Introduction from the Course Director
DATES: SATURDAY 13TH TO SATURDAY 20TH JULY 2024
Following the outstanding success of the previous three years, we are delighted to be launching The Thinking Pianist 2024. We are now accepting applications from prospective students.
The concept of this immersive 7-day course is to offer a rich variety of activities focussing on different aspects of playing, studying, teaching and thinking about the piano, integrated with parallel well-being coaching in Yoga, Tai-Chi, Alexander Technique and the Feldenkrais Method. Coupling this with high-quality pianos, marvellous food, beautiful Victorian Gothic surroundings and the Cotswolds on the doorstep made for a truly memorable experience for all who attended in previous years.
Previous courses have been equally rewarding for Faculty and students alike, and this special quality of shared experience is a defining feature of the course. Among many other things, it is a valuable opportunity for the productive exchange of ideas, and a realisation that an open mind and a spirit of enquiry leads to us all learning from each other, whether teacher or pupil. Hear from our previous students here.
Faculty: The core course faculty is returning in 2024: Mengyang Pan, Tim Horton and myself (piano) with Katie Maughfling (yoga) leading the integrated wellbeing strand.
The full faculty for 2024 can be found here.
As well as the core course activities (which include plenty of opportunities to practise, perform and rehearse duet & 2-piano repertoire), we are continuing with the following successful innovations from previous courses:
- The “Teaching is Learning” strand of seminars and workshops will offer insight into the multiple synergies of these two activities: trying to teach any skill is a guaranteed method of improving it!
- Open Rehearsals – the opportunity for students to observe, and in some cases participate in, professional rehearsals of ensemble repertoire
On launching the course we will initially be recruiting full-time attendees who feel able to commit to the whole 7-day experience. However, we will be offering part-time places later in the booking process should there be space remaining. Please get in touch if you would like to register your interest in attending the course part-time, whether residential or non-residential.
Please see the detailed information below for more specifics. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to use the contact form or telephone me directly.
Phone: +(44) 1242 520 691 ex 5000
Head of Keyboard Studies, Cheltenham Ladies’ College.
Cheltenham Ladies’ College was founded in 1853, and has been in its current location since 1873, the site of the original Cheltenham Spa. The buildings house nearly 120 pianos: flagship Steinway and Fazioli concert grands in two large venues, Steinway and Yamaha grands in three further medium-size venues and a piano in each of the 30+ rooms in the Music Department.
One of the most influential Principals at Cheltenham Ladies’ College, Dorothea Beale, believed that education involved the whole person, and that beautiful surroundings improved not only moral development, but the quality of the educational experience. In reflection of these ideas, The Thinking Pianist will not only encourage your piano skills amidst our atmospheric buildings, but also offers a genuinely holistic approach, with time dedicated to wellbeing practices throughout the duration of the course.
WHAT WILL WE COVER IN THE COURSE?
Core course activities will include;
- Lessons, masterclasses and workshops with distinguished Faculty, joined by visiting specialists who will deliver other classes and concerts.
- Opportunities to rehearse and perform ensembles, i.e. duet, 2 pianos, (3+ hands!)
- Course concerts with the opportunity to perform to like-minded fellow pianists!
- The “Teaching is Learning” strand of seminars and workshops offers insight into the multiple synergies of these two activities: trying to teach any skill is a guaranteed method of improving it!
- Fundamentals of Piano Pedagogy offers an optional, parallel mini-course on the basics of teaching. This can be used as a starting point for early-career piano teachers or a refresher for those with more experience.
WHAT SHOULD I EXPECT TO GAIN FROM THE COURSE?
Participants will be encouraged to practise both the art and craft of piano-playing. Joining a community of like-minded pianists, your musical and pianistic experience will be heightened through the productive exchange of ideas with others.
At The Thinking Pianist we encourage holistic learning. Submerse yourself in nourishing your mind & body, through wellbeing practices such as Yoga, Tai Chi, Alexander Technique and the Feldenkrais Method. Seminars will also be presented focussing on key topics such as.
- Performance anxiety
- Reducing excess tension
- Developing effective and efficient practice
- The neuroscientific and psychological aspects of musical learning and performance
HOW LONG IS THE COURSE?
You’ll be taking part in a 7-day course running from Saturday to Saturday. There will be the option to participate in an end-of-course concert on the final day.
DO YOU OFFER PART TIME PLACES?
Initially we are recruiting full-time attendees , but it is likely that part-time places will be offered at a later stage. Please get in touch to register your interest in attending part-time.
WHAT LEVEL IS REQUIRED TO ATTEND THE THINKING PIANIST?
Recommended Level – Intermediate/Advanced.
Currently we can only accept applications of those 18+.
It is not our intention to exclude based on standard achieved, but we think you will get the most out of the course if your playing is at least Grade 6 level.
We would be delighted to welcome dedicated adult pianists, students and young professionals.
If playing the piano is a vital part of your personal well-being, this course is for you!
WILL PREPARATION BE REQUIRED?
There is no requirement to prepare specific repertoire, but you should bring two or more pieces which you are currently working on, to study with your teacher in lessons and/or classes.
This is optional for pedagogy students but would be very welcome.
HOW WILL THE COURSE BE TAUGHT?
- Teaching will occur as a combination of individual lessons with Faculty staff (see Faculty section), group classes/workshops. See next point for other course activities.
- Pedagogy students will have a separate strand of lectures on some days of the course
Accommodation will be in one of the Cheltenham Ladies' College boarding houses. Bedrooms are all single-occupancy with shared bathroom facilities.
Our in-house catering team will provide three meals a day within your residential house. Let us know if you have any specific dietary requirements or allergies at least 2 weeks prior to your arrival. The food was one of the talking points of previous courses!
Full-time students (7 nights)
A 10% deposit will be required to confirm your booking on the course. The balance will be due one month before the start of the course.
(Part-time places will be offered later in the booking process)
Cheltenham Ladies’ College is situated in the heart of Cheltenham, a spa town on the edge of the Cotswolds. You’ll be a short walk away from high-quality restaurants, shops and transport links in the town centre.
Cheltenham Spa train station 1.1 miles.
Cheltenham Spa Bus & Coach Station 0.2 miles.
Bristol Airport 50 miles.
Birmingham Airport 51 miles
London Gatwick Airport 120 miles (2 hrs approx.)
Cheltenham Ladies' College,
To book onto the course, please fill out the information on the online form, or contact us via: Venuesandevents@cheltladiescollege.org