Étude in A minor by Louise Farrenc

Louise Farrenc (1804 – 1875), pictured above, was a French Romantic composer. In her lifetime she enjoyed a considerable reputation, and whilst the majority of her compositions are for the piano, her chamber music is generally regarded as her finest work. She eventually opened a publishing house with her flautist husband Aristide Farrenc, and Éditions…

Positional Piano Playing

‘Positional piano playing’ is a term I use for a particularly helpful technique which allows students to locate and play note patterns with ease. At my most recent Finchcocks piano course (held at the end of last year), I applied this technique in one of my classes with several adult students, and to their amazement…

No Pain, No Gain?

How many times have you heard this phrase? A fair few, I would imagine. It may be true for some activities, perhaps those where grit and determination are necessary in order to achieve the desired outcome. But this phrase certainly does not apply to the activity of playing the piano. Yet, increasingly, pianists suffer from…

Simply Driven: 5 Virtuoso Pieces

We live in very difficult times and I sincerely hope you and your families are safe and well. The Coronavirus has certainly changed our world, perhaps forever. As musicians, we need to move with these changes, and, like many teachers, my lessons are now all online. This is not something I particularly enjoy because I…

Master classes with Valentina Lisitsa

Continuing with my aim to highlight master classes, championing the importance of the public or ‘class’ lesson, today’s post features Ukrainian pianist Valentina Lisitsa. Valentina enjoys a busy performing career since establishing her YouTube channel in 2007, and she has been hailed an internet ‘star’. She now has over 582,000 followers, and 226 million views….

Creating Even Passagework

The following article was recently published in Pianist magazine’s newsletter (you can subscribe, here), and I hope it might be a useful practice tool for all those who are planning a weekend of piano practice! Creating even passages, devoid of lumps, bumps, and rhythmic jerkiness, can be a demanding challenge. How can we practice fruitfully,…

Painless Piano Playing Part 3

Today’s article is the third, and final, in a series written for Piano Professional Magazine, the UK publication of EPTA (or the European Piano Teachers Assocation). This technique article was featured in their recent winter edition. It focuses on painless piano playing, a subject about which I am passionate! I hope you find it of…

Master classes with Olga Kern

In today’s post I’m continuing my quest to highlight master classes (or public lessons). YouTube is a wonderful resource for teachers and students; we can enjoy and learn from a variety of filmed videos online, all at our fingertips. Russian pianist Olga Kern was born in Moscow and studied at the renowned Central Music School…

10 Motivational Practice Tips

Last year I travelled to several different parts of the world giving workshops and classes. I invariably asked the owner of the studio (or shop), where my presentations took place, if there was a particular topic that teachers would like to discuss; ‘how to keep students motivated’ was the almost unanimous reply. It’s no mean…

5 Vital Daily Practice Reminders

Today’s post was recently published in a Pianist Magazine newsletter, and will hopefully provide a few basic, but important, practice reminders. We all benefit from reminders. Those elements which tend to be forgotten as we sit at the instrument, keen to get on with our job of practising. But sometimes it’s a good idea to…