Tag Archives: MusicHolidayItaly

An intensive piano week in Italy

Guest post by Claire Vane

If music be the food of love….play on….(but please let it be in Italy)

I know Italy well, and in particular central Italy – Le Marche – which is not, as imagined, anything whatsoever to do with marshes. It is a wonderful and prosperous area of Italy which brings together the mountains and the sea, greenery and sunshine, as well as many concerts and wonderful performances and, in addition, a Sferisterio in Macerata where operas are staged every summer in the most magnificent surroundings.

I decided that I would indulge myself by having a week of playing the piano in total peace and quiet in central Italy at Music Holiday Italy. Gil Jetley, who won the second edition of the prestigious triennial International Chopin Competition for amateurs in Warsaw in 2012, has set up a piano school in Italy. Although Gil has in the past run a number of group courses, he has now decided to focus on one-to-one tuition. If you think you’re going on a total relaxation holiday, forget it. But, I must admit, the food was delicious and the surroundings couldn’t be better. I adore the piano and take it very seriously… My children, who are now grown up, joke that it is at the top of my priority list… I perform as much as I can, and always for charity. I have been back at the keyboard for about ten years after a thirty-year gap and have been learning for the last three years with Warren Mailley-Smith, who is a marvel.

It’s late Saturday afternoon and I’m sitting in the Italian sun on a hill in southern Le Marche, contemplating the view and recovering from the physical exertion of playing the piano for 6 days, 6 hours a day. I agree that this is not a particularly huge amount if one is preparing for a recital and, in actual fact, I find 6 hours of practice, perhaps broken into two lots of three hours, not so physically demanding, but where this time is made up of six days, consisting of four hours of onte-to-one tuition, followed by 2 hours of practice, then the mental energy seems much greater.

The proof of the pudding….

I arrived in Ancona airport at Falconara to be whisked away in Gil’s Jaguar, into the mountains near Amandola and not far from Ascoli Piceno. Apart from speaking to Gil and the local grape farmers and restaurateurs whom we met in the evening, I did not speak to another adult, except on the telephone, for an entire week. It is a great place to avoid distractions and it is in sharp contrast to living in the middle of Cambridge where we ride bicycles because there are no hills.

What could be better doing the thing you love for a whole week? The only problem comes with everybody thinking that you’ve been on holiday. Do not be deceived by the name of the website!

Gil’s expertise in the kitchen is as excellent as his technique on the piano.

Every evening we ventured out to dinner, again in the beautiful Jaguar, and experienced the rewards of the region, including delicious salamis, wonderful mushroom risotto and the local restaurants around Montefalcone.

I was a little shocked to find that another piano nut such as myself did not have a name for his piano. My own piano, Charlotte, a Schimmel C189, would have been shocked to find that Gil’s mellow 7ft Italian Kawai did not have a name until I arrived.

I took with me a number of pieces including the Mozart Rondo K511, six Schubert Impromptus, the slow movement of Schubert D960 and the Mendelssohn Rondo Capriccioso… Gil is a man of detail and does not let anything pass. Though we did not always agree on interpretation or even sometimes on technique, Gil had me analyzing works in a way that I had not done for years and reminding me of harmonies long forgotten since my days at Junior College at the Royal Northern under Marjorie Clementi.

I stayed in the room called ‘Mozart’, which was a good choice for me, situated next to ‘Bach’, which was not occupied that week, and Mozart provided a lot of peace for me in a week when I was taking a break from the heat – both physical and mental. All in all an excellent learning experience, which I can recommend.

Gil is a man of many parts, and is pretty handy with screwdrivers, saws and other tools required to turn an old property into a very comfortable home. Be warned that if you wish to go for walks in the afternoon; if you descend to the local village 5km away you have to come back up the hill again…and the hill is steep. This is also, of course, an opportunity to get very fit. If you want to do some touring and take your family then this is also possible, though I would imagine that that this takes some of the focus away from the purpose of going in the first place – mainly to play the piano intensively and to enjoy being solitary and focused.

If you would like a week of intensive piano learning and practice in a peaceful environment with glorious walks in the hills of Italy, then this is the place to be.

One-to-one tuition 

Further information about MusicHolidayItaly

 

14657451_10154312353421773_4844777016158226596_nClaire Vane read Classics with Languages at Cambridge. She was a Saturday exhibitioner at what was the Royal Manchester College of Music and was taught by Marjorie Clementi, and over the last three and a half years by Warren Mailley Smith. Claire holds an Associate Diploma in Piano Performance and performs for a variety of charities. She is a Human Resources Consultant by day and is the founder and MD of a bespoke HR and Recruitment Consultancy, Integrated Resources Ltd. She describes herself as a “piano nut”, and enjoys courses which help her develop musically on the piano.

Introducing…… MusicHolidayItaly

MusicHolidayItaly (MHI) was created by Gil Jetley, a pianist/teacher with a lifetime experience in music as a second career. (In 2012 he won First Prize at the prestigious International Chopin Competition for amateurs in Warsaw which takes place every three years.). I recently met up with Gil to talk about his piano courses, pianists, repertoire and the pleasures and challenges of playing the piano……

Piano courses and summers schools seem to be more popular than ever now, and MHI is coming up to its third year of summer masterclasses for amateur pianists. What makes yours different from other courses and summer schools?

Well, first, no-one else is doing this in Italy, and secondly, we run not just one masterclass a year but several from Easter to the end of October. We offer both traditional group masterclasses and our unique One-on-One courses which have the added flexibility of participants being able to choose their own dates. Another aspect that makes us different is that we think in terms of “guests” rather than “students” or “participants”. We’re focussed on music coaching of course, but as well as a valuable musical experience we aim to give guests a truly authentic Italian experience.

You mention One-on-One courses – what is a One-on-One course?

It’s a unique concept as far as I know, and ideal if you are shy about performing to a group. A minimum of four hours personal coaching every day, unlimited practise time, and pampered attention from dawn to dusk. We even chauffeur you to and from the airport. It’s a stress-free way to learn a lot in a short time. Actually, our One-on-Ones are more in demand than the more common group masterclasses, possibly because there’s nothing else quite like them.

Who are the tutors?

The main tutor is Course Director Gil Jetley, a pianist/teacher with a lifetime experience in music as a second career. Guest tutors for 2017 still to be confirmed include Martin Roscoe and for 2018 we anticpate having Noriko Ogawa.

What’s new for 2017?

Teacher Symposiums: a chance for piano teachers to meet and learn from colleagues, contribute their own teaching  experiences, and support each other in a relaxed inspirational setting.  Learn what repertoire others use, review piano methods, discuss how to teach adults, see how your colleagues deal with technique, how they teach theory, prepare students for exams, and which syllabuses they favour. Further information here

For a week in July we are offering a special dedicated course for adult amateur pianists with arthiritis – further details here

You mention you aim to give truly authentic Italian experience. What do you mean by that?

Local cuisine is of course central to any Italian experience. On both group masterclasses and One-on-Ones, we wine and dine guests each evening at locally renowned restaurants. If there’s a piano on hand our guests are welcome to give an impromptu cabaret – the locals love it, and it makes for a great social evening out.

Equally important is our location in the very heart of the Sibilini National Park. Even Italians consider this one of the most beautiful, unspoilt parts of Italy. After the morning masterclass is over we encourage guests to spend at least one afternoon sampling local life through a range of ‘add-ons’ we can arrange.

What kind of ‘add-ons’?

Italian cooking lessons at a local restaurant are very popular, as are guided wine trails. Also visits to the countless mediaeval hilltop towns, many with priceless art in their museums, galleries and churches. For the energetic we can take you on lakeside walks, through forest trails, or up mountain scrambles, all impossibly photogenic with a chance to snap a golden eagle, porcupine, wild boar or even a loan wolf! For a highlight to the week, how about opera under the stars in a Roman amphitheatre? There are so many attractions, often guests follow up a week of music with a few extra days holiday experiencing life the Italian way.

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What about the accommodation?

As well as ensuite bedrooms at Montemuse (where the masterclasses take place) there is an organic farm with a restored farmhouse, family chalets and pool just five minutes away. So the whole family can come along on holiday too.

When is the best time to enrol?

Now! It’s really important to enrol early, ideally before Christmas, before the holiday booking season gets into gear. Remember the Sibilini Park is considered one of the most beautiful, unspoilt parts of Italy, and even though it’s far away from the tourist crowds, this region quickly gets booked solid for the summer. We’ve even had to cancel a scheduled course because all nearby accommodation was snapped up. So the earlier you enrol, the sooner we can reserve (and guarantee) your accommodation.

A word from previous participants?

We justly proud of the comments from our guests. You can check out more reviews on our website but here’s a sample from both our groups masterclasses and the One-on-Ones.

“Stunning, peaceful and inspirational”

“Great Director, made me feel incredible happy”

“Great teacher, patient, full of good energy, formidable”

“Perfect organisation”

“Lovely piano”

“Awesome meals, every evening a feast”

“Very, very enjoyable”

“Excellent value, both teaching and food!”

“Very satisfied, a fantastic musical experience”

And a final word from you, Gil?

There’s plenty of information and photos on our website so do take a look and explore the site. Especially do browse the reviews which should give you a good idea what to expect!

For further information about and booking please visit the musicholidayitaly website