The Piano Teacher’s Survival Guide: Weekend competition!

Continuing with my recent focus on Faber Music’s Piano Month, pianist, teacher and ABRSM examiner Anthony Williams has contributed the following interesting guest post about the perils and pleasures of piano teaching, in relation to his new book. The Piano Teacher’s Survival Guide (published by Faber Music). This generous volume contains so much useful information for piano teachers everywhere.

Anthony’s post is entitled, A Journey for Survival, and it first appeared in the Faber Music Piano Catalogue. I have one copy of this book to give away, and If you would like to win please leave your comment in the comment box at the end of the post. I will pick a winner on Sunday night, British time (do check my blog on Sunday evening to see if you’ve been selected). Good Luck!

I remember vivdly, and with some embarrassment, giving my first piano lessons to young piano pupils in North London. As a young concert pianist I had no previous experience in piano teaching but parents who had heard me play thought that this gave me the expertise and understanding to teach their son or daughter. I loved teaching but it was a huge responsibility and I fear I bluffed my way through, always acutely aware of my fallibility and failings. Despite my best efforts to find out more about teaching at this level I found it very hard to glean much advice from colleagues or to find any books which gave me the fundamental knowledge or appropriate musical strategies that

I needed to teach young pupils.

In an effort to find out more, I made the development of a free and relaxed technique the focus of my Master’s degree and, whilst continuing a performing career, devoted myself to piano teaching and to developing my own expertise and understanding. I explored, researched and analysed recordings and videos of my own teaching to discover what worked and, of course, what didn’t, and I consulted with more experienced teachers. Eventually I found myself talking to and discussing teaching in seminars and became a mentor and tutor on a number of Professional Development Courses. As a result I have had the privilege of sitting in on hundreds of piano lessons given by other teachers, naturally embracing some of their fabulous ideas to use in my own teaching and hopefully offering some of my own in return.

More recent presenting work and masterclasses over a number of years have given me the opportunity to explore areas of teaching in even greater depth, to share ideas in more detail and to pass these on to other teachers, both in the UK and internationally. It wasn’t long before I had a huge resource of material on all areas of piano performance, piano teaching and piano technique and I found myself being contacted regularly by piano teachers asking for help on specific areas of their teaching. Keen to do this, I also promised numerous times that I would eventually put all my thoughts and pooled knowledge in one place and the idea (though not the title) of The Piano Teacher’s Survival Guide came to mind, and for some time was an ambition close to my heart. A sabbatical and some much-needed encouragement from Faber Music finally encouraged me to put in the work and the book became a reality.

It’s not a ‘how to teach’ book, it’s a book of ideas, thoughts and fundamental principles, and yet I wanted it to be more than just a sharing of information about piano technique and performance. In my early years my inexperience as a teacher meant I often neglected the musical imagination and creativity that inspires pupils to put in hard work and practice. I now strongly believe in putting communication, a love of the beauty of sound and an understanding of the physical relationship with the piano at the heart of teaching to nurture a truly instinctive and musical performer. Combine this with a relaxed, balanced and instinctive (rather than drilled) physical approach to the piano and you allow the natural personality of the performer to emerge. This philosophy became the overwhelming context of the book and linked all the threads together.

The Piano Teacher’s Survival Guide is a comprehensive and practical guide providing essential advice for all piano teachers. Aiming to improve and develop confidence in teaching skills and piano technique, the book focuses on the best ways to support pupils and develop their love of the piano. Featuring many case studies, musical examples and problem-solving clinics, this is a rich resource of basic principles, useful tools and thought-provoking ideas.


Melanie Spanswick has written and published a wide range of courses, anthologies, examination syllabuses, and text books, including Play it again: PIANO (published by Schott Music). This best-selling graded, progressive piano course contains a large selection of repertoire featuring a huge array of styles and genres, with copious practice tips and suggestions for every piece.

For more information, please visit the publications page, here.

11 Comments Add yours

  1. Lauren says:

    I’m keen to look at this book to help improve and develop confidence in my teaching skills and piano technique – great tools indeed!

  2. rosannalam says:

    Seems like a really insightful book to read! I’d love to expand on my current pedagogical tools by learning from the experience of others.

  3. Elaine Ding says:

    I also feel that there is a need to teach musical creativity and would love to hear your ideas on this!

  4. Elaine Ding says:

    I also feel that there is a need to teach musical creativity and would love to hear your ideas on this!

  5. Julie Reeman says:

    I can’t wait to see this book. I’ve been greatly inspired by Anthony Williams in workshops and love his imaginative yet practical approach to teaching pieces with gentle humour, beautiful playing and passion for lovely music and sounds. I’m sure there will be much to inspire in this book.

  6. Louise Harris says:

    I don’t often comment, but I very much enjoy your blog, Melanie.

    1. Thank you Louise – much appreciated 🙂

  7. Karen says:

    I would love to read it as I’m thinking of giving up doing the exams for a piano teacher after missing out by 6 marks on my G5 theory and feeling overwhelmed with the rest of the exams to do and trying to teach my 2 pupils too. I like and appreciate your professional technique advice on your site.

  8. Liz says:

    I’ve actually had this recommended to me by Amazon and was thinking of buying it the other day! I’m doing the PTC course so would be fab as another book to get 🙂

  9. Lori says:

    Sounds like a very interesting and useful book. I’m always looking for ideas that will actually be something I will put to use.

  10. Many thanks to all those who took part in this competition which is now closed. 🙂

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