Chetham’s Piano Teachers’ Course: 2020 Chetham’s International Summer School and Festival for Pianists

I’m delighted to be a faculty member at the 2020 Chetham’s International Summer School and Festival. This world-famous Summer school has been running for over 20 years, and is the largest of its kind. Offering an inspirational array of courses, individual lessons, lectures, presentations, and recitals, the Summer School boasts an impressive faculty of renowned pianists and pedagogues hailing from around the world. Over 500 students attend Chetham’s Summer School every year.

The Chetham’s International Summer school and Festival is held during August at Chetham’s school in the centre of Manchester (UK), and for the past few years, it has featured a special course specifically designed for piano teachers; the Chetham’s Piano Teachers’ Course. I will be directing this course at the 2020 Summer school. This is a very exciting prospect for me, and, in this post, I’d like to highlight the course content and the wonderful presenters and lecturers who will be joining me for an engaging week of classes and presentations.

The Summer school runs from August 8th – August 26th 2020. Week one (August 8th – 13th) features the new Junior Academy,  week two (August 14th – 20th), is the first week of the traditional student and adult course, and week three (August 20th – 26th), the final week.

The Chetham’s Piano Teachers’ Course is held in the final week of the Summer School, and will contain five and a half days of presentations, classes, and lectures, starting each day at 9.00am and finishing at 4.20pm (ending at 11.30am on the sixth day), after which teachers are free to enjoy the evening recitals – and there are many exciting performances and events during the week.

I’ll be giving the majority of classes, and we will cover all major topics necessary for those intending to teach the piano (and those who already teach will find this course beneficial, too). I will be presenting four substantial piano technique workshops, all with plenty of teacher participation, as well as memorisation, sight-reading, pedalling, and quick study classes. Teachers will be encouraged to keep a ‘teaching journal’, noting any questions or queries alongside their observations, which will subsequently be addressed in a Pedagogic Pathways session at the end of every day. These sessions will discuss subjects such as piano exams and their various technical requirements, keyboard harmony, beginners and method books, and elementary, intermediate and advanced repertoire, as well as the adult returner student.

Stoller Hall at Chetham’s School of Music

Every day there will be an opportunity to observe teaching sessions; teachers will be able to watch different piano lessons given by various faculty members. And at the end of the course, each teacher will have the chance to coach a student, receiving helpful feedback.

Keynote presentations will be given by a select group of world-class musicians and pedagogues; William Westney (the American pedagogue and author of The Perfect Wrong Note), who will speak about disparate approaches to teaching; Joanna McGregor (British concert pianist and head of keyboard at the Royal Academy of Music) will focus on Contemporary piano music; Paul Harris (clarinettist, composer, educator and author) will speak about Simultaneous Learning and will give a session on Aural techniques; Philip Fowke (British concert pianist and pedagogue) will lecture on piano fingering solutions. David Horne (composer and head of composition at the Royal Northern College of Music) also gives a practical session on implementing composition into piano lessons.

Murray McLachlan (head of keyboard at Chetham’s School of Music, Chair of EPTA UK, and piano professor at the Royal Northern College of Music) will offer several sessions on historical periods and piano genres, and Penelope Roskell (author and piano professor at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance) will offer sessions on healthy piano playing. Les Chigwell (professor at Leeds College of Music, Manchester University, and a teacher at Chetham’s School of Music) will present a session on improvisation, and Sarah Murphy (teacher at Chetham’s School of Music and professor of academic studies at the Royal Northern College of Music) will offer a session on Music Theory, exploring methods of approaching and incorporating this topic into lessons.

I hope these wonderful tutors have whetted your appetite, and you’ll consider joining me for this action-packed week


Melanie Spanswick has written and published a wide range of courses, anthologies, examination syllabuses, and text books, including Play it again: PIANO (published by Schott Music). This best-selling graded, progressive piano course contains a large selection of repertoire featuring a huge array of styles and genres, with copious practice tips and suggestions for every piece.

For more information, please visit the publications page, here.


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