Playing by Ear for Pleasure and Technique
with Stephen Marquiss
Friday 18 – Sunday 20 October 2019
Stuck with the score? Seeking fresh strategies for fluent playing - maybe even from memory? Stephen pioneers a fresh, holistic approach to piano playing, teaching others to play fluently and expressively, overcome obstacles and release excess tension.
Explore playing by ear for pleasure, memorising and technique. Even with the score as your starting-point, an increasingly aural approach can yield huge rewards.
This course constitutes true aural training in practice – discovering or rediscovering the value of the ears in piano playing in practical, meaningful contexts.
Many of the great pianists have or had perfect pitch. Their fluent, expressive coordination is driven by their clear aural ‘imprint’ of the music in their mind’s ear. Stephen will offer tools for developing an excellent sense of relative pitch that can reap untold benefits for technique.
We’ll leap straight in on Friday evening exploring the engaging, joyful practice of learning simple, good quality piano pieces purely by ear. We’ll embrace a range of practical tools for internalising and then playing simple music assuredly and expressively.
On Saturday, we’ll explore a range of possible daily activities that can run in parallel to your regular piano practice for cultivating aural skills and enhancing your playing. These will include sol-fa and other singing and rhythm activities (as well as an accomplished pianist, Stephen is a trainer for the Kodály-influenced Jolly Music).
The main aim is to cultivate an optimal context for fluent, expressive, aural-driven technique to flourish, as quickly as easy as possible. This could be simple improvisation, playing simple blues, folk, pop or spirituals, very simple classical music and appropriate exercises. We’ll explore as many of these as time and participants’ indicated interests allow.
On Sunday, we’ll look at how these burgeoning skills can be juxtaposed with and applied to more complex repertoire by exploring a piece of each participant’s choice. The aim is to strengthen and prioritise one’s aural connection with the music to facilitate direct, assured coordination in playing.
Please bring one short piece, movement or section of repertoire that you find difficult in some way and wish to play more fluently and expressively along with a mind open to fresh ways of exploring it! This will be used as an example for applying tools from the course when you’re back at home. The main part of the course will comprise activities for the whole group and individual participation on a quick rotation.
For all pianists; a working knowledge of scales and intervals is useful as a starting point.
All courses are held at Jackdaws in Great Elm, a small village to the west of Frome in Somerset, approximately 14 miles south of Bath. Frome Train station is just 3 miles from Jackdaws with direct trains from Bristol, Bath, Cardiff and London.
A £50 deposit is required to secure your place on this course.
The Course Fee is inclusive of all meals, refreshments and tuition at Jackdaws, except Breakfast which is included in the separate B&B fee.
The balance payments for fees are due 3 weeks before the course start date, as indicated on your deposit receipt. Balance payments can be made in the following ways;
- By card, phone 01373 812383
- By cheque
- By bank transfer (BACS info sent out on request)
Accommodation Fees are payable in addition to the Course Fee. Jackdaws will take care of booking your accommodation; B&B rooms will be allocated a few weeks before the course starts, and we will send you details of where you are staying. B&B rates start at £40 per night (single room, shared bathroom) and from £50 (en suite, subject to availability) including booking fee.
B&B accommodation is arranged with local hosts, who are happy to welcome Jackdaws course participants, and includes a continental breakfast. Several are within walking distance of Jackdaws in Great Elm, and in neighbouring villages just a short drive away (5 – 10 minutes). Alternatively, we can arrange accommodation in local inns and guest houses (with a cooked breakfast available) please call us to discuss your requirements.
If you are vegetarian/vegan or have any food allergies please let us know in plenty of time, so that our cooks can plan the meals for the weekend accordingly. All meals and refreshments (except breakfast) are prepared and served at Jackdaws by our dedicated cooks, Loo and Alex. We are ‘allergy aware’, but we rely on participants letting us know if they have specific food allergies. Please also let us know if you carry any emergency medication.
During the weekend, communal lunch and dinner will be served at the table, allowing you to converse with your fellow participants and tutors.