Our music courses have been running successfully for over 10 years and we are delighted that so many of our guests return each year (‘where else would we be in late October’ was the response from one couple who are coming for the fifth year running).
Music courses: typically, each day begins after breakfast, with warm-ups, tuning and playing together as a group. After a coffee break, more focused work is done on a variety of ensemble works.
After lunch on the terrace, the afternoons are spent working in small groups or on individual pieces with the tutor. Piano or harpsichord accompaniment is provided. Optional masterclasses enable students to present a piece they have worked on in an informal atmosphere and everyone can benefit from the coaching.
Lectures and workshops are held during the week on a variety of aspects such as: manufacturing and maintenance of instruments, ornamentation and other techniques, particular composers and national styles.
Being British we serve tea and cakes at teatime; but because we are in France, apéros on the terrace are served every evening at 6.30pm and there is always an extensive cheese board.
After dinner, there are either short concerts from the tutors or the opportunity for more playing or singing in small groups. Equally well, there is also plenty of time during the day for guests to do their own thing and go off for walks, cycle rides, visit the local towns or just relax on the terrace.
Although both tutors and students work extremely hard during the week the atmosphere is intended to be relaxed and encouraging. The tutors are less formal than they would be at music college and they have the time to include a great deal of informative detail about the instrument, composers and the social and political climate at the time the music was written.
Many students have emphasised the positive effects of this on their playing and for many it has meant raising their proficiency to a new level, finding other people with whom to play when they return home, trying out a different pitched or sized instrument and therefore increasing their repertoire or simply enjoying the buzz of playing a variety of styles and periods of music, in a large group.
At the end of the course the group and tutors give an informal public concert in a local church or in the Mill itself. Although participation is not obligatory, most students enjoy working towards a finished programme and feel that this is a fitting end to the week.