Piano Workshop

August 7–14, 2021

Workshop Overview

Hands-on training for musicians.

Calling pianists to our NEW course: a dynamic piano workshop! Focusing on classical piano repertoire as a foundation for arranging, composition, and improvisation, this week-long workshop will take your piano skills to a new level of creativity and confidence.

Together, we’ll analyze the music of the masters—Bach, Mozart, Chopin, Rachmaninov, and others—and explore the musical tools they used to build their masterpieces.


August 7, 2021

August 14, 2021


International ALERT Academy Campus

1 Academy Blvd.
Big Sandy TX, 75755

View Venue Website






Course Topics

We’ll learn techniques on how to:

  • Analyze classical repertoire
  • Listen critically to music in general, and your playing in particular
  • Overcome technical difficulties in your music
  • Study the basics of hymn improvisation, and get tips for playing by ear, improvising on hymns, accompanying congregational singing, navigating modulations, and more.

Workshop projects include:

  • Preparing multiple arrangements in specific classical styles
  • Collaborating with classmates on piano practice and written assignments
  • Writing a short essay on a piano arranging topic of your choice
  • Presenting your arrangements in concert at the end of class



Who Can Enroll?

The course is designed for music students ages 15 and upward. Younger students may attend with older siblings or accompanied by a parent, and older students are welcome to attend, as well.

What is the recommended skill level for students?

  • 2+ years of study on the piano
  • Ability to comfortably read a hymn written in four parts
  • Basic knowledge of music theory, including understanding key signatures, primary chords, and basic musical notation
  • Ability to play 2-4 octave major and minor scales with up to three sharps/flats
  • Attending Sound Foundations before this workshop is not required but it is strongly recommended

Instructors and Coaches

Learn More

Frequently Asked Questions

Where does the course take place?

The course takes place on the campus of the International ALERT Academy in Big Sandy, Texas, which is about two hours east of Dallas. The spacious campus with dormitories, classrooms, practice rooms, and multiple auditoriums provides the perfect setting for this course.

Is Instrumental Workshop run by a particular church or denomination?

Family Conferences is a non-denominational evangelical Christian ministry, governed by a board of directors and is not run by any particular church or denomination.

Is there much personal time to practice on my instrument?

Yes! Since the goal of this course is to build your technical and interpretative skills on your instrument as much as we can in one week, expect lots of practicing every day!  Also expect some friendly competition as students log their times on their own charts… there just might be a prize for the best practice log at the end of the course!

How will I be getting coaching?

Each day, you will work in a small group setting (2-4 students) for 1-1 ½ hours, with a coach. Together, you will work on things that help you as a musician improve on your instrument. Your partner students will take notes for you, and you will take notes from them. If you are placed in an ensemble, you may sometimes work in a larger group, and the focus will be on how you can improve as an ensemble for a performance.

Can I play in an orchestra at the Instrumental Workshop?

Possibly, yes! After every instructor has enjoyed their first lesson with their students, the instructors will meet together and make a selection of repertoire that the majority of the group will be able to play. If you’re ready for the ensemble, you’re in! If the instructors feel that you need more practice this year, you have the option to continue working in small groups until your skill level is ready for the larger group.

What will vocalists do at the workshop?

Just like the other instrumentalists, vocalists will work with personal and group coaches, refining their technique and working to learn music that they too, can share in a presentation for the students and faculty.

How does the course conclude?

As a finale to our six-day musical intensive, we’ll join forces as a class to present a final concert to our fellow students, instructors, and guests. While this will not be as formal of a concert as Sound Foundations, family and friends are welcome to attend, so that they can join you in celebrating this week of learning and practice.

What’s the dress code?

We encourage you to lead the way in the classroom by wearing clothing that is traditional, classic, and professional, inviting your peers to take you and your skills seriously. As we focus on equipping students for excellence, our choice of clothing can drive us towards, or distract us from that goal. 

  • Classroom: Business/Professional – classically styled skirts/dresses for girls, slacks/collared shirts for guys
  • Performances: Dress/Formal (Solid black – long dresses for girls, suits for guys, black shoes)
  • Recreation: Casual (keep it modest-fitting: nothing stretchy, clingy, or revealing)

For more details on the dress code, check out the Orientation Manual.

What should I bring and how can I prepare?

In addition to your instrument, some study items, and clothing that adheres to the course guidelines, we’ve compiled a full packing list for you. Please check it out in our Orientation Manual.

Can family members stay on campus before or after the course?

Yes! For details on room and meal reservations, please see our Pricing 

Can family members visit during the course?

While we welcome family visits, due to the intense class schedule, students need to communicate these visits with their team leaders or the course coordinators. Families are welcome to come, and stay on campus if they’d like, however, how much visiting time is actually available is subject to the class schedule.

For the cost of meals and lodging for visiting family members, please see our Pricing

What is the setup for meals during the week?

All meals, including a continental breakfast, and full lunch and dinner are served in the campus dining hall. Our dining hall features a full cafeteria line, so there are always plenty of options. Please let us know about any dietary restrictions on your application, or within one month of the course start date, so we can plan appropriately.

For the cost of meals for visiting family members, please see our Pricing

What about meals on weekends?

The weekend meal schedule is as follows: 

  • Saturday, Brunch @ 10:30am, and Dinner @ 4:30pm
  • Sunday, Bag lunch (Pick up at Sat. Dinner) Dinner @ 4:30pm

Prior to the weekends, snacks and drinks will be available for purchase in the campus bookstore, or you can bring your own.

For the cost of meals for visiting family members, please see our Pricing

What can I do during my free time?

The Family Conference venue has many areas for recreation, including a track, disc golf course, basketball and volleyball courts, walking areas, and more. Scheduled volleyball games on the weekend are a highlight for many students!

Is this course accredited?

While the majority of the material in this course is equivalent to college 100–400 level courses, and students receive a certificate of completion, there is no accreditation granted for this specific course. In the past, many individual students have used experience from this class to compile portfolios which are recognized by their school, or used the skills they garnered here to test their way out of college courses.

What is the class size?

Class size is limited to 100 students.

Can I receive mail during the Instrumental Workshop?

Yes! Letters and packages can be sent to (Students’ name), C/O Instrumental Workshop, One Academy Blvd, Big Sandy, TX, 75755

Travel Details

Arrival & Departure

For Those Driving

Please arrive at the International ALERT Academy (One Academy Blvd, Big Sandy, TX, 75755) by 3:30pm on Saturday, August 7th. Dinner is provided in the dining room from 4:30-5:00pm, and registration and orientation will take place in the dining room from 5:30-7:00pm. If you are interested in organizing a carpool from your area, let us know so we can connect you with other students.

Flight Arrivals

For flights into Dallas Fort Worth (DFW) or Dallas Love Field (DAL), plan to arrive before 2:30pm on Saturday, August 7th. 

For flights into Tyler Pounds Regional Airport (TYR), or East Texas Regional Airport in Longview (GGG), arrive before 3:00pm on Saturday, August 7th.


Flight Departures

For DFW or DAL, plan to depart after 12:30pm on Saturday, August 14th.

For TYR or GGG, plan to depart any time after 8:00am on Saturday, August 14th.

International ALERT Academy Campus

1 Academy Blvd.
Big Sandy TX, 75755

View Venue Website


Get a $75 discount per additional student from the same family!



Early Bird Pricing

Sign up before July 26!

Individual Registration $750 — $625
Additional Sibling Registration $675 — $550


Tuition includes:

  • Daily lessons with your personal coach
  • Daily rehearsals with your ensemble coach
  • 15+ structured practice hours on-site
  • All core classroom materials (please note that some instructors may recommend the purchase of supplementary materials)
  • One week of lodging and meals


Registration closes August 1, 2021.