Tag Archives: Piano courses

Masterclasses without tears




noun: masterclass; plural noun: masterclasses; noun: master-class; plural noun: master-classes


a class, especially in music, given by an expert to highly talented students.

The word “masterclass” can, for some, conjure up a terrifying scenario: the private lesson in public, with a formidable “master” teacher and a student quaking at the keyboard, their every error and slip heard and duly noted by teacher and audience. I remember watching music masterclasses on BBC Two in the 1970s (in the good old days when BBC Two broadcast such edifying and instructive arts programmes), with eminent musicians and teachers such as Daniel Barenboim and Paul Tortelier. It seemed to my junior piano student self a most nerve-wracking experience and certainly one to which I would not wish to submit.

Fast-forward thirty odd years and I’m now a mature piano student and teacher of piano. For me, the masterclass seems one of the most normal and beneficial ways of learning, providing as it does not just a lesson with a fine teacher but also a forum for critique by others and the exchange of ideas and discussion about aspects such as technique, interpretation, presentation and performance practice. It is this element of interaction with other pianists and active listeners/participants that makes the masterclass scenario quite different from the private lesson.

For students in conservatoire and specialist music schools, the masterclass is an every day form of learning, and for the teacher it is a way of sharing and passing on information to a group. A skilled teacher will ensure that all the participants in the class feel included, not just when they play, but also when others play, encouraging comments and discussion on what they have heard. A good teacher will also make sure negative comments are delivered in the kindest and most constructive way, so that participants feel supported and encouraged.

At many of the courses for adult amateur pianists in the UK and beyond, the masterclass is also a popular form of learning and teaching. Some of these classes are called “workshops” to make them sound more friendly, but in reality they are nearly always a group of c10 pianists, seated around the piano, eagerly absorbing wisdom from the teacher.

 My own teacher’s weekend courses are organised in the form of masterclasses, usually with 8 or 9 participants, which allows everyone the chance to play at least once a day. I admit that the first time I participated in one of these courses, I found the experience very daunting. By the end of the first day, I had decided everyone was far better than I! But by the end of the weekend, I had gained a huge amount from it, and I now look forward to such classes with relish.

Masterclasses are not just for advanced pianists either. The format is applicable to students of all levels and early students, and children, can benefit from observing a teacher working with another student on advanced repertoire, and vice versa. Seemingly complex aspects of technique can usually be reframed to suit early/intermediate students, and sometimes working on quite simple repertoire within a group can shed a new light on more difficult music.

 It is also useful training for concert/competition performance and can be a huge help in learning how to manage anxiety.

Watching a masterclass is a window onto how hard the pianist works and an insight into the practice of practising. Sometimes only fragments of a piece are worked over with the teacher, repeated, recast until a new, different or more exciting interpretation begins to emerge. Observing this process can be extremely exciting and enlightening, and for the masterclass participant, the instant feedback one receives from the teacher and other participants can be highly rewarding, often producing interesting and unexpected breakthroughs.

The London Piano Meetup Group, of which I am co-organiser, runs regular masterclasses with eminent teachers in central London locations. The next class is on Friday 25th April at the October Gallery, Bloomsbury, with pianist Ernest So. Further details here

London Masterclasses – now in its 26th year, London Masterclasses offerpublic masterclasses with leading performers working with advanced classical music students and young professionals before audiences in major London venues. Further information about the 2014 courses and tutors here

More on summer schools and courses for pianists.

A BBC masterclass with pianist David Owen Norris, which I attended as an observer:


Courses and summer schools for pianists in 2014

Is your practising getting you down? Do you need inspiration and encouragement? Would you like to meet other pianists and learn from the professionals? Then why not try a course or summer school this coming year…..

There are courses and summer schools for pianists of all levels, from single days and “taster” courses to piano weekends and whole weeks of piano goodness in the company of some of the finest pianists and teachers from around the world. Courses are a great way to connect with other pianists and like-minded people and are brilliant for improving skills such as technique and performance. Here is my round up of some of the best courses in the UK and beyond:

Hindhead Summer Piano Course. Held at Hindhead Music Centre in the picturesque South Downs, the 2014 course will have a special accent on the last three piano sonatas of Beethoven. Masterclasses, lectures, faculty and student concerts, discussion groups, “recorded treasures”, and more, plus fine food and a relaxed country house atmosphere. Taster and single day options. Faculty: James Lisney and Simon Nicholls. Ability cGrade 6 to post-diploma. Places still available on this popular course, now in its 11th year. Details here

**NEW** Lythe Chamber Music Course, 20-24 July 2014 Set in the historic coastal village of Lythe on the edge of the glorious North York Moors, LYTHE CHAMBER MUSIC COURSE 2014 is a DeNOTE Educational project offering a unique opportunity to explore a wide range of solo and ensemble repertoire for early keyboards (fortepiano, harpsichord, clavichord) and early clarinets, chalumeaux from the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries with specialists JOHN IRVING and JANE BOOTH. It is also a celebration of the craftsmanship of local keyboard builder JOHANNES SECKER and clarinet maker GUY COWLEY, whose instruments will be used in the course. Aimed at aspiring professional players, teachers, advanced students, and amateurs with good sight-reading ability (Grades 6 – 8+), the course will be of particular benefit and interest to clarinettists and pianists who wish to develop their interest and experience in playing on early instruments. Teaching will be in a diversity of formats, including individual tuition, ‘technical surgeries’, group workshops, lectures, seminars and a film showing. The course will include several concerts (including student performances) in local venues, including the historic St Oswald’s Church – an enchanting setting for music. A PDF giving more information about the course, along with application details as costs are available from the Lythe Chamber Music page of the Ensemble DeNOTE website: www.denote.org.uk

Jackdaws Music Education Trust. Courses throughout the year for pianists, instrumentalists and singers of all levels. Piano faculty includes Philip Fowke, Elena Riu, Margaret Fingerhut, Mark Tanner and Julian Jacobson. Details here

Chethams Summer School for Pianists. Known affectionately as “Chets”, this is probably the most famous summer school and boasts a fantastic faculty of international artists and teachers. Masterclasses, concerts, ensembles and more. 2014 faculty includes Leslie Howard, Carlo Grante, Leon McCawley, Murray McLachlan, Ashley Wass and Noriko Ogawa, amongst many others. Full details here

Walsall Summer School for Pianists. Formerly the well-established and popular Hereford Summer School for Pianists, the course successfully moved to a new home at the University of Wolverhampton in 2013. Mixed ability classes. Tutors will aim to cover both technical problems and interpretative points which will be of interest to the entire class. Faculty for 2014: James Lisney, Christine Stevenson, Graham Fitch, Lauretta Bloomer, Karl Lutchmayer. Details here

Penelope Roskell’s Advanced London Piano Courses. An inspiring and supportive weekend course (3 full days) focussing on repertoire, technique, and yoga for pianists. 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 a concert on the Sunday afternoon. Ability level: post-Grade 8 to post-diploma. Due to the popularity of these courses, Penelope will be running three courses in 2014. Full details here.

Penelope also runs one-day workshops for pianists and piano teachers exploring aspects such as performance anxiety and teaching technique. Further details of all courses here

Piano Week. Based at Bangor University in North Wales, Piano Week offers courses for adults and children of all levels. Masterclasses, recitals, talks and workshops. Artistic Director: Samantha Ward. Full details here

Lot Music. A convivial course, now in its 17th year, in a beautiful part of France. Fine food and a relaxed atmosphere for pianists of around Grade 8 ability. 2014 faculty: Susan Tomes and James Lisney (1 week each). Further information here

Music at Ambialet. Summer school for professional, advanced and amateur pianists in the Tarn region of France, established by renowned teacher and Debussy scholar Paul Roberts. The courses are select, with a maximum of 20 resident participants on each of the three eight-day courses throughout August. Full details here

Royal Conservatoire of Scotland Summer Schools This five and a half-day intensive summer schools aims to inspire pianists who are currently studying at conservatoire level or considering studying at a conservatoire. Students on the music summer school will benefit from using the Royal Conservatoire’s leading training and performance facilities, including a fleet of new pianos, wonderful concert venues and a state of the art recording studio. Full details here

London Piano Meetup Group. Not strictly a course, the LMPG, run by myself and Lorraine Liyanage, offers monthly performance platforms and masterclasses with visiting tutors for pianists of all levels in a friendly and supportive environment. Full details of all our events here

Dartington Summer School. The Summer School runs for five weeks, with 20-30 courses week-long courses taking place every day during each week – from individual instrumental and vocal classes to chamber music, large ensemble courses and composition. You can take part in up to four courses per week, and stay for one or all five weeks! Full details here

CoMA (Contemporary Music for All) 16 – 22 August. “an exhilarating and supportive environment for exploring new repertoires, developing music-making skills and forging new and enduring friendships.”. Full details here

**NEW** Dublin International Piano Festival Founded in 2013 by pianists Archie Chen and Rhona Gouldson, the Dublin International Piano Festival & Summer Academy showcases mastery in piano performance and provides a series of workshops and masterclasses for advanced students of the piano to improve their own performance skills and technique. The masterclasses are open to the public and will provide a special insight into music making. Full details here


Students with Penelope Roskell (centre) at her October 2013 piano course

October Piano Course

Another very stimulating, enjoyable and inspiring 3-day course with my teacher, Penelope Roskell.

I’m beginning to feel like an “old hand” at these courses – this was my seventh. I keep returning, autumn and spring, because I always find the course extremely helpful, as well as offering the opportunity to meet other pianists and piano teachers, share repertoire and enjoy “piano chat” during the coffee and lunch breaks. I have nothing to compare these courses with, as I have yet to pluck up the courage to attend longer courses such as Chetham’s Summer School, Walsall Summer School for Pianists or the Hindhead Music Centre piano course. Personally, I have always found the friendly setting of Penelope’s courses very encouraging, supportive and conducive to study. A mark of the reputation of the courses is that one of the participants had travelled from Malaysia to attend this time.

The courses are held at Penelope’s spacious family home in north London. The very setting – her Blüthner grand piano is in the family sitting room – makes for a friendly atmosphere from the outset, and students congregate in the kitchen to make tea and coffee, and to get to know each other. Penelope’s family come and go as the course progresses over the weekend, and lunch breaks are punctuated by the squeaking of the guinea pigs whose home is in the conservatory. With only nine students on the course it is very convivial, and beginning each day with warm up exercises, done in a circle (in the garden if the weather is fair) also helps to break the ice.

The course is structured around masterclasses, but these are not the “private lesson in public” where a student might be subjected to rigorous tuition; rather feedback and comment from the other participants is actively encouraged, and all the teaching has a relevance for everyone. Playing for a “master teacher” and before a small audience of fellow pianists can be both nerve-wracking and easy: nerve-wracking because those of us who play at an advanced level know a great deal about the music, but we are sympathetic to the hours of practising and study that have gone into each performance. Penelope’s great skill as a teacher is to identify a number of key points for each individual participant, be they technical, artistic or interpretative. She is adept at offering simple solutions to seemingly complex problems as well as offering expert advice on performance practice, physical tension and anxiety issues. Everyone student has the opportunity to play and receive one-to-one tuition each day of the course.

This time a number of participants admitted to suffering from quite severe performance anxiety, and a good part of the course was taken up with discussions about the reasons for performance nerves and developing coping strategies. The supportive atmosphere which Penelope manages to create enables even the most reluctant performer to play for the group: by the third day, it was wonderful to see and hear how one particular student had progressed in overcoming her nerves, so much so that she agreed to perform in the concert which closes the course. I love hearing how people’s music develops over the course of the weekend, and how a few seemingly simple suggestions or guidance from Penelope can have a transforming effect on someone’s playing: sometimes just thinking about the music overnight can have remarkable results.

The courses are open to students, teachers, professionals and amateurs at post-Grade 8 level, and are particularly useful for those who are preparing for auditions, competitions and diplomas, or for anyone who suffers from physical tension in piano playing. Due to their popularity, Penelope will be running three courses in 2014.

A selection of the repertoire played over the weekend:

Bach – Two-Part Inventions in E Major and A minor, Prelude & Fugue in E minor WTC Book 1, Fantasy in C minor BWV 906

Bartok – Dances in Bulgarian Rhythm, Nos 2 and 6

Brahms – Rhapsody in G minor

Liszt – Petrarch Sonnets

Messiaen – Regard de la Croix

Beethoven – ‘Pathetique’ Sonata, Bagatelle Op 126 No. 1, Sonata in A flat, Op 110

Schumann – Novelette in F

Schubert – Sonata in B flat, D960

Sinding – The Rustle of Spring

Debussy – Preludes: Les sons et les parfums tournent dans l’air du soir, Des pas sur la neige, La fille aux cheveux de lin, Minstrels, Feux d’artifice

Chopin – Nocturne Op 72, no. 1, Nocturne Op 9 No. 1, Waltz in C# minor op 64/2

Courses run from 31 January – 2 February, 25 – 27 April 2014 and 10 – 12 October 2014

Limited to nine students per course for maximum participation.

Fee £190 (EPTA and ISM members £180); students £120. Occasionally a scholarship is awarded to an outstanding student.

Nearest tube: Finsbury Park

For further details email: peneloperoskell@blueyonder.co.uk

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


Other piano courses in 2014 in the UK and France

Chethams International Summer School for Pianists

Piano Summer School – Walsall

Hindhead Summer Piano Course

Jackdaws Music Education Trust

Lot Music

Music at Ambialet

Piano Week – a piano course for children & adults

Piano Week is a new non-residential piano course for children and adults, set in the beautiful north Wales countryside near Bangor.

The initiative of pianist Samantha Ward, Piano Week offers courses for pianists of any age and ability. Participants will have the opportunity to perform on a beautiful Steinway grand piano in Powis Hall at Bangor University, as well as benefitting from one-to-one tuition, masterclasses and faculty recitals. The area also offers an abundance of other activities, from hill-walking in the stunning Snowdonia National Park, dry-slope skiing and go-karting.

Faculty includes: Samantha Ward, Chenyin Li, David Daniels, Maciej Raginia, Sachika Taniyama, Vesselina Tchakarova. The course is sponsored by Blüthner pianos.

Dates: 5th – 9th August 2013

Course fee: £395 per participant

Further information & bookings: www.pianoweek.com


Tal y Llyn, Snowdonia, North Wales

Tal y Llyn, Snowdonia, North Wales

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).

Courses for pianists at Jackdaws

Jackdaws Music Education Trust in Frome, Somerset, offers a wide range of courses for musicians of all abilities, with a great team of visiting tutors. Forthcoming courses of interest to pianists in 2013:

10-12 May 2013 – Piano Workshop with Philip Fowke

If you enjoy playing the piano, suffer from nerves, yet long to perform with greater security and confidence, then this is the course for you. Bring along your favourite pieces for discussion and exploration in a relaxed, informal environment. There is no obligation to perform any piece in full; it may be that you only wish to tackle a few bars at a time. The general standard is from about Grade 5 upwards, though this does not preclude those of a humbler ability. The emphasis is on learning with enjoyment, sharing difficulties with others, and discovering comfortable, practical ways to overcome musical and technical problems (NB this course is repeated in September).

My At the Piano interview with Philip Fowke

24-26 May 2013 – Pianos for All with Caecilia Andriessen

Are you an amateur pianist who can play Bach’s Inventions and Haydn’s Sonatas? Would you like to play in an ensemble with other pianists, just like string players do in a string quartet? Then join “Pianos for All”!

31 May-2 June 2013 – Russian Miniatures with Julian Jacobson

As well as writing some of the grandest works in the repertoire, Russian composers poured forth a stream of piano miniatures; music that can be passionate, reflective, charming or fantastical but which always demands a heartfelt response and a big but varied tonal palette. Composers such as Tchaikovsky, Borodin, Rachmaninov, Scriabin, Medtner, Prokofiev, Shostakovich, Kabalevsky, Kapustin and many others have given us a wealth of exquisite music in preludes and other short forms. Julian Jacobson, himself of partly Russian descent, will guide you through this challenging and inspiring repertoire. Course suggested repertoire: two or three contrasted pieces of up to 5 minutes each.

25-28 July – Piano Summer School with Mark Tanner

A very popular course, offering the opportunity to use the longer time of three days to get a better understanding of the sprawling piano repertoire. This lively course will concentrate on repertoire, style, technique and practice methods. How to choose music for diploma, grade exams and skeleton score study, improvisation, duets and more will all be discussed. Support will be available for those taking grade and diploma exams as well as those who just want to play for pleasure.

My At the Piano interview with Mark Tanner

Full details of all courses at


Piano Course – March 2012

Another excellent three days in the company of other advanced pianists – some students, some piano teachers like me, and some professional pianists – on the piano course run by my teacher, Penelope Roskell. We enjoyed a wide range of repertoire, from Scarlatti to Stephen Montague, and discussed and practiced aspects of technique such as soft hands and forearms, ‘Mozartian’ staccato (what Penelope descibes as “detached legato”), ‘orchestrating’ sonatas and piano works by Haydn and Mozart, and how to achieve a beautiful cantabile sound in Schubert’s Impromptu in G flat (D899 No. 3) and Chopin’s ‘Aeolian Harp’ Etude (Opus 25, No. 1). And much more besides….. Our coffee and lunch breaks were full of interesting ‘piano chat’ and it was both instructive and enjoyable to exchange ideas with other pianists and teachers. The next course is on September – details at the end of the post.

Despite finding the first course (in April 2009) very daunting, because of the very high standard of the other participants, I have always gained a huge amount from these courses: they are instructional, inspiring, very supportive, and non-competitive. Everyone comes to the course with different needs and interests, from help with tension or performance anxiety, or simply a desire to play through some repertoire to other people in a relaxed setting. The course always ends with a concert, to which friends and family are welcome. The performance aspect of these courses has done wonders for my confidence and I have lost any shyness I had about performing, and now actively enjoy it. The 30 seconds of contemplative silence which greeted my performance of Chopin’s Nocturne in E, Opus 62, No. 2 was the ultimate compliment at the concert yesterday afternoon, and I was flattered and touched by some of the comments I received afterwards.

What we played during the course:

Debussy – Preludes Book I: ‘La fille aux cheveux de lin’

Villa-Lobos – Prole de bebe No. 1: ‘O Polochinello’

Bach – Prelude & Fugue in F minor, XII, WTC Book 2

Chopin – Nocturne in E, Op. 62, No. 2 (me)

Mendelssohn – Variations Serieuses, Op. 54

Chopin – Berceuse, Op. 57

Scriabin – Piano Sonata No. 4, in F sharp major, Op. 30

Mozart – Piano Sonata in A minor, K 310 (1st & 2nd movements)

Haydn – Piano Sonata in E flat, No. 59, Hob. XVI:49 (1st movement)

Mozart – Piano Sonata in D, K 576

Chopin – Waltz in E minor, No. 14

Beethoven – Piano Sonata in F major, Op. 10 No. 2

Mozart – Piano Concerto No. 5 (1st movement)

Dave Brubeck – ‘Dad Plays the Harmonica’

Henry Cowell – ‘Exultation’

Stephen Montague – ‘The Headless Horseman’

Bach – Concerto in D minor after Marcello BWV 974 (me)

Chopin – Etude, Opus 25 No. 1 ‘Aeolian Harp’

Mozart – Rondo in A minor, K511 (me)

Scarlatti – Sonata K.215

Martin Butler – ‘After Concord’

Joanna MacGregor – Lowside Blues

Diana Burrell – ‘Constellations’

Schubert – Impromptu in G flat, D899 no. 3

Chopin – Nocturne, Op. 48 No. 1

Bach – Prelude & Fugue in C-sharp major, WTC Book 2, III

Prokfiev – Piano Sonata No. 3 (1st movement)

Liszt – Concert Study: ‘Un Sospiro’

Charles Tebbs – ‘Moonlight from Sunlight’ (Charles is a pianist and composer who attended the course and performed some of his own pieces for us)

You can hear most of the pieces via this Spotify playlist

‘Moonlight from Sunlight’ by Charles Tebbs

More on piano courses here (includes details of Penelope Roskell’s September course)

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.

Piano Course – April 2011

This coming weekend (Friday – Sunday) I will be attending my teacher’s course for advanced pianists. I did it last year and, despite going to it with a degree of trepidation (would everyone be better than me? would I manage to keep my cool to play for others, and in the concert?), I found it one of the most stimulating, supportive and inspiring ‘piano events’ I have ever attended. Such is my teacher’s style and manner that everyone was made to feel very comfortable (playing in the end of course concert is not obligatory, for example, though most people do opt to perform) and encouraged, I met some very nice people, it was a joy to spend an entire weekend immersed in glorious and varied piano music, and to “talk piano” with the other students over our coffee and tea breaks, and during lunch. The standard was extremely high, but at no time did it feel like a competition. We listened sympathetically, offered comments, took in Penny’s wisdom and I am sure everyone came away from the weekend having gained something important. It inspired me to start studying for a performance diploma and has helped me refocus the way I work so that my practising is far more productive, intense and carefully thought out.

Here is the repertoire list for this year’s course:

Bach – Toccata from Partita in E minor (me)

Mendelssohn – Prelude and Fugue no 4 in Ab

Liszt – Concert Studies Nos 1 and 3,

Liszt – Annees de Pelerinage:  Vallee d-Obermann

Liszt – Annees de Pelerinage: Sonetto 123 del Petrarca (me)

Chopin – 4th Ballade, Berceuse, Fantasie Impromptu

Kapustin -  Toccatina Op 36

Debussy – Prelude and Sarabande from Pour le piano (me)

Debussy – L’isle joyeuse

Schumann – Intermezzo in Eb minor from Faschingschwank

Scriabin – Prelude and Nocturne for left hand

Mozart – Sonata in Bb K281, Sonata K 311 3rd movement

Schubert – Impromptu Op 90 No 3

My teacher’s course, which runs twice-yearly (in the spring and early autumn) is one of many piano courses that take place around the UK, and further afield. A selection of some of the most popular:

Summer School for Pianists, Hereford (faculty includes John Barstow, Andrew Ball, James Lisney, Christine Stevenson). Ability: c.Grade 6 to advanced/post-diploma. Concerto, soloists, duet and improvers classes. Masterclasses, lectures and performances by faculty.

Chethams International Summer School for Pianists (faculty includes Peter Donohoe, Philip Fowke, Leon McCawley, Jeremy Siepmann, Penelope Roskell, and many more). One of the biggest and best piano summer schools. Wide range of abilities from intermediate to post-diploma/professional. Children and adults.

Penelope Roskell’s Advanced London Piano Course (faculty Penelope Roskell, Trinity College of Music). Three-day intensive course for advanced amateurs, students, teachers and professional pianists. Limited to 8 students, the course begins each day with exercises (in Penny’s garden, if the weather is fair) to relieve tension, followed by one-to-one tuition for each student (everyone gets to play at least once each day). Coaching on repertoire, technique, performance, anxiety. Particularly useful for those preparing for diplomas, competitions or concerts. Ability: advanced (post-Grade 8 – post-graduate)

Piano Course, Hindhead Music Centre, Hindhead, Surrey (faculty Simon Nicholls and James Lisney). Four-day intensive course with masterclasses, workshops, lectures, recitals by faculty. Ability: Grade 7 to post-diploma.

Jackdaws Music Education Trust, Frome, Somerset: various courses for pianists, singers and instrumentalists throughout the year.

Sherborne Summer School of Music, Sherborne, Dorset. (Formerly Canford Summer School of Music). Various courses for pianists, singers, conductors and instrumentalists. The piano course is taught by Andrew Ball and is open to good amateurs and students.

Aldeburgh Festival/Britten-Pears Young Artist Programme (UK)

Oxford Philomusica (UK)

International Musicians’ Seminars Prussia Cove

Information on various other courses, for a wide range of abilities, here

International courses and summer schools (small selection: there are more extensive listings in recent issues of ‘Pianist’ and ‘International Piano’ magazines). Many are aimed at advanced students, but there are also plenty of courses for keen amateurs.

Austrian International Piano Seminar and Festival (Austria)

Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival and Masterclasses (Germany)

Orlando Festival (Netherlands)

Music Academy of the West Summer School and Festival (USA)

Rocky Ridge Music Summer Camp and Festival (USA)

Music at Ambialet

Lot Music Piano Course