Rhinegold Piano Sanctuary retreats will be held at Suffolk’s beautiful medieval Leiston Abbey

Owen Mortimer

British pianist unveils new piano community for adult learners

1:12, 22nd June 2020

British pianist Andrew Quartermain has launched a new piano and lifestyle initiative aimed at adult learners and piano music lovers. Dubbed Piano Sanctuary, Quartermain says ‘it will be so much more than a piano course. It will be a retreat. It will be about people. It will be about a great social time. It will be about great food and wine. And above all it will be about friendships. The piano will be the common factor that binds all of these threads together.’

Quartermain is the CEO of the leading music education charity Pro Corda in Suffolk, UK. His ideas for Piano Sanctuary have been developed through many years of performing and teaching, meaning that he understands ‘what adult learners actually want, as well as ways to fast-track learning via creative work’.

Andrew Quartermain
Andrew Quartermain says Piano Sanctuary ‘will truly be a music course with a difference’

Piano Sanctuary will feature weekly podcasts (soundcloud.com/liveattheabbey) plus online courses. These include Piano Sanctuary Adventure (which fast-tracks learning via the powers of improvisation) and a Starter course for beginners or those who learnt as children but who have been put off re-starting the piano.

Improvisation plays a key role in Quartermain’s approach because ‘it ticks every single teaching box’, he explains. ‘Pulse, phrasing, understanding of structure, harmonic language, textural and sonority awareness, confidence in performing, technical advancement, memory and also performing technique in general – if you are making up your own music you are developing ways to make a performance sound completely fresh. Plus, for adult learners, improvisation provides a fast-track method to exploring new sounds, possibilities and general sense of excitement at the keyboard.’

Another special initiative Quartermain has developed during the COVID-19 lockdown is a regular Spa session – an offshoot of the weekly podcasts, featuring 20 minutes of non-stop soothing piano music. ‘I’ve received great feedback from listeners,’ says Quartermain. ‘People use it for early evening wind-downs, as well as during stressful and worrying times to get them into sleep mode.’

Once the lockdown lifts, Piano Sanctuary will begin hosting retreats at Suffolk’s beautiful medieval Leiston Abbey and neighbouring Abbey House. ‘Our first retreat takes place from 3-5 July, with many more planned throughout the year,’ says Quartermain. ‘While the virus persists we will ensure complete safety by ensuring very low numbers each weekend. Leiston Abbey also gives us all the space needed for safe, distanced teaching. Each participant will have their own piano and the site will be run like a hotel, including wonderful food prepared and served in very safe ways.’

Quartermain promises that Piano Sanctuary ‘will truly be a music course with a difference’. Meanwhile, the weekly podcasts and regular Spa sessions are free to stream for all those who can’t yet attend a retreat in person.

To book call +44 (0)1728 831354 or visit procorda.com/piano-sanctuary

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