I would if I could: Should I book on a course?

I would if I could: Should I book on a course?

A common theme when booking on a course for the first time at Finchcocks, and indeed when guests arrive, is pre-course nerves. As adults, many of us feel the need to hide nerves or are embarrassed to have them! Here’s some encouragement to take that step and book on.

Everyone is nervous

There hasn’t been a single person on any of our piano courses who hasn’t been nervous.

As adults, we’re not really used to doing things less than perfectly. Children have no qualms about making mistakes in front of others, but adults do, and that’s what makes us nervous.

But signing up for a course is the first step to conquering those nerves.

Am I good enough?

Attending a course is entirely for your benefit and we try hard to make sure you are in a group with players of a similar level – see below. If however you’re unsure which level is appropriate for your experience and playing level, feel free to email us or send us a message on the form below to check. It’s important you don’t feel overwhelmed but that you are also challenged enough.

Am I the right level for this course?

The outline below provides a rough guide to the playing standard of each course. Some people won’t have studied for graded exams or may have passed a certain grade 20 years ago and not touched the keyboard since. Some players will be “borderline”. If you’re unsure, just ask!


  • Might have been playing for around 6 months
  • Has begun learning to read music (or knows it from another instrument or singing)
  • May be having regular lessons or is self-taught
  • Might have got a few grades under their belt on another instrument, or got to grade 1 or 2 on the piano many years ago
  • Generally grades 0-2 level

Lower Intermediate:

  • Grades 2-4 level
    • suitable for people at grade 2 or 3 level who are playing regularly and having lessons
    • or for someone who achieved grade 4 (or even grade 5) standard as a youngster and who is returning to the piano after a gap of perhaps a few decades
  • Perhaps learned as a child, took a break and wants to dust off their skills.


  • Grades 4-7
  • Might have passed grades 5 or 6 as a child, and not played much since
  • Equally suited to people at grade 4 or 5 standard who are playing regularly

Upper Intermediate:

  • Grades 6-8
  • Guests on our upper intermediate courses are normally playing regularly, and often having weekly lessons.
  • They often read the pianist magazine!
  • Many won’t feel too confident playing in front of a group, but will normally be able to play a few intermediate pieces to a reasonably high standard.


  • Grade 8+, diploma and beyond
  • Dedicated, experienced amateur
  • Professional player and/ or piano teacher

I’ve never performed, or rarely perform to others. Can I do it?

Performance is a skill in its own right, yet we expect to be able to play as well in front of an audience as when we play by ourselves. It doesn’t always work like that! Most guests (and even professional performers) get nervous playing to others. Confidence increases with frequency of performance. It also helps to remember that everyone in the group is willing you to do well!

Writer, D. Antoinette Foy: “Step into this experience with butterflies in your bones; with a nervous feeling so beautiful, you know you’re doing something right.”

Survival instructor & adventurer, Bear Grylls: “[Nerves are] there to make you do your job well, keep you on your toes, make your senses fire and keep you honest.”

Shallow focus photography of three butterflies by Andrea Reiman on Unsplash

Going on the course is out of my comfort zone. I want to give it a go but am worried I will have to perform. Is everything compulsory?

Nothing is compulsory. We strongly recommend jumping in and playing as much and as soon as possible. Our tutors do a brilliant job of making sure everyone is included – so playing a few notes of an exercise is a good way to start – no music or preparation required!

Have I left it “too late”?

One of my favourite sayings is the Chinese proverb: “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” Life sometimes gets in the way of the things we’d like to prioritise. Plant that tree today and grow your playing!