As we wave goodbye to January (how is it possible already!?), my blog celebrates its fourth Birthday! Mulling over the past four years, I can’t help observing just how much my life has changed; this website has given me the opportunity to meet many interesting pianists, teachers, composers, publishers, and writers. It has expanded and shaped my life in ways I could have never imagined, for which I’m extremely grateful.
January brings a crop of varied piano resources from sheet music and books, to online products and courses. I hope there will be something to interest everyone.
Beginners and Elementary:
Music Me Piano Practice Time Notebook
These notebooks have been designed by Roberta Wolff and are a fun and useful addition to piano lessons; they are suitable for young learners everywhere. Music Me Piano Practice Time notebook features an all-in-one style practice page with keyboards, manuscript, cycle of fifths and up to six different practice activities per week for your student to explore. The pages are interactive, involving your student as well as supporting their practice. For a free trial pack and to place your order, click here.
Piano for Fun Series
A new series, published by Elena Cobb (EVC Music publications), which features four books written by four composers; Heather Hammond, Olly Wedgwood, Alison Mathews, and myself. Heather Hammond is a renowned educational composer, and has already published several piano books with EVC Music publications. Piano Olé!, brings a Spanish flavour to ten bright, tuneful compositions, which lie comfortably under the hands and are intended for early intermediate players. Olly Wedgwood (son of renowned educational composer Pamela Wedgwood), has written Piano Plan B! This volume of ten pieces and certainly lives up to its title, exuding joy, fun and plenty of jazzy tunes, which are intended for late beginners (some pieces are published, but the whole volume will be available later this week). Composer and pianist Alison Mathews’ Piano Planets, feature a collection of ten pieces, which are current and vibrant, and they are written for late beginners. My volume, Piano Waves, which will be available very soon, consists of six Minimalist style melodious pieces, inspired by my many piano adventures at sea, and suitable for intermediate players. There is currently a 50% discount sale on all music published by EVC Music publications, just quote this code when purchasing: BDAYGIRL!
You can hear some of the pieces from Piano For Fun Series and meet the composers at the Music Expo Educational Event in London next month, where we will be presenting an informal showcase. You can find out much more about the music, here.
Composer’s Choice: Glenda Austin
An interesting, innovative series published by the Willis Company, featuring various Contemporary composers. This book introduces eight pieces by American composer, arranger and pianist, Glenda Austin. The collection includes six of Glenda’s favourite pieces through the years, as well as two brand new ones composed especially for this series. Titles: Betcha-Can Boogie • Jivin’ Around • The Plucky Penguin • Rolling Clouds • Shadow Tag • Southpaw Swing • Sunset Over the Sea • Tarantella (Spider at Midnight). The volume contains helpful performance notes too, and I enjoyed reading through each piece, which will introduce students to a variety of modern, Contemporary styles. Educational music at its best! Purchase your copy here.
5 Pieces for 5 Left Hands at One Piano
British composer, Mike Cornick‘s latest addition to this popular series for numerous players at one piano, published by Universal Edition, is for 5 left hands. This is, by all accounts, a fairly unusual combination! However, I’ve used this series on many occasions when running my sight-reading courses and students really do enjoy playing these volumes. Entertaining for the audience and fun to perform, each piece encourages pianists to listen, interact with each other, and above all, become accustomed to ensemble playing. A second copy of the score is included for easy reading in performance and free downloads of the single parts are available to make practising at home possible. Intended for those between Grades 2 – 5 level (early Intermediate), you can find out lots more here.
Virtuoso Transcriptions Piano Transcription Series
Published by Schott Music, this is an excellent collection of favourite works, all arranged for piano, and, as the title suggests, in a virtuoso manner. For those who enjoy a good romp around the keyboard, there are many works from which to choose, from musicologically significant transcriptions to interesting modern arrangements. I particularly like Paganini Jazz and Alla Turka Jazz, both written by Fazil Say (you can hear the former played by the composer/arranger here), but there are also works arranged and transcribed by Franz Liszt, Glenn Gould, Olli Mustonen, Marc-André Hamelin, Percy Grainger, amongst others. There is definitely something for everyone in this series which celebrates the piano in all its glory! You can find out much more here.
So You Want To Learn To Improvise? and So You Want To Play The Piano?
This series has been written by Andrew Higgins and myself, and published by Alfred Music. Andrew’s book focuses on developing improvisation technique; there are plenty of written instructions and explanations throughout, to guide students. Much information is proffered, and those who digest this book thoroughly will surely be on the way to honing excellent improvisational skills. My book is intended for prospective students and beginners everywhere; those who want to know the best ways to begin learning to play. It may also be useful for anyone considering becoming a piano teacher. There is a myriad of information; from which instrument, teacher, and piano method is suitable, to piano technique, piano exams and information on piano music and composers. So You Want To Learn To Improvise? can be purchased here, and So You Want To Play The Piano?, here.
Easy Ear Training
Easy Ear Training is a music education technology company, who are developing digital products like mobile apps and audio-enhanced eBooks to make learning the essential listening skills of music easy, fun and effective. Easy Ear Training offers many different apps for musicians and aspiring musicians of all different levels and abilities, encouraging them to develop an increasingly sophisticated ear. You can browse their courses, and digital products here.
This course is held at Moreton Hall School in Shropshire, UK and is organised by Artistic Director Samantha Ward. Piano Week is an international piano festival and Summer school for pianists of all ages and abilities. Consisting of many recitals, master classes, talks, discussions, one-to-one lessons, and performance opportunities for all participants. Course dates are 17th – 24th July: Piano Week 1, and 24th – 31st July: Piano Week 2. Stephen Kovacevich will be giving the celebrity recital, and there is a host of pianists and teachers providing coaching (the faculty changes slightly over the two-week course). For more details visit the website, here.
Pianist, composer and Royal College of Music professor, Julian Jacobson, is taking a Summer course in Austria this year. The substantial new summer course and festival is devoted entirely to Beethoven, and is dedicated to the solo piano sonatas. Course dates are August 5th to August 22nd (2016), eighteen full days, with excellent facilities, copious recitals by participants and artists in residence, open sessions and excursions. There are also various awards for students including further concert opportunities. It’s taking place in the most glorious countryside in the Salzkammergut region of Austria. Each full participant brings three complete sonatas and receives six lessons; part courses are also possible. This will no doubt be a wonderful experience, and to learn more click here.
For much more information about how to practice piano repertoire, take a look at my two-book piano course, Play it again: PIANO (Schott). Covering a huge array of styles and genres, 49 progressive pieces from approximately Grade 1 – 8 level are featured, with at least two pages of practice tips for every piece. A convenient and beneficial course for students of any age, with or without a teacher, and it can also be used alongside piano examination syllabuses too.
You can find out more about my other piano publications and compositions here.