We’re very excited to have run our first weekend piano course which ended up being entirely sold out.
The course was run by our Musical Director, Dave Hall, who did an absolutely fabulous job of engaging and inspiring our group of advanced intermediates.
Dave kicked off the weekend with a workshop session – “All about the notes”. Dave rightly pointed out that we all want to play the notes more accurately more of the time, so he demonstrated some interesting techniques for improving accuracy and fluency of playing. He also touched on practice techniques, to make sure that precious time spent practicing is as fruitful as possible.
Dave’s next session was a masterclass focusing on our own repertoire – looking at how to interpret our pieces – whether they were songs, dances or stories – and what that means in terms of dynamics, articulation and expression of the notes within.
This was followed by a very entertaining duet session. Playing with a partner did wonders for overcoming our nervousness of playing in front of others.
We spent most of the afternoon trying to put into practice the techniques and concepts discussed in our group sessions. We got the chance to rotate around the practice rooms in the cellar and pick a piano that suited our repertoire. By chance, nearly all of us had chosen Romantic composers, so the Bluthner and the Yamaha C3 were popular choices, though the gentle tones of the Broadwood were more forgiving of bloopers than the exacting Grotrian Steinweg.
Emma, who joined us on the course having got to decent standard at school, but not having played since said, “Dave’s recital on Saturday evening was definitely one of the highlights of the weekend for me. I especially enjoyed the music theory about the circle of fifths, which was very insightful and a great way to memorise scales. A great balance was struck between free time to play and practice and workshops and learning, and I came away from the weekend feeling inspired to dust off my old sheet music!”
After a fairly lively three course dinner on Saturday night, which involved scallops, venison and pavlova, the breakfast that followed the next morning was leisurely.
We kicked off Sunday with a double piano workshop, with one person playing one piano and another trying to play the same melody back (without seeing what the other person was doing). Dave then did a great practical session on harmony and chord progressions, leaving us some time in the afternoon to polish our pieces before the final performance of the weekend.
Our group ranged in ability from roughly grade 4 to grade 8, but everyone had lapsed since school and we (me included!) were all a bit rusty. By the end, everyone was buzzing with musical inspiration, and Rebecca said: “I’d rate the course somewhere between excellent and life changing! I haven’t been near a piano for years, and it’s definitely inspired me to get back on it – to the point of asking for an electric piano for Christmas!”
Please click here for details of future piano courses.