On Saturday 22nd May, S. Anselm’s pianists were treated to a wonderful masterclass with Ben Andrew, renowned concert pianist, composer and Head of Keyboard at Stowe School.  From Pre-Prep to College, Grade 1 to Grade 8, each of our pianists individually enjoyed Ben’s expert guidance, tips and encouragement within three classes that took place throughout the morning.

Ben coached each of the children in valuable performance skills, appreciating the importance of taking time at the piano to get into the right frame for mind for their piece, before starting.  He shared many invaluable practice tips and encouraged the children to have fun in their practice, isolating tricky sections, listening carefully and getting them better and better or trying to further complicate a section with different rhythms, so that when returning to play it normally, it feels easy.  He asked a number of our performers to think more orchestrally about their pieces, deciding which instrument they could imagine playing the melody and different harmonies.

It was fabulous to hear Ben himself demonstrate different sections of the children’s pieces and explain how to tighten up rhythms or find the correct note to highlight to achieve just the right mood, greater contrast or drama.  What better preparation for the forthcoming ABRSM examinations in June?!

Of course, everyone was asked to bow gracefully when applauded by their fellow masterclass participants.  Some felt a little self-conscious – others were much more flamboyant – but it is an important habit to become comfortable with.

For our most senior pianists, Olivia, Josh and James, this was possibly the last time they will play for us in the Hargreaves Hall before moving on to their Senior Schools or Sixth Form College – where we have no doubt they will continue to excel in their playing.  You can watch and listen to James’ performance here.

Our many thanks to Ben for giving up his Saturday to spend time with our children and share his talent and experience.  We do hope to see him again soon!

Congratulations also to our many talented young pianists.


Scroll down to see our masterclass photo gallery