Courses for Pianists 

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, and inspiring productive practising. Here is my round up of some of the best courses in the UK and beyond:

Courses in the UK

IMG_6747(1)The Dancing Piano **New** – The only intensive piano course for ballet pianists anywhere in the world. From 1st to 8th September 2017 Nicki Williamson, whose career has spanned 25 years in the dance spectrum, will be conducting The Dancing Piano – a week long course to be held at the Du Boisson Dance Studios in London. It will provide training and support for pianists to learn and develop the skills to become a professional pianist for dance. The focus will be on playing for a ballet class – a much overlooked, underrated and misunderstood skill. The Dancing Piano is a unique opportunity. It is the only course of its kind available in the world. Nicki Williamson brings the skills she has developed through a multi-faceted career to this course with the aim to inspire and educate a new generation of dance musicians. Her career has encompassed a huge variety of experience: A lifetime of working with myriad artists from Courtney Love to Michael Crawford to West End musicals, The Royal Ballet and classical recitals she has a singular approach to music and the arts. Further information www.thedancingpiano.com

Pianissimi  A three-day intensive piano course for advanced adult pianists (Grade 7 to post-diploma). The aim of the course is to meet other pianists, receive excellent tuition and be immersed in music. Tutors include Penelope Roskell and Warren Mailley-Smith. In addition to masterclasses and one-to-one tuition, students also have the opportunity to work with yoga teacher Izzy Ixer and soprano Claire Weston. This is a not for profit venture. Any profits will be donated to Cancer Research UK. Further information pianissimi.wordpress.com

Cadenza International Summer Music School for piano and strings. Teaching provision is generous and fair and, unusually, there is time to focus on both solo repertoire and daily chamber groups. A minimum of three individual lessons on each student’s first study instrument is guaranteed, along with pianist rehearsals and concert opportunities. Everyone plays in at least one chamber group which is coached not less than every second day. Repertoire plans can be made in advance, especially for pianists. Groups and partnerships can evolve flexibly during the week – the coaching timetable is arranged in two day cycles by mutual consent www.cadenzasummerschool.org.uk

Chetham’s Summer School for Pianists. Known affectionately as “Chets”, this is the most famous UK piano summer school and boasts a fantastic faculty of international artists and teachers. Masterclasses, concerts, ensembles and more www.pianosummerschool.com

CoMA Contemporary Music Summer School. This year’s course offers a range of piano options masterclasses with Rolf Hind and the opportunity to compose piano works that reflect Orkney’s natural world. Plus composition, contemporary and string ensembles, voice and music theatre, on-location sound recording, together with a range of workshops, talks and walks, concerts and opportunities to experience, respond to and interact with the landscapes of Orkney. In Orkney, 22-30 July 2017. Full details at www.coma.org/summer-school

Jackdaws Music Trust. Popular courses throughout the year for pianists, singers and other instrumentalists. Piano tutors include Graham Fitch, Timothy Barratt, Margaret Fingerhut, Philip Fowke, Elena Riu, and Mark Tanner. Courses to suit intermediate to advanced students, plus courses on jazz, accompanying and duets. www.jackdaws.org.uk

Lythe Chamber Music. Chamber music course for keyboard, string and wind players wishing to explore historical performance on modern or historical instruments in the beautiful setting of the North Yorkshire coastline and moors. Students, teachers and amateurs Grade 6 upwards. Faculty includes John Irving (historic keyboards). www.lythechambermusic.wordpress.com

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. www.peneloperoskell.co.uk/courses

London Piano Meetup Group. In addition to regular informal performance platforms and social events for adult pianists, LPMG also runs one-day courses with visiting tutors including Graham Fitch and Mark Polishook. The group is run via an email mailing list (londonpianomeetup@gmail.com) and Facebook group

Piano Week Run by pianist Samantha Ward, Piano Week offers classes for adults and children of all abilities, combined with an international piano festival. pianoweek.com

Pro Corda. Adult courses designed to serve both the keen amateur musician who has little time in a hectic lifestyle to further skills and indulge their musical passion and excitement, along with those who have never had the chance to develop musical skills but have always longed to do so. The unique setting of Leiston Abbey is the perfect place to enjoy music along with great food and wine, while getting to know other like-minded people in a warm and sociable environment. www.procorda.com

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A student & tutor at the Summer School for Pianists

Summer School for Pianists. This popular and long-standing summer school offers courses for pianists taught in mixed ability groups. All-Steinway facilities at the University of Wolverhampton’s Walsall campus. Friendly atmosphere, tutor recitals and pre-concert talks, plus opportunities for accompanying and duet playing pianosummerschool.co.uk

Courses in Europe

Music at Albignac. The latest incarnation of the renowned piano summer school Music at Ambialet founded in 1991 by the pianist Paul Roberts and arts journalist Jenny Gilbert. Over the years they have maintained and developed their original vision: to nurture the highest standards of music-making in tranquil and idyllic surroundings, bringing together teachers and pianists of international reputation with conservatoire students from around the globe; and to offer the same learning opportunities to amateur pianists, giving them a quality of teaching and insight. www.albignacmusic.com

Music Holiday Italy. A series of one-week courses for pianists who love music, sunshine and Italy. Courses, including one-to-one bespoke tuition, run throughout the year at Montemuse in the heart of the Apennine mountains. The idea is simply to give amateur pianists a chance to learn from colleagues in an inspirational, relaxed setting. No set standard, maximum of 8 students per course. Plenty for families too including walking and Italian cookery classes.  Piano Teachers’ Symposium – new for 2017.  www.musicholidayitaly.com

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La Balie. Summer courses for advanced pianists in the beautiful Lot-et-Garonne region of France. Luxury accommodation and gourmet food, masterclasses in small group of no more than 8 students, tutor and student concerts. Faculty: James Lisney. Further information www.labalie.com

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The Studio at La Balie

Frances Wilson blogs on pianism, classical music and culture