PianoKeys Festival offers a thought-provoking and friendly musical retreat for piano-lovers. Tucked away in idyllic surroundings, it is a weekend piano festival where intense music-making meets animated chatter and warm, relaxing hospitality.
PianoKeys courses offer amateur pianists a quality of teaching and insight given to aspiring professionals. The emphasis is on building confidence and sparking the imagination to bring out the best of your abilities.
Being based inside a working piano workshop is a unique feature of the PianoKeys . This feature allow PianoKeys Festival to integrate interactive sessions led by master-technician Joseph Taylor where we will have a look at how some different set-ups of the piano favour particular kinds of technique or repertoire, so you can evolve your own understanding of why you like things to be a certain way, and why you might sometimes struggle to feel at ease with a keyboard.
The ethos is simple: to stimulate your musicianship to become a journey of self-discovery and a rewarding outlet for your creativity.
The retreat takes two forms throughout the year:
'piano festivals': these expand the 'piano weekends' by starting earlier in the week with a concert, and intriguing open-door events that spotlight the often hidden skills and crafts behind piano life. Our aim in these is to bring the spirit of the piano retreat into the local community.
What to expect on a PianoKeys weekend?
Teaching is principally through a masterclass or open-lesson format, but it should be stressed that whilst it can initially seem daunting it is a deeply supportive experience.
Participants will see how enlightening it is to listen to others, and how easily they settle down and gain confidence when they feel the session becomes a playground of experiments and ideas. Time is also set aside for individual questions.
We do our best to make sure that the participants are matched in terms of where they are at technically on their individual piano journey.
What makes the Piano Keys Weekends so special is that the experience will be all the more personal and friendly given that the size of the group is limited to just four people.
On Friday, the evening of arrival, participants are invited to welcome drinks. Those unable to join on Friday are welcome to come straight up on Saturday morning.
Saturday revolves around:
Welcome tea/coffee before the opportunity for an individual morning practice session
Piano masterclasses guided by a common theme drawn from the repertoire presented. These run from 10.00am until lunchtime, with a break for tea and coffee, and continue after a specially prepared homemade lunch.
Afternoon of individual sessions. These are more relaxed in content as they are adapted specifically to your individual needs and interests. Depending on the preference and dynamics of the group these can be 'open' sessions, or as 'one-to-one' without the observation of fellow participants timetabled with simultaneous practice sessions.
An interactive session on keyboard set-up with Joseph Taylor. Over the upcoming season, the theme for the interactive piano open workshop is ‘feeling’. Joseph Taylor will look at some of the mechanisms that prompts us as pianists to talk about a keyboard being ‘even’, ‘heavy’, ‘light’. He will look at how the same keyboard can be adjusted, and give you a chance to feel what that adjustment has on your own response and playing.
Time for a leisurely walk in the rambling countryside, or just an opportunity to socialise takes us into dinner together at one of the charming Cotswold pubs.
Morning tea/coffee in advance of an individual morning practice session
A second chance to play in the piano masterclass
The chance to chat and relax over a hearty lunch at the local pub
Before finally sitting back for a concert demonstration and illustrated talk to soak up some ideas about a piece of repertoire.
Participants are warmly encouraged to play in a friendly informal closing concert if they would like. Some 'Piano Weekenders' have opted to have a relaxed session of piano duet or piano duo playing!
21-22 March (Mon/Tue)*
2-3 April (Sat/Sun)
4-5 June (Sat/Sun)
6-7 August (Sat/Sun)
20-21 August (Sat/Sun)
3-4 September (Sat/Sun)
* We are also looking to put in more dates for Mon/Tue in April, May June if there is interest. Please get in touch to let us know.
Thinking about booking?
Please do have a look at the
'If you have never taken part in a piano residential course before, the Piano Keys weekend course would be an excellent place to start.
Alternatively, if you have done several residential courses before, this will offer you something interesting and inspire you in a different way.
There are some lovely pianos to play on, or maybe that is an understatement. I have never played on a piano that is so good. It won’t matter if you make mistakes, it would be odd if you didn’t.' Alexandra
'I never expected a performance possible in such a space! I thought it quite wonderful - such power and intense emotion. I was thinking about it most of the way home.' Clive
'You make a splendid team and such passion for teaching. The Steinway D was magical opening up so many possibilities.' Jeremy
FAQ and information:
Repertoire and level:
Participants are free to bring whatever repertoire they like, but will get the most out of the opportunities if one piece is of a standard that allows them to play to the group. Most will be playing at upwards of ABRSM Grade 7/8 level, some working towards or already having their performance Diploma.
Location and Accessibility of Piano Keys:
We are based in West Oxfordshire, in Freeland. A regular fast direct train service from London Paddington will get you to Hanborough Station in around an hour. Whilst it is within walking distance from the venue we are more than happy to give you a lift between the stations, venues and where you are staying. Hanborough Station is also just 10 minutes away from Oxford Station.
If you are travelling by car you will easily reach us from the M40/A40. Please see Location for more details.
"Maria doesn't just play with passion, she also speaks vividly about the music with passion. Prepare to be beguiled!"
- BBC Radio 3
We are committed to doing our part to make the festival a place where everybody can feel safe.
Read our COVID-19 statement here.