Frequently Asked Questions – your speedy guide

What piano teaching experience do I need to have had before I enrol?

You need to be teaching at least two pupils – who are not family members – prior to and for the duration of the course.
However, the more experience you have as a teacher the more you will understand what you want and need from the course, and the more easily you will be able to relate to the course ideas and material.

NB: If you have yet to pass your Grade 8, one of the PTC Tutors may be able to help you with pre-course preparation. Just contact the Administrator via the contact page for further advice.

I already have many years of piano teaching experience
… and/or I have a Music Degree
… and/or I have a Piano Teaching Diploma
So what’s in the course for me?

The course is designed and structured so that every student can engage at their own level and focus on their own particular teaching, their performing interests and their needs. Each student is assigned a tutor to help ensure they are guided toward fulfilling their individual aims.

As on-going professional development continues to be a necessary and recommended feature of our modern lives, the PTC caters for piano teachers of every level of experience. All course students benefit from the chance to catch up with the latest thinking, reflect on their processes, refresh their skills and fill their teaching with more fun! 

I took my Grade 8 many years ago – is my playing good enough?

Probably. The course is carefully designed to build up your skills and confidence through performing simple duets and trios, then solos of Grades 1-3 in standard, and only in the final third of the course are you required to prepare and perform one piece of Grade 6-8 in standard.

That said, we encourage course students, especially those in your position, to take individual piano lessons with a teacher who can help them develop both their playing and their teaching. If necessary before commencing the courre…

What qualifications or conditions do I need before I enrol?

To hold at least Grade 8 piano and Grade 5 theory (or non-UK equivalent)
To be at least 18 years of age in the October that the course begins
Have a minimum of two current pupils when you start the course
Have proficient Word processing skills, access to email and the internet, and a willingness to embrace new IT skills
Be committed to attend all 15 course days at Purcell if at all possible…

Does PTC favour any examining board for Grade 8 piano?

No. We accept Grade 8 piano from any Board.

What do I need to know before I enrol?

Nothing specific. Just a desire to teach and play the piano as well as you can.
You will be given pre-course reading and some work to prepare, to help you tune-in to the course ideas before the first weekend.

Can Overseas students enrol?

Yes they can. They will need exactly the same minimum requirements as UK students, or a non-UK equivalent to Grade 8 piano – and have good spoken & written English. They must be available for ALL course dates, and must hold a valid passport & UK visa. PTC does not get involved in passport or visa applications.

How much written work is involved to complete the assignments?

The assignments require a total of 10,000 written words. For more details, please go to our assignments page on: Course Assignments

I haven’t written an essay for a long time – is there any help given?

Yes. You are helped and supported at every stage through group sessions, tutor groups and individual tutorials.

How many hours work ought I to put toward my assignments?

This varies hugely from student to student – see below – and depends on personal time available and personal drive for perfection.

Here are 4 responses to that question from people who gained a Distinction:

  • Not sure exactly, but on average I’d say about 12-15 hours, longer for the case study.
  • I would say approximately 15-20 hours per assignment.
  • 40-50 hours for each assignment: 5 hours reading/playing/researching a week for 6 weeks, and 10+ hours writing each one. It was much more work than I thought it was going to be. But then I enjoyed it and wanted to do as much as I could. 
  • I tend to fill whatever time/energy I have available (!) so it varied, but I remember spending about 5 hours a day for a couple of weeks on one of them, with shorter sessions before that. Then more focus and longer days (and nights) when coming up to the due date! That’s including reading and making notes. So a lot of hours – but I had a lot of excess information and words (10,000+ for the essay first draft! which I then had to edit down).

Can I take the course without doing the assignments?

Yes. You can enjoy the course without having to take the written assignments. You will still need to attend a minimum of 75% of the course days, and perform a Grade 6-8 piece on the final day. For which you will receive the Certificate of Professional Development. 

Can I qualify for the EPTA bursary?

EPTA has a comprehensive application form for The Mark Ray Memorial Fund. It will enable you to show your need for support funding to assist you to take the course. Funds however are limited, the number of annual applicants and the sum available being taken into account when allocating the Bursaries. Priority is given to EPTA members, but applications are welcome from anyone. 

Application forms are available from The Administrator EPTA UK at: or to download here:-

        The closing date for Bursary applications is in June each year.

Is there any other funding?

Not specific to The PTC, but contact the Administrator who may know of some alternatives . You can also ask at your local library for local funding for higher education in your County or Borough.

Do I have to pay all at once?

Not if you don’t want to. We operate an instalment plan to suit your cash flow. We will however require a non-refundable deposit of £550 with your PTC application, to secure your place. 

Who recognises the Cert PTC?

The PTC UK is the leading course for piano teachers in the UK, and is widely recognised and respected across the music profession by  professional bodies (e.g. EPTA UK (The European Piano Teachers Association) the ISM (Incorporated Society of Musicians), ESTA (European String Teachers’ Association), EGTA (European Guitar Teachers’ Association) and by the Music Colleges, Academies and Examination Boards.

The PTC UK has close relationships in particular with the ABRSM and Trinity

In this way the Cert PTC carries a great deal of professional credibility, so potential employers, e.g. Directors of Music in Schools, and the parents of pupils can feel secure in the knowledge that teachers with Cert PTC after their names have been exposed to the latest, leading edge professional development available for piano teachers in the UK.    

 I am hoping to gain a Piano Teachers’ Diploma. Will taking the course help?

The Piano Teachers’ Course UK provides excellent preparation for all Piano Teaching Diplomas including those from the Associated Board, Trinity Guildhall and London College.

In addition to being exposed to the latest in piano teaching pedagogy, you will be able to adapt and adjust your PTC assignments to suit the demands of your chosen Diploma, and you will be able to seek help and advice from your personal tutor and the course director.

What are the professional benefits of The Cert PTC?

Recognition from the major Conservatoires and music industry organisations

The Cert PTC  written assignments are now accepted as a substitute for the entire Written Submisson required for the Teaching DipABRSM. This applies to all Cert PTC and PTC CME graduates from PTC 2013-14 onwards.

You also become part of a highly motivated network of professional piano teachers. 

What about the professional benefits of The PTC Certificate of Professional Development?

The PTC Certificate of Professional Develpment does not entitle students to full professional membership of EPTA, but it carries weight and credibility as part of a continuing professional portfolio. On-going professional development – CPD – for music teachers is now highly recommend by all professional bodies. Teachers who may not have the time, or wish to complete the assignments required for the full Cert PTC, will derive a great deal of professional inspiration and refreshment from simply attending the course. 

I teach on a Thursday and Friday, and don’t want to disappoint my pupils. Can I still do the course?

There are just 2 course weekends that start on a Thursday, with arrival from 12 noon for a prompt 2pm start. They are usually dated to coincide with half-terms.
You can miss 25% of the course and still gain the Cert PTC.
However, it is not recommended – as you will miss valuable course ideas and experience.

I have a dietary problem. Can you cater for me?

Yes. The Chef is used to catering for vegetarians and vegans, and those with different dietary conditions – such as coeliacs, lactose intolerance and other food allergies.

I’m physically disabled. Can I do the course?

Yes. There are ramps and lifts throughout Purcell School for those with mobility issues and for wheelchair users, and one bedroom with disabled facilities.

I live locally – can I sleep at home during residential weekends?

Technically, yes. But there is no reduction in fee.
The day starts early, at 8.45am (breakfast is at 8am) and finishes at 9pm – with the Music Centre remaining open for private practise until 10.30pm, so we would recommend you be fully residential.


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