holiday times). Fee: £180 for 8 sessions.

Penelope Roskell’s Advanced Piano Course

There are places still available on my teacher’s advanced piano course in September (16th-18th). The course is held in her home in north London, and is open to all pianists of a high standard, from international performers to piano students, piano teachers and advanced amateurs. All participants have the option to play in an informal concert at the end of the course.

The course includes work on repertoire, technique, and teaching and study methods, and also incorporates yoga for pianists and healthy piano technique. The course is particularly helpful for pianists preparing for concerts, auditions, diplomas, or for anyone suffering from technical difficulties, physical tension, injuries or nerves.

The course runs from 10am to 5pm Friday to Sunday, with breaks for coffee, lunch and tea. Everyone has the opportunity to play at least once every day.

Penelope Roskell is an inspiring and patient teacher, and the course offers a very supportive and friendly working environment.

Venue: The Studio, 66 Queen Elizabeth’s Walk, Stoke Newington, London N16 5UQ Tel. 0208 802 6258

Fee: £180 (students £140). Two scholarships/bursaries are available.

Further information including an application form from: peneloperoskell@blueyonder.co.uk

Review: Penelope Roskell at Sutton House

My piano teacher, Penelope Roskell, performed at Sutton House, in Hackney on Sunday evening, in a fascinating programme in which she juxtaposed the reason of Bach with the mercurial romance of Schumann. Read my review for Bachtrack.com here.

Penelope Roskell is an acclaimed concert pianist and Professor of Piano and Piano Pedagogy at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance in London, and is Artistic Director of Sutton House Music Society.

Sutton House Music Society

Sutton House

Concerts at Sutton House

My piano teacher, Penelope Roskell, is peforming in two concerts at the delightful and intimate small venue Sutton House this month and next.

Sunday 15th May, 7pm

‘An English Summer Evening’ – Fitzwilliam String Quartet with Penelope Roskell

Artists in residence, the Fitzwilliam String Quartet, and Artistic Director of SHMS, Penelope Roskell, present a programme celebrating the work of those two quintessentially English composers, Ralph Vaughan Williams and Edward Elgar. Both the works being performed were written during war-time and are profound and intense music.

Ralph Vaughan Williams - String Quartet No. 2 (‘for Jean on her birthday’)

Sir Edward Elgar - Piano Quintet in A minor Op. 84

To reflect the English nature of the concert, there will be Pimms and Punch on sale from 6.30pm and during the interval. The bar will also be open after the concert to allow audience members to enjoy a drink with the performers.

Sunday 19th June, 7pm

‘Reason and Romance’

A solo concert by Penelope Roskell, juxtaposing the reason and intellect of J S Bach with the mercurial romance of Robert Schumann.

J S Bach - Chromatic Fantasia and Fugue

Robert Schumann – ‘Papillons’

J S Bach - French Suite No. 2 in C minor

J S Bach – Partita No. 5 in G

Robert Schumann - Piano Sonata No. 2 in G minor

Sparkling wine will be on sale with complimentary strawberries and cream in the courtyard during the interval.

Sutton House, a National Trust House in Hackney, is a really lovely venue. I was very impressed the first time I visited, two year’s ago, both by the quality of the performances, and the commitment and support of the audience.

For more information and online booking go to www.shms.org.uk