Upcoming **NEW COURSE** Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven Sonatas and Variations with Sarah Beth Briggs

  •  May 9, 2025 - May 11, 2025
     6:30 pm - 4:00 pm

Sarah Beth Briggs


Level: Advanced
Fee: £350

Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven Sonatas and Variations

with Sarah Beth Briggs


We will spend the weekend working on some of the great keyboard literature from the classical period. My primary teaching aim is to enable each of you to develop your skill set allowing you to express your own musical personalities while always understanding that the composer’s wishes should be central to all musical performance. The score is always the starting point for all discussion (it’s too easy with access to huge numbers of recordings online to base interpretations on performances by others!)

Participants may like to bring a full sonata (if Mozart or Haydn or a short Beethoven sonata) a set of Variations and a movement from a sonata or perhaps contrasting mvts from different sonatas- no more than 20 mins in total.

My training has naturally informed the way that I teach and my two main teachers had very different styles.

Denis Matthews’ teaching was revelatory, with significant focus on music outside the piano repertoire. He helped me to understand that in order to be a fine pianist, one needed an appreciation and understanding of a whole variety of music from string quartets to opera. A deep stylistic awareness was at the heart of his teaching, particularly in baroque and classical repertoire, and we spent time working on immaculate phrasing (often facilitated by thinking in terms of vocal lines) achieving a vast range of different textures (frequently imitating orchestral instruments) and clarity of pedalling. Much of his teaching included fascinating cross referencing. Arrau pupil, Edith Fischer, brought different qualities: a real attention to beauty of sound and how to build chords from the bass; how to achieve a fine legato, paying special attention to the transfer of sound and weight from one note to another, and many other technical ‘tricks’ that have proved invaluable in my playing career. Much of my own teaching centres around these important points.

I am deeply committed to trying to uncover as much as possible about how the composer intended his/her music to be played, so prefer Urtexts as a starting point. (Editors adding phrase marks/dynamics etc which are often incorrect can prove very unhelpful). It is also important to think of the instruments for which the composers were writing in order to gain an understanding, for example, of when a composer was taking the instrument of the day to the limits of its powers; and also to get a contextualised sense that – for example – a forte in a score by Haydn or Mozart has a totally different weight from a forte in Brahms.

I am, however, unashamedly an advocate of the modern grand piano and the depth and variety of sound that can be produced from it, and so also of exploring, in appropriate repertoire, the subtleties of sound from the smallest pp to the weightiest ff and learning how best to use the body as well as the fingers to create these contrasts. All this is central both to my own playing and to my work with students.

I see myself as a ‘performer teacher’ who has learnt much of what I can valuably pass on by ‘doing’, and feel that aspiring performers can get a particular benefit from learning from teachers who are regularly performing themselves.

Most importantly, music making should be something enjoyable and even fun – I encourage people to laugh in my concerts (at appropriate moments) so I hope we’ll have many a giggle along the way!


A £70 deposit is required to secure your place on this course. The balance of fees, including accommodation, is due 3 weeks before the course start date.

Details Price Qty
Attendee - Deposit £70.00 (GBP)  


Venue Phone: 01373 812383

Jackdaws Music Education Trust, Great Elm, Frome, Somerset, BA11 3NY, United Kingdom


Course Information

Is this Course right for me?

The answer is probably yes as we welcome musicians of all abilities and backgrounds on our courses but if you would like to find out more before you book please do email or call our office manager Karolyn on 01373812383 / music@jackdaws.org and she will be able to offer further guidance.

Observer places may also be bookable subject to availability call/email the office for more information.

Please see our General Course Information pages for further details and schedule information.

Our Courses are for adult musicians (except where stated) and take place at Jackdaws in Great Elm, near Frome in Somerset. The Course Fee includes all tuition, meals and refreshments at Jackdaws. Courses take place in the main studio, with Steinway piano, and generally follow a masterclass format. There are several practice rooms here, too.


For Voice, Piano & Wind courses; participants are usually requested to prepare 2 – 3 pieces in advance. We will ask you to provide a repertoire list for the tutor (& accompanist) ahead of the course.

For Ensemble courses; direction will be given by the course leaders.


If you require B&B, we can arrange that for you; accommodation fees are payable in addition to the course fee.

Meals and Refreshments

Lunch, Supper and morning/afternoon refreshments will be prepared on site by our dedicated Cooks.  If you are vegetarian/vegan, or have a food allergy, you must let us know in advance, so that our cooks can plan the meals for the weekend accordingly. 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.

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