Play it again: PIANO Book 3 follows on from Book 1 and 2 in my series; each book has its own character and unique collection of pieces, but this one is my favourite!
As a recap, Play it again: PIANO Book 1 and 2 were both published in 2017. Play it again is a progressive and graded piano course, published by Schott Music, intended for those who are returning to piano playing after a break. However, this course has also proved popular for students wanting to explore different repertoire between exam grades too. You can find out more about Book 1, here, and Book 2, here.
The course moves happily alongside the U.K. examination board system. Book 1 takes students from Grade 1 – 4 and Book 2, from approximately Grade 5 – 8 level. Book 1 features 28 mostly original pieces taken from standard, as well as more unusual, repertoire, and Book 2 contains 21 pieces. Each ‘level’ consists of a group of pieces focusing on different aspects of technique and musicianship. For many, particularly those learning alone, the most important facet are the copious practice notes and suggestions which accompany every piece. Piano teachers who fancy an anthology of pieces to work through with their pupils may like to explore this course, too.
Play it again: PIANO Book 3
Book 3 will take students on from where Book 2 left off; approximately Grade 8 level through to Associate Diploma level. The new book is much larger than Book 1 and 2 (at 156 pages), and the practice notes which accompany each piece are, as may be expected, far more extensive.
What you can expect to find in Book 3
Book 3 consists of 11 piano pieces, the majority of which are drawn from standard repertoire, with emphasis on pedagogical works and those suitable for exams. Similar to Book 1 and 2, there is a ‘technique’ section at the beginning of Book 3, with practical exercises and suggestions; these are especially helpful for those with tension issues. In the ‘technique’ section I have included hand flexibility exercises, information on the Bridge position, and exercises for developing finger agility (especially for the fourth and fifth fingers), as well as thumb exercises. The Warm-Up exercises at the end of the book focus on ways of developing a more holistic approach to pre-practice preparation.
Each piece contains between 3 and 10 pages of practice ideas and tips, as well as many musical examples, diagrams and photographs. The layout is very similar to that of Book 1 and 2. As this is a progressive course, it’s possible to ‘return’ to a level to suit your current standard; some may want to start at the beginning of Book 3, whilst others may prefer to ‘drop in’ at a later stage.
Book 3 is divided into two parts:
1. Grade 8 – Post Grade 8 Diploma
2. Post Grade 8 Diploma – Associate Diploma
As Book 3 is a much more advanced level than that of Book 1 and 2, the repertoire is classical and the book is geared towards those who want, or are possibly considering, taking post Grade 8 exams. It’s possible to create a suitable post grade 8 diploma (ARSM/DipLCM) or Associate Diploma (DipABRSM, ATCL, ALCM) programme entirely from this book. The former section consists of six works, and the latter, five. Each section contains a concert study (in the same manner as Book 1 and 2), alongside a collection of standard, as well as lesser known, pieces.
I hope you like my selection! This choice was based on many factors: the need to include pieces which employ particular techniques, musicianship, and, most importantly, works which display the chosen composer’s overall style effectively, and it was imperative to represent many different styles of music. Each work had to be enjoyable to play, and, as with most commercial publications, some works simply had to be well-known. Other more practical aspects, such as overall programming of the book and the length of the piece, also came into play.
Book 3 Repertoire
Grade 8 – Post Grade 8 Diploma:
Domenico Scarlatti: Sonata in E major K. 215
Edvard Grieg: Wedding Day at Troldhaugen Op. 65 No. 6
Claude Debussy: La Puerta del Vino L. 223 No. 3
Alexander Scriabin: Prelude in B minor Op. 11 No. 6
Paul Hindemith: Interludium and Fuga Decima in D flat
Melanie Spanswick: Frenzy, Etude for Nimble Fingers
Post Grade 8 Diploma to Associate Diploma Level
Ludwig van Beethoven: Sonata in C minor ‘Pathetique’ Op 13
Johannes Brahms: Intermezzo in A major Op. 118 No. 2
Edward MacDowall: Wild Jagd from Virtuoso Etudes Op. 46 No. 3
Issac Albeniz: Asturias Leyenda Op. 47 No. 5
Sergei Rachmaninoff: Prelude in G sharp minor Op. 32 No. 12
I’ve included the scale and arpeggio of each key, where appropriate; or I have linked it to those already featured in Book 1 and 2. There are warm-up or pre-practice exercises, tailored to every piece. My aim was to highlight a myriad of practice ideas and different methods of breaking pieces down, hopefully re-assembling them with ease and with a greater understanding.
Each piece contains fingering, dynamic suggestions and (where necessary) some pedalling. Although you may choose to ignore this and add your own. All the information provided for every piece is transferable to an infinite number of piano works, therefore building solid practical methods for tackling different styles and genres. There are now seven videos online, on Schott’s Youtube channel, to accompany the series.
The pages are well laid out and are designed with ‘tip circles’ and ‘technique box-outs’, and I hope it’s an easy to use course, inspiring pianists to rekindle their love for the piano; see gallery above for an example of the page layouts.
Play it again: PIANO is now sold worldwide and many piano schools are using it as their course of choice for students. Schott Music and I launched Book 3 on April 4th 2019 at the Frankfurt Musikmesse in Germany.
You can purchase Book 3, watch my teaching videos, and find out more about the Play it again: PIANO series, by clicking here.
Alternatively, purchase from Amazon, here.
‘These books are well-presented and contain plenty of sound and helpful advice for restarters.’
Pianist Magazine (November 2017)
‘What I really like, and as a teacher am grateful for, are the practical and straightforward tips at the start of the books and then preceding each piece. This enables the pianist to be independent and steers the teacher in the right direction. Highly Recommended!‘
Music Teacher Magazine (November 2017)
‘The content is insightful and engaging for adults who are independent learners. Teachers could use this collection as a model for how to systematically guide learners to independently apply appropriate practice techniques. Spanswick’s approachable and methodical tone is appealing and emphasizes musicianship.’
The American Music Teacher Journal (April/May 2018)
‘I’m a massive fan of these books and use them with students. BRAVO Melanie Spanswick! The new one (Book 3) too is fantastic!’
Karen Marshall, leading UK music educationalist (June 2019)
‘These new method books will be particularly useful for some of my adult students.‘
The Collaborative Piano Blog (October 2019)
‘Taken as a whole, one might regard Spanswick trilogy as as a ‘fast track’ progressive course for those who have had past experiences of the piano but want to get back to it, but for whom time might be an issue. I can immediately think of dozens of adult amateurs who will welcome Book 3 – players who have reached a certain stage in their lives and want to return to the piano without pedantically segmenting their practice into separate areas of study for scales, exercises, repertoire and so on.
The strength of Spanswick’s approach is her ability to unify many of the different elements that must be mastered to play with authority. Book 3 begins with excellent concentrated tips on posture, flexibility and alignment. There are reassuringly specific photographs and non-intimidating exercises. Repertoire is diversely contrasted, but always attractive, and is presented with excellent historical background notes, helpful technical tips, and other useful practice suggestions. A superb resource: strongly recommended.’
International Piano Magazine (July 2019)
‘From retracing the earliest steps in learning, right through to preparation for a professional diploma, Play it Again: Piano furnishes the adult pianist with a wealth of insight, information and inspiration. It is a genuinely useful, groundbreaking and to the best of my knowledge unique course, certainly deserving of a place in every pianist and teacher’s library.
It is abundantly clear that a huge amount of thought, work and expertise has gone into each and every element of these superb books, and it’s all paid off handsomely: Play it Again: Piano is simply one of the most brilliantly conceived and stunningly produced sheet music publications of recent years.
Writing reviews can at times necessitate an element of speculation, but this inspiring series has already passed the ultimate test: my own adult students love and are truly inspired by the first two books; the arrival of the third is welcome news indeed! Outstanding.’
Pianodao.com blog (May 2019)
For much more information about how to practice piano repertoire, take a look at my piano course, Play it again: PIANO (published by Schott Music). Covering a huge array of styles and genres, the course features a large collection of progressive, graded piano repertoire from approximately Grade 1 to advanced diploma level, with copious 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.