I’m really looking forward to leading the Piano Teachers’ Course at the renowned Chetham’s International Piano Summer School in 2021. My course was initially programmed to take place in August 2020, but, due to the pandemic, we decided to run it this year instead.
Chetham’s Summer school is hosted every year at Chetham’s School of Music in Manchester, UK, and it’s the largest specialist music school in the country. Positioned in the centre of this vibrant city, Chetham’s was originally established as a charity school in 1653, and it became a co-educational, specialist music school in 1969; over the last 51 years, it has established itself as a central part of music education in the UK.
The Summer school was founded in 2001 and is held every year during August. There are so many enticing options available for participants that it’s hard to know where to begin! A Junior Academy takes place from 7th-8th and 13th-16th August, which offers a myriad of course options from musical analysis, sight-reading and composition to a young artist course. The traditional Summer school for over 18s and adults is run over a two-week period; week one takes place from 16th – 21st August, and week two, from the 22nd – 26th August 2021. Each week consists of a different faculty and a whole host of courses.
The faculty at Chetham’s Summer School is probably the most impressive in the world, and comprises of over 60 internationally celebrated pianists, teachers and composers. And a particularly wonderful aspect about this Summer school is that anyone can apply. All ages are catered for, so whether you are an adult amateur, a piano teacher, a beginner, or a budding professional, there will be a course to interest you. You can also attend as an observer, too.
A new addition for 2021 is the option to take classes either onsite or online – perfect for those who cannot attend or are based in other parts of the world. All faculty recitals will be streamed as well. With seven recital halls, 100 practice rooms, and with on-site accommodation and meals all provided, Chetham’s Piano Summer School has proved time and time again to be an outstanding course for all those who love the piano.
My Piano Teachers’ Course will be held during the second week of the Summer school, and will consist of four and a half days of classes and workshops. This course is open to anyone, but will be of interest to either those who already teach the piano, or are considering piano teaching.
During the course, I will be giving four substantial workshops focusing on piano technique – an aspect I feel is extremely important for all piano teachers. These workshops will last two-hours each and will involve full teacher participation. When I was studying the piano, a crucial part of my journey towards teaching was to effectively assimilate and understand technical issues, especially those relating to tension and release, and flexible body movement. It’s challenging to teach these aspects to students, therefore, it’s vital for us all to work at the piano for a large proportion of these classes, discussing and learning how to teach our students so that they are able to play free from tension or pain.
I will also be giving classes on sight-reading, memorisation, fingering and pedalling – and, again, there will be much teacher participation; sight-reading can feel like a chore, but it’s so much more fun when others are involved, hence there will be plenty of duets and trios during our class. Teachers will be given handout notes for the majority of my workshops.
There will be four classes focusing on repertoire and what musical and technical foundations are expected at elementary, intermediate and advanced levels, and we will also discuss beginner’s methods and the first term at the instrument. A class on micro-managing our student’s practice will hopefully uncover a different, and swifter, approach to piano practice, and at the end of each day, there will be a Q&A, centred around each teacher’s experience during observation classes; every day, teachers will enjoy an hour with various Summer school faculty members, observing their lessons. Other subjects to be included are piano exams, composition, rhythm games, and online verses face-to-face teaching.
A highlight will be a seminar given by renowned educator Paul Harris, who will take us on a journey through his award-winning Simultaneous Learning programme. The final morning will herald an opportunity for every teacher to teach a student in front of the class, with a chance for helpful feedback and discussion afterwards. I hope it will be an enriching, rewarding, and enjoyable experience for all course members. And for those who can’t attend in person, classes will be ‘live-streamed’ and they will also be recorded.
Aside from the course, you are free to soak-up the Chetham’s atmosphere, meet new (or old) piano friends, and attend the many superb concerts on offer given by the faculty.
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.