We know advanced pianists will be absolutely delighted to have the opportunity to spend five days learning from and being inspired by the inimitable Florian Mitrea. Below, he describes his plan for the Finchcocks 2024 summer school course for advanced pianists (beyond grade 8, preparing for – or at – diploma standard, or higher).
Our 5-day courses are a well established highlight of the Finchcocks calendar. To ensure a relaxed and comfortable atmosphere, places are open to those who have attended at least one weekend Finchcocks course previously.
“The advanced 5-day course provides us with the ideal framework to explore music-making in all its aspects. It gives us the necessary time to discuss issues regarding the role of technique, touch, phrasing, and sound production, from both historic and contemporary perspectives. It also provides the opportunity to experiment with these in several performances, either in a masterclass setting or in the various informal concerts, with a goal to finding your own fresh voice with the music that you are playing.
I will always listen to your own response to each piece and match my artistic suggestions with possible technical means to achieve them, not in a prescriptive way, but rather in a manner that will give you options, which you can then explore during your practice and reach a final interpretative decision. With the already well-established format that includes masterclasses, as well as interactive workshops and individual lessons, I am looking forward to spending these days with you talking music all day long, sharing what makes us all so passionate about it.”
Like our weekend courses, formal tuition takes place in workshops, performance classes and one-to-one lessons.
- Workshop 1: Posture and Performance – a crash-course in movement at the piano
This is all about reviewing the basic premises of our piano playing – refreshening ideas about we sit at the piano, what the optimal height position of the piano stool might be, and using upper body posture and strength to enhance our performance. We will be analysing how the different joints of the hands and the arms are contributing significantly to a satisfying feeling of freedom at the piano, while also avoiding injuries and strains. You will be taking in turns trying out some very simple movement exercises, and, most significantly, be prepared to wriggle your knees (you will quickly learn why this is very important)!
- Workshop 2: It’s about time!
Music is an art unfolding in time. Therefore, issues related to time are always on our minds. Let’s explore how understanding and controlling time can lead to a more satisfying performance. We will be looking at examples from various composers, learning how each individual musical style needs a tailored approach to timing and pacing, and we will learn how rhythms (and our approach to them) turn into artistic expression.
- Workshop 3: Flash-fixing surgery
Do you remember that one passage that always seem to go strangely in a performance, no matter how hard you practise? This may be a chance to sort it out once and for all. This workshop will begin with some general ideas about why mishaps happen while we play, distinguishing between accidents and slips which are insignificant and will not affect the overall outcome, and more serious problems which make you nervous and don’t seem to go away. We will also be looking at some general ways in which we can avoid these problems from happening. In the second part of the course, you will each be invited to bring a short section (it could be just a few bars), and I will do my best to offer practical tips and solutions to help you on your way to mastering it.
- Workshop 4: Being in the flow
Getting into the optimal physical and mental state for performance is a life-long process, but there are ways in which we can learn to achieve this more quickly, maybe even on-demand. This will be a deep exploration of what our preparation at the piano involves, the multi-faceted aspects of our practising, and how it all leads to the wonderful feeling of complete identification with the pieces that we are playing and our own personal sound at the piano.
- Workshop 5: Learning through memorisation
Playing from memory is not necessarily historically authentic, and it became common practice only in the late 19th century. We will first discuss why people bother playing from memory at all, and whether it is or isn’t an important part of the performing act. More significantly though, I will be sharing with you principles and ideas about why I believe memorisation is an important part of learning, and how incorporating a little bit of memorisation into your learning will lead to more satisfying results in the long run, and it can make practising feel more creative and fun.
We’ll also have a bit of fun! We’ll explore the private gardens at Finchcocks, experience a local wine tasting, be able to go for beautiful Kentish countryside walks to Scotney castle and enjoy a session or two in the family’s new heated swimming pool, weather permitting.
And of course, it goes without saying that you can expect the usual!
- Have the chance to play in and observe multiple performance masterclasses.
- Will receive one-to-one lessons with Florian.
- Enjoy access to play on our 9 grand pianos anytime between 7am and 8pm. (There are enough pianos to go round that everyone can play a piano at any given time.)
- Experience a salon-style concert performed by Florian exclusively for guests.
- Have the chance to take part in a recital on the Bosendorfer in the main hall of the family home.
- Join and socialise with a group 8 fellow piano enthusiasts during lunch and dinner.
- Dine in style with lunches and three course dinners prepared by our fabulous chef.
- Experience the Finchcocks bubble, hailed as a “paradise for pianists” by BBC Music Magazine and stay in a grade 1 listed country manor.
Plus ones are very welcome on our courses, with a room surcharge dependant on whether they are a playing or non-playing guest. Please ask for further details.
This is a unique, luxury UK-based piano gem and an experience that you won’t forget anytime soon. Many guests continue friendships made on these courses, encouraging each other on in the piano playing on Whatsapp, organising private piano meet ups further down the line… and bumping into each other again on future courses!
For booking enquiries, please contact Jenny on 01580 428080 or fill in the form below.
from £1450 (inclusive of accommodation, tuition and all food and wine)