Latest Blog Posts

Play On – and Be Part of the Picture! Summer School for Pianists goes Virtual in 2020

It’s official – the Summer School for Pianists will be online in 2020!

Since early in March,  we at  the Summer School  have been exploring ways to deliver this year’s course  amidst the current pandemic. With concerns re hand hygiene on pianos, travel restrictions, social distancing, large gatherings cancelled, National Trust properties and schools closed, vulnerable people being advised to stay in and the financial implications of closed  businesses, there has been a lot to consider. In May last year we wrote to you with information about local accommodation in Buckingham and details of how to travel to Stowe, confident of our first visit to that wonderful venue. This year, the only certainty is uncertainty.

We are also delighted that, after contacting many course members  individually, we have had overwhelming support for a move to a digital platform for this year’s course. Here’s how we plan to do it.

Many of us have learnt over the past weeks how to video-conference using Skype and Zoom, and it is Zoom we will be using. For those of us who would appreciate a refresher course on Zoom, a series of 6 videos made by our tutors and Brian, and sent out to all course members between now and the course,  will demonstrate how to get the best out of Zoom for music. And in the first of them, here is Karl to introduce the course –


Bearing in mind that unknown future Public Health restrictions may still make demands on our time and space, Summer School classes will run at two fixed points each day from Saturday 15 August to Thursday 20th August: at 10 -11.30am and from 2-3.30 pm. You will be timetabled as usual for three slots during the week in a Zoom masterclass, to which you will be invited in an email from your tutor. If your connectivity is likely to be unreliable – and we all have those issues at times – you can pre-record your piece to be submitted to the tutor, who will play it during the class via a ‘shared screen’ and then comment. Come and go as you wish – and we will include the opportunity to observe different classes and tutors.


Each day you will receive an email from Brian giving you the link to both a tutor Recital and a tutor Piano Matters presentation, available exclusively to Summer School members via our private YouTube channel. The tutors and Brian have planned a fantastic feast of music by composers including Scarlatti, Haydn, Beethoven, Schubert/Liszt, Schumann, Chopin, Debussy, Scriabin, Ravel, Poulenc, Mompou … and many more.  include presentations about the Music of Ravel, Beethoven’s harmonic language, Graded Examinations, Chopin’s Fantaisie-Impromptu, and Practice Makes Perfect – or Does It? Click on the links at a time of your choosing to enjoy the recital and the presentation. There are opportunities for course membersto give a Platform Recital for a modest charge – pianists are welcome to pre-record/film their recitals, which we will circulate, and which can be enjoyed in the same way. For the Accompanists’ Class, Brian and Daniel Hill are planning ways to present the suggested repertoire.


Fancy a coffee? Join us for a virtual coffee at 11.30 each day, for a chat and a catch-up. And maybe we can meet for a drink later in the evening … We’re also thinking about moving last year’s hugely popular Quiz to an online format .


The climax of our week is the class members’ concerts. Again, we invite you to film or record your piece well in advance, perhaps on Soundcloud or on your phone (Ann Martin-Davis is preparing a video showing how to do that), submit it to Brian, and the recordings/videos will be circulated on Wednesday and Thursday of the week for us all to enjoy when we have the opportunity. On Friday we’ll meet for the 2021 briefing.


So what does it cost? Without having to cover Stowe’s charges for catering and accommodation, we are able to reduce our fees to a total of £250 per class member – that’s a balance of £70 on top of the deposit. For Observers, who may attend any class during the week without performing, and who will have access to the tutor recitals, the Accompanists’ Class, the Piano Matters presentations, the student concert items, the platforms and to all the social events online, there is no extra charge; the price remains at £180, the deposit.


The situation we all find ourselves in is not of our making, and not of our choosing. We long for the opportunity to be together again, but in the meantime, we have worked hard towards finding the best solution in the current circumstances. In Zoom experiments among the trustees, tutors and Brian, and with some of the course members, it has been heartening to hear each other playing the piano, and to see each other in our homes in the ‘gallery view’ on the screen.


We now invite all of you to play on – and to be a part of the picture.

With best wishes,

Christine and Karl


PS For an introduction to Zoom, there are many YouTube videos available.


Here’s a short, basic one –


And for a simple guide to Zoom music lessons from harpist/pianist Ann Crosby Gaudet –


Summer School 2020 – join us as we celebrate Beethoven 250

170px-Beethoven_3After a sell-out course in 2019, the Summer School for Pianists’ 2020 course promises another week of superlative music, with masterclasses, student concerts and tutor recitals, plus presentations on subjects as diverse as ‘Practice Makes Perfect – Or Does It? ‘  ‘Solving Problems in Chopin’s Fantaisie-Impromptu’ and ‘The Music of Maurice Ravel.’  To celebrate the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth, the 2020 theme is ‘Byways of Beethoven’;  participants are invited to choose repertoire from the lesser known works of Beethoven, such as those prefixed with WoO rather than those with opus numbers. And there’ll be a talk on Beethoven’s harmonic language – ‘The Lost Chord – and How to Find it. Beethoven’s Harmonic Clues.’

With good food, good company and the surrounding beauty of Stowe in gardens landscaped by Capability Brown, an amazing  week of musical inspiration awaits. Places are being snapped up, so don’t wait – scroll down for contact information and book your place now.

And if you’d like a taster of what is in store – hear five of our delegates talking about what makes the course so special …


Following the Royal Footsteps – Queen Victoria and Prince Albert visit Stowe

This year marks the bicentenaries of the births of Queen Victoria, a keen pianist, and of her husband Prince Albert, who together visited Stowe in 1845, staying for three days, Victoria practised Mendelssohn’s music on a ‘horizontal’  piano there – a grand.  The video below re-enacts their visit:



You too can follow her footsteps, practise the piano, and enjoy the beauties of this wonderful building and the grounds at Stowe.  There is currently one place left on our course – scroll down for details and book your place today!


Calling All Piano Teachers! Spend a day with us at Stowe – plus Brahms and Clara

Calling all piano teachers! We are offering you a non-residential visit to our fabulous Summer School at Stowe School in Buckinghamshire for a day on Tuesday August 13 or Wednesday August 14 when you can attend up to six hours of masterclasses with any of our five tutors, a recital, and, on Wednesday, a Piano Matters presentation with tutor Graham Fitch; ‘Brahms and Clara – a Love Story’ –  an exploration of the friendship between Johannes Brahms and Clara Schumann.

The cost for the day is just £45 plus VAT, including lunch, dinner and refreshments. Tuesday’s recital will be given by Ann Martin-Davis and baritone Brian White, performing repertoire by Ravel for solo piano and for voice and piano, while Wednesday’s recital will be given by James Lisney, performing works by Schubert, Haydn, Beethoven and Chopin. Watch them giving masterclasses on both days, along with tutors Graham Fitch, Karl Lutchmayer and Christine Stevenson.

Places are limited, so don’t delay – contact our administrator, providing information of where you teach and requesting an application form  to secure your place on , or telephone 07828 925609.

Those applying for a place must be at least 18 years of age.


2019 Recitals Announced

We’re pleased to announce the 2019 season of Summer School Recitals given by our tutors from 11-14 August in the Ugland Auditorium at Stowe School, all at 7.45pm.

Karl Lutchmayer begins on Sunday 11 August, playing Medtner’s Sonata Reminiscenza, Busoni’s Elegies and Schulz-Evler’s Arabesques on the Beautiful Blue Danube.

On Monday 12 August Christine Stevenson will be performing Beethoven’s ‘Moonlight’ Sonata Op 27 no 2, Bagatelle op 126 No 3 and his 32 Variations on a Theme in C Minor, as well as Liszt’s Au lac de Wallenstadt, Il Penseroso, Les jeux d’eaux  à la Villa d’Este and Funérailles.

Ann Martin-Davis and baritone Brian White will be exploring this year’s ‘folk’ theme in songs by Ravel drawn from Cinq Mélodies Populaires Grecques, Chants Populaires, Mélodie Hébraïque and Don Quichotte à Dulcinée on Tuesday August 13th.

And in the same concert, Ann will be playing solo pieces by Ravel, including extracts from Le Tombeau de Couperin, A la manière  de Chabrier and A la manière de Borodin.

James Lisney concludes the season with Schubert’s Impromptu in C minor D 899,  Haydn’s Sonata in C Hoboken XVI 50, Beethoven’s Sonata in E Op 109 and Frederyk Chopin’s Nocturnes Op 62 on Wednesday August 14th.


Not to be missed!  Check back here soon for booking details.

UPDATE - tickets will be available on the door (cash only, please) at £10, £8 concession, and free for accompanied children. When arriving at Stowe School, postcode MK18 5EH, you’ll reach the security cabin at the far end of the school drive, where you’ll be directed to parking places. The Ugland Auditorium is in the Music School; ask for directions from security staff. Further transport details are listed here.

For further information or to book in advance – scroll down to the foot of the page for telephone contact numbers, the email link, or use the contact form.