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Interpretation and improvisation: Advanced applied theory with David Hall – upper intermediate – diploma

11 April 2025 @ 7:00 pm - 13 April 2025 @ 3:30 pm

Circle of fifths at Finchcocks

This course, run by Finchcocks Musical Director David Hall, is ideal for anybody who wants to go beyond grade 5 theory to further develop their keyboard skills of interpretation, improvisation, harmonisation and transposition. It would best suit the Upper Intermediate pianist who has good understanding of grade 5 music theory upto Advanced players. David will also cover any specifics for those considering or preparing for grade 8 theory exam (or equivalent) should they wish.

Why study music theory and harmony? 

You can understand repertoire more fully. 

If you can identify chords and cadences – if you can pick out passages of intervallic counterpoint – if you can condense a whole passage of music into one concept – then you can learn repertoire more quickly and you can memorise it more quickly. Instead of saying “this is line 1” and “this is line 2”, start saying “this is the F major phrase” and “this is the D minor phrase”. You’ll soon find that the notes sink in a little more quickly.  

You can interpret music better and more authentically. 

If you understand the pushes and pulls of harmony, you can judge your rubato and your dynamics to convey the harmonic tension to the listener. If you understand which chords are prosaic and which are exciting or particularly calming, then you can pace your performance accordingly.  

You can understand composers’ thought processes. 

Knowledge of music theory helps you to understand music in the same way that composers understand music. 

 You can learn to improvise and compose your own music. 

All the great composers of the Baroque and Classical era were taught harmony, counterpoint, style and structure from an early age so that they could perform at the keyboard with or without a printed score. 

David Hall, author of There’s more to playing the piano… (now stocked by Waterstones) was recently described by the Sunday Times when they joined us on a Finchcocks piano course, as a “musical powerhouse”. You might have seen some of the videos he created for Finchcocks to help pianists during the UK’s first lockdown. His teaching style is packed full of creative ideas and encouraging – with a gentle with a twist of humour!

This is him in action at one of our Saturday evening recitals, put on for course guests in the main hall of Finchcocks. On this course, David will perform two of three some of the very most famous pieces in the piano repertoire with detailed theory analysis beforehand!

Although the focus of the weekend will be different to the usual performance-based courses we offer, David will keep workshops practical, engaging and interactive, bringing to life – and making accessible – subjects vital to improving musicality. Workshops will include:

Workshop 1 – Nuts and Bolts
Revision of basic harmony. Which scales fit with which chords. Introduction to counterpoint
Workshop 2 – Colourful chords
Expanding chord knowledge to include secondary dominants, diminished chords, sixths, sevenths and ninths.
Workshop 3 – Repertoire Analysis
Analysing repertoire helps us to understand the form and structure of the composition and the composer’s intentions. It helps us to perform the music better and helps us to memorise the music more quickly.
Workshop 4 – The Cycle of Fifths
Using the Cycle of Fifths to understand repertoire and to demystify improvisation.

During the course, guests are welcome to try out each of our nine grand pianos in the vaulted cellars – to help put into practice what has been discussed in the group sessions.

Guests will also:

  • Have the chance to take part in and observe four group harmony sessions.
  • Receive one-to-one input from tutor David during circulation in the free practice sessions.
  • 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.)
  • Enjoy a private recital for course guests on Saturday evening in the main hall of Finchcocks.
  • 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.

Horsmonden bathroom

For booking enquiries or to see if this course is suitable for you, please contact Jenny by filling in the form below or on 01580 428080.

Weekend courses

from £675 (inclusive of accommodation, food, wine and tuition)



    11 April 2025 @ 7:00 pm
    13 April 2025 @ 3:30 pm
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    Goudhurst, Kent TN17 1HH United Kingdom