Featured by Magazine in their Top 10 courses and festivals around the world!
“For an amateur pianist La Balie is heaven on earth. Hugely enjoyable and rewarding teaching, a wonderful Steinway concert grand to play on, the delightful company and shared enthusiasm of fellow pianists, the beauty and peaceful setting of La Balie itself, and gorgeous food (and wine!). It really made leaving at the end of the week very difficult” – Richard P
Our summer piano courses are designed for advanced amateur pianists, piano teachers and professional pianists and focus on the in-depth study of prepared pieces. With a maximum of eight pianists on each course the emphasis is on personal attention and exceptional teaching. The courses are designed to be intensive and to equip each guest with a meaningful set of skills with which to return home. They are also designed to be fun and to provide ample time for both practice and relaxation!
With three Masterclasses, two individual lessons and recital opportunities for each guest; everyone is scheduled to play on each day of the course. Guests usually choose three pieces to study in their master class sessions with additional pieces selected to perform in the evenings and at the end of course concert.
As a guide we ask for a Grade 8 or above for our piano courses but we are open to rusty, returning pianists as well!
A typical day
The day starts with breakfast at 8.30 followed by Masterclasses at 9.30. There are four, 45-minute masterclasses each morning with a break for coffee at 11.00. Lunch is at 1.00pm and is eaten alfresco in the shade of the cedars. Afternoons are spent practicing, taking an individual lesson or relaxing by the pool.
At the end of each day we gather in the studio for a glass of wine, canapes and an “Aperitif concert”. These concerts are given by the course guests and are a wonderful performance opportunity. Supper is held after the concerts and is often followed by some relaxed “after-dinner/just-for-fun playing”. Occasionally on very hot days, multiple guests have been found stargazing in the pool at midnight! The middle evening of the week is reserved for multi-hand/piano playing and is the focus of some frenzied practice and much laughter! On the last night of the course we hold an informal concert at which we encourage each guest to play.
In addition to the informal guest recitals, each tutor will play two formal recitals during the week. The tutor concerts are open to the public and include a late night candlelit recital. Please visit our Summer Concerts page for more information.
Performance and Practice Pianos
We have six pianos available at La Balie including a magnificent Steinway D in the Studio (for Master Classes, lessons and recitals), a Yamaha C1 in the main house and 3 further practice pianos, one in each cottage. Practice times are scheduled (but not obligatory!) ensuring every guest has sufficient access to our pianos. With two beautiful Grand pianos in the Studio we encourage duo playing pianists!
“You might forgive yourself for thinking you have woken up in paradise on your first morning at La Balie”
Graham Sheffield, 2019
Our Tutors – 2021
The summer piano courses for 2021 will be led by an exceptional trio of tutors. We are delighted to welcome Charles Owen, Ian Jones, and Martin Cousin to La Balie for three weeks of intensive and inspirational teaching.
Course Dates – 2021
June 15th – 22nd, 2021 IAN JONES
July 10th – 17th, 2021 MARTIN COUSIN
August 22nd – 29th, 2021 MARTIN COUSIN
September 1st – 8th, 2021 CHARLES OWEN
We pride ourselves on serving delicious, interesting and healthy meals. Breakfasts are continental in style with homemade muesli and granola, freshly baked croissants and local breads, fruit and yogurt. Lunches are served as a buffet and include a range of colourful, seasonal and locally sourced produce. Supper is a three course meal and includes a fabulous cheeseboard followed by dessert. A selection of wines from our local vineyards is served with dinner.
La Balie is a collection of beautiful 16th Century farm buildings three of which have been converted into light and airy cottages containing a total of eight charming bedrooms each with their own luxury bathroom. Each of the cottages has its own sitting room, fully equipped kitchen, satellite TV and WiFi and access to a beautiful, heated, saltwater swimming pool set within a formal garden with open views over the rolling countryside.
Click here for more photos and information about each cottage
Travelling to La Balie
La Balie is in the Lot-et-Garonne, 50km south east of Bergerac. There are several ways to travel to La Balie – by air, train or car.
Bergerac is our closest airport with Toulouse and Bordeaux within reasonable reach.
Ryan Air, Jet 2 and British Airways all fly from the UK to Bergerac. There is a wider selection of carriers flying into Bordeaux and Toulouse.
For those of you who prefer to take the train, there is a TGV direct from Paris to Agen which takes 3.5 hours and from where you can either hire a car or connect onto a local train to Monsempron-Libos which is the closest train station to La Balie.
La Balie is located on the D162 aproximately 50km South East of Bergerac in the Lot-et-Garonne – please see our Contact page for a map of our location
“Feeling inspired after a great La Balie week” – Eleanor G.
Please go to How to Book for more information and to apply for a place
About Charles Owen
Click for Charles’ website
About Ian Jones
Click for information on Ian
About Martin Cousin
Click for Martin’s website