Course Information

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.

Dates:  Saturday 13th to Saturday 20th July 2024

Venue: Cheltenham Ladies' College

Introduction from the course director

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.

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 contact us for more information.

David Jones

Head of Keyboard Studies at Cheltenham Ladies’ College


The core course faculty is returning in 2024:

  • Mengyang Pan (piano)

  • Tim Horton (piano)

  • David Jones (piano)

  • Katie Maughfling (yoga) with again lead the integrated wellbeing strand


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 as a refresher for those with more experience.


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

  • Resilience

  • The neuroscientific and psychological aspects of musical learning and performance


We would be delighted to welcome dedicated adult pianists, students and young professionals (currently we can only accept applications of those 18+).

The recommended level is intermediate / advanced. 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.

If playing the piano is a vital part of your personal wellbeing, this course is for you!


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.

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.


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.


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

What are the RESIDENTIAL options?

For those booking our residential package, all 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!

A non-residential package is also available.

Where does the course take place?

The Thinking Pianist is based at 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 Ladies' College,
Bayshill Road,
GL50 3EP

Transport links

  • 3 miles from M5 junction 11

  • 1 mile from Cheltenham Spa train station

  • 200 metres from Cheltenham Spa Bus & Coach Station

  • 51 miles from Birmingham Airport (approx. 1hr by car / 1hr 30 mins by train)

  • 52 miles from Bristol Airport (approx 1hr 10mins by car)

  • 95 miles to London Heathrow (approx. 1hr 50mins by car)

  • London Gatwick Airport 120 miles (approx. 2hrs 15mins by car)

How do I book?

Book by completing our online form and paying a deposit.

Residential: £1750 (Early bird of £1575 available until 31st January 2024)
Non-residential: £1200 (Early bird of £1080 available until 31st January 2024)

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, subject to availability.)