Finchcocks has had an interesting cultural and musical history over the years.
After standing for two centuries in the midst of glorious parkland and surrounded by hop-gardens in idyllic tranquillity, the arrival of the twentieth century and the First World War brought tougher times. Siegfried Sassoon was a regular guest, and adored “the wide and slippery oak stairs” and the “gracious red brick front of the house”. But the house was eventually requisitioned by the army during the Second World War and suffered a period of prolonged neglect.
Its fortunes improved dramatically when Richard and Katrina Burnett purchased the house in 1971, and set about restoring the property to its former glory. Their interest wasn’t just in the historic Grade 1 listed building, but in establishing a collection of historical keyboard instruments, which over the course of the subsequent 50 years, gained an international reputation and uniquely offered visitors from around the world the chance to play every instrument on display.
When the museum closed in 2015, many feared the music might stop and the lights might go out forever. But in 2016, Finchcocks was purchased by Neil and Harriet Nichols, who were determined to keep the music going.
Since establishing the piano school early in 2017, the newly established musical venture has received rave reviews. The BBC music magazine described it as “Paradise for pianists”, with the Sunday Times, the Spectator, the Pianist magazine and Classic FM all enthusing about the “luxury rooms”, “fine dining” and “incredible collection of grand pianos”, including the newly acquired Steinway Model B.
Weekend course or summer course?
Finchcocks offers both weekend and summer courses at all levels. Guests come from all over the world – some seeking to re-immerse themselves in the world of piano playing after a gap of a few decades, and others working hard towards and exam or a performance diploma.
Weekend courses consist of a mix of workshops to develop technique, masterclasses (focussing on performance) and individual tuition. Each course includes an evening recital on Saturday night, locally sourced food prepared by the in-house chef, delicious wine and beautifully appointed en-suite bedrooms.
The 5 day summer courses feature workshops and masterclasses too, but the pace is different: there is time to relax and explore the idyllic Kentish countryside and all that it contains. Advanced groups have the opportunity to visit fourteen historic keyboard instruments that used to be based at Finchcocks and now reside in Richard Burnett’s private collection in Tunbridge Wells, and intermediate groups get the chance to try their hands (and feet) at the organ in Goudhurst Church with tuition from David Hall.
Each guest has will have the opportunity to play each of the 10 grand pianos at Finchcocks, and the chance to be inspired by some incredible tutors in the most magical of settings.
22 July: Intermediate 5 day course with David Hall – 1 place remaining
29 July: Advanced 5 day course with Graham Fitch – 2 places remaining
30 Aug: Beginner weekend with Dave Hall – good availability
13 September: Advanced weekend course with Graham Fitch – good availability
20 September: Chopin weekend course with Warren Mailley Smith – good availability