A Christmas Friday Freebie!

As the festive season is nearly upon us, I’m offering a special Christmas gift for my readers. American teacher, composer and arranger Carol Matz is no stranger to my blog; I have previously featured several of her piano pieces and arrangements.

Carol’s new Interactive Piano Method® is a unique method for beginners (which takes pianists up to elementary level at present) that includes lesson books with corresponding online materials. Students can access the online activities (such as theory games, ear training, virtual flashcards, note spelling, etc.) on any computer or tablet, and get instant feedback on their answers. Teachers can even work with students in the lesson, checking in on their progress during the week.

Each level includes a Lesson Book, Online Activities, PDF Downloads (Performance Pieces, Activity Sheets, Sight-Reading, Technique), as well as MP3 teacher duet accompaniments. The Lesson Book is also provided as a downloadable PDF which can be printed and/or used on a tablet (such as an iPad, or Android tablet). Currently, levels 1A, 1B, 2A, and 2B are available.

As a special holiday giveaway for my readers, Carol is offering each one of you a free level of your choice. You may choose to receive either the US version or the recently released AUS/UK Edition.

Here’s a quick video featuring some of the online activities:


To claim your free level:

  1. First, click here.
  2. Add one “Digital-Only Package” of any level to your cart (retail value $18.95 USD).
  3. Apply the Coupon Code: MELANIEROCKS (that was Carol’s idea!)
  4. Proceed through checkout (your total will be $0.00).

Please note: this giveaway is open to those who have not yet obtained a free download from Carol.

This offer will be available for one week only (from today), and I hope it might inspire those who have yet to learn to play the piano (a new year’s resolution?). It may also be useful for teachers looking for a different approach in their teaching. Enjoy!

Carol Matz has composed and arranged over 300 published titles for piano students. An experienced piano teacher herself, Carol has presented numerous piano-teaching workshops throughout the United States, Canada, England, New Zealand, and Australia. She is well-known for her “Famous & Fun” series (Alfred).

My Publications:

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.



Selecting & Practising Piano Exam Repertoire: Trinity College London Grade 5

Continuing with my series surveying piano exam repertoire, today’s post examines Trinity College London Grade 5. A collection of diverse and well-chosen pieces, List A comprises composers such as Richard Jones, Anton Diabelli, Moritz Vogel and Dmitri Kabalevsky!

The exercises, of which each candidate must prepare three (played alongside scales and arpeggios), can help with various technical issues within the pieces, so with this in mind, it’s prudent to select (if possible) those with similar technical and musical elements. Here’s my suggested programme, which provides a smorgasbord of mediterranean flavoured delicacies, plus five tips for those working at the pieces.

  1. Capriccio in G by Domenico Scarlatti (1685 – 1757)

A lively, exacting work which will keep pianists on their toes. In G major (it may be helpful to refresh the scale and arpeggio at this time), Italian composer Scarlatti’s huge keyboard output (over 550 sonatas) were intended to be played on the harpsichord, and therefore demanding precise articulation. This type of precision can be a useful exercise, as mastering finger control and hand position changes helps prepare for more advanced repertoire.

  1. Chords appear at various points (Bars 1 – 2, 31 – 32, & 59 – 60). They will require some extra arm weight and sound in order to project (especially at the beginning and end of the work). There’s often much homophonic (chordal) movement in Scarlatti’s keyboard music; it might be beneficial to begin by working on these chords, balancing the hand, so the notes sound altogether (despite usually being spread or arpeggiated on the harpsichord!). Chords can provide ‘anchors’ at various points, not just proffering a richer texture, but adding shape and fostering a steady pulse.
  2. Ornaments (embellishments or added notes) are prevalent throughout this work, and for many can cause grief. when working separate hands, aim to choose fingering which accommodates the ornament (if marked), but which you can play without adding it. Then work at the entire piece (practising hands separately and together) without the embellishments (this will help awareness of the musical and dynamic shape). Add them into the piece only when you can play it sufficiently well i.e. without many hesitations or inaccuracies. If added earlier, ornaments tend to destabilise the pulse, and can cause a host of rhythmical issues. Therefore, sort this out beforehand by not playing them until confident.
  3. Ornaments occur in the right hand, and are generally mordents (a particular ornament or trill) of some kind. In the example to the left; the first mordent is sometimes known as an ‘upper’ mordent and the second (with the line through it), a ‘lower’ mordent. Underneath illustrates how they might be played. In the Trinity exam book, it’s been suggested that they might be played as triplets (three semiquavers per mordent), which works well. Try to isolate each embellishment, working thoroughly with your chosen fingers, playing heavily and deeply into the key bed. Then when you lighten your touch and play faster, they should sound and feel even.
  4. Each semiquaver pattern (group of four to every crotchet) must be even rhythmically, with plenty of clear, crisp articulation. To practice, aim to play every note with a deep touch (as already suggested for the ornaments), and ensure fingers leave notes accurately (i.e. not holding on or over lapping with the next note). Equally important is to place notes exactly. Either use a metronome, set on a semiquaver beat (when practising slowly), or count every single semiquaver aloud as you play. This should help alleviate any rushing or lingering!
  5. Good coordination is vital. There’s nothing as helpful as playing a quarter of the speed, hands together, working two (or one) bars at a time. Careful work at bars 15 – 18 (and all similar), where the left hand has rapid passage work, will be necessary. Don’t ignore staccato markings and short slurs – they contribute shape and energy.

2. Dedicatoria (from Cuentos de la juventud, Op. 1) by Enrique Granados (1867 – 1916)

A tranquil, reflective work which contrasts nicely with the Scarlatti, written by Spanish composer Enrique Granados. It hails from the set entitled Stories for the Young, and the first piece of the group is Dedicatoria.  Granados’ piano music is often complex, so it’s refreshing to hear a relatively simplistic piece which still captures his distinctive style and harmonic language.

  1. A cantabile approach will work well in the right hand, where all the melodic material is placed. There are three layers of sound here; the left hand accompaniment, the right hand ‘inner’ part and the melody, which forms the top line. I would begin by playing the top line alone, taking care to use the fingering you intend to use whan combining the two right hand parts together. Focus on producing a rich, warm sound, joining as many notes together as possible in a legato fashion (and if this isn’t possible, aim to create the illusion of legato, by holding down the note until the very last moment, matching the sound of the dying note with that of the next one.
  2. The ‘inner’ part or line can also be practised alone; try to play with a full sound until notes and fingerings are secure, and then lighten your touch keeping a firm triplet beat. Counting in three equal quaver beats per crotchet throughout can help, remembering to leave a quaver rest at the beginning of the beat (for the tune). If you practice using a firm pulse to begin with, it will feel easier to relax it when eventually adding rubato.
  3. When combining the two parts (melody and ‘inner’ parts in the right hand), aim to weight the hand towards the weaker fingers (i.e. the fourth and fifth fingers). The melody will need the support from the hand, wrist and arm, because a deeper sound is required. Experiment by moving the hand and wrist fractionally, away from the body. The middle or inner parts should ideally be much lighter, as they play an accompaniment role. The larger leaps at bars 9 & 11 might need fast-slow practice (moving much quicker than needed at first, then slowing the leap down, so it feels comfortable). Place the semiquaver (bar 10 & 12, right hand), slightly after the last triplet quaver of the inner part.
  4. The left hand must be soft, light and supportive. Smooth legato will work best, and try to keep fingers depressed until the very last possible moment, particularly when playing the minims in bars 10, 11, 12 and all similar.
  5. The sustaining pedal will add an expressive warmth and resonance if used, as directed, on virtually every crotchet beat. Observe tempo changes and strive for a really soft, distant ending.

3. Spanish Dancer (from Les Miroirs de Miró) by Edwin Roxburgh (1937 – )

Continuing with the Spanish theme, this energetic work might transport the listener to Seville for an evening of Flamenco dancing, complete with guitar effects! But for me, it represents a more serious, contemplative Spanish character.  Written by British composer Edwin Roxburgh, it requires a sure sense of pulse, which calls for a solid rhythmical grip.

  1. The triplet rhythm will probably need some attention; start by clapping the rhythm, taking the issue away from the keyboard. Place the semiquaver triplets carefully, whilst counting in quavers throughout. To play the triplets (which are in the right hand at the opening), practice the figuration (an E & B played together followed by an F) as a chord first of all, then loosen the wrist  and move (the hand and wrist) quickly from right to left (and back again), supporting the fifth finger on the E (and second finger, which will probably be used to play the B in the opening bars). Place more emphasis on the E & B and play the thumb, slightly lighter.
  2. The triplet figuration moves into the left hand from bar 3, as part of the accompaniment; in order to fully sound all three notes, without missing any out or producing a ‘jerky’ unrhythmical accompaniment, as always, play the whole accompaniment powerfully, into the key bed, then when the patterns are lightened, the triplets will hopefully sound even. Aim to play them softer than the melody.
  3. The simple but vibrant tune consists of short phrases (which are interrupted at various points with the introductory two bars, or a variation on them). Generally, the phrase develops as it progresses, making a fuller sound necessary towards the end. For example, at bar 10 – 13, which become increasingly dramatic, climaxing at the quasi cadenza (which is ad. lib, or played with a certain amount of freedom). This also happens at bars 19 – 23, perhaps reminiscent of a Spanish guitarist.
  4. In keeping with the Spanish feel, accents, pauses, staccato & tenuto markings abound and their inclusion in any performance will determine its success. With this in mind, it might be prudent to add such details in towards the beginning of the learning process, so they become a natural part of the piece, as opposed to an afterthought.
  5. The sustaining pedal should ideally be out in force here, and is a much-needed addition, amplifying the sound. But caution is required! Too much of a good thing will obscure finger work and more importantly, harmonies, and this is particularly true of the third beat of the bar (at bars 1 – 2 and the like), where the pedalling has been carefully omitted.

My Publications:

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.



5 Top Tips for Hand Flexibility

I’ve written before about hand flexibility. A flexible hand can be the key to playing octaves or any intervals or chords requiring that ‘outstretched’ position. As with all piano topics discussed here, hand flexibility is open to personal interpretation, and there are many ways to achieve a relaxed hand. For those with a larger hand, my suggestions probably won’t be of much concern at all (I have a teenage student who can easily span the interval of a twelfth, therefore playing large chords isn’t only instinctive for him, it’s easy!). However, most students aren’t so fortunate; I have a smallish hand and by doing the following exercises (over a period of time, when I was a student), I can now play tenths. As with all technical exercises, nothing should feel uncomfortable or painful.

These tips recently appeared in the newsletter of Pianist Magazine (you can also read them here), and I hope they are of interest.

Hand flexibility is an oft-forgotten topic. Hands can easily become locked and tense, rendering playing an uncomfortable, tight experience. Wrists and arms should ideally feel soft, light and loose as we play, whilst the fingers and knuckles remain firm. But hands also need to be relaxed in order to open and ‘reach’ larger intervals such as chords and octaves. Here are a few ideas to work on flexibility.

  1. Firstly, become aware of how taut or loose your hand actually is; with your left hand, ‘feel’ the palm and surrounding fleshy areas of your right hand. Does it feel relaxed and soft, or tight and locked-up? When relaxed, most hands are pliable – and they need to stay this way, or at least ‘feel’ comfortable as you play. Learn the feeling of looseness and keep referring to this sensation; this will be important later.
  2. Lay your hands on a flat surface away from the keyboard, and determine how far you can open them (or stretch out) without feeling any muscle pull or discomfort. To begin with it may not be much, but if you practice this little exercise (just opening the hand) regularly, then your hands will become accustomed to being ‘open’ or outstretched, and they will eventually be able to open out further and further. Keep in mind the feeling of relaxation in the hand at all times.
  3. Now play a triad (C, E, G in either hand would be perfect). As you play, with your other (free) hand, note how your hand responds when playing – are the fleshy areas still relaxed when you play? If they are tense, revert to playing a single note and as you depress the note (keeping it depressed), aim to release the muscles within the hand (at first this will require focused concentration).
  4. When you feel relaxed playing one note, play two notes a sixth apart (for example, a C to A in the right hand and then the left). Rock from side to side as you play this interval (from C to the A and back), ‘letting go’ of any tension in your hand as you strike the notes. In between the notes, practise dropping your wrist (lowering it, as opposed to raising it high above the keyboard as you play) freely, again letting go of tension; a constantly moving wrist can help tremendously with flexibility.
  5. Now play the intervals of a sixth (both the C and A) at the same time (as a chord), again ‘letting go’ or releasing any tightness in your hand muscles, but still keeping the notes depressed. When this feels comfortable, move up to an interval of a seventh and finally, an octave. As the hand gets used to the wider position, allow your muscles to keep releasing any tension. Eventually the hand (and you!) learns to enjoy the outstretched position and its very relaxed stance allows for an easier grasp of chords and octaves, fostering a healthier technique, free of pain and discomfort.

My publications:

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.


Selecting & Practising Piano Exam Repertoire: ABRSM Grade 5

Continuing with my series examining effective exam programming combined with five tips for the suggested listed pieces,  ABRSM Grade 5 is the focus today. Some of my tips could be applied to similar repertoire, so if you’ve already settled on your programme, you might be able to use some of the ideas mentioned here. These pieces come from the Piano Exam Pieces volume published by the ABRSM (as shown to the left).

List A: A 3, Waltz in A J. 146, (No. 4 from Sechs Favoritwaltzer) by Carl Maria von Weber (1786 – 1826)

German composer Weber, who studied with Haydn, was a fine pianist, although he was primarily known as an opera composer. ‘Six favourite waltzes of the Queen of France, Marie Louise’ were written in 1812; this piece exemplifies perfectly Weber’s ebullient style, demanding utmost precision, virtuosity and delicacy from the performer. Why not start by learning and practising the scale and arpeggio of A major (key of the piece)?

  1. The Trio (or middle section) has a distinctly different character from the outer sections; the opening is full of elegance and grace, whereas the middle section is rather dramatic, dark and almost sinister with its rhythmic insistence and minor key (A minor; again, perhaps explore this key too by working at the scale and arpeggio).
  2. The opening consists of an elegant theme and accompaniment. Aim to block out (play all at once) the left hand quaver patterned Alberti Bass (broken chord or arpeggiated accompaniment); playing one chord per bar, where possible), noting fingerings and position changes (this could also be done from bars 17 – 24 too). Then, taking a very slow practice speed, using a deep touch, ensure each quaver is played heavily, allowing a flexible wrist and lateral wrist movement between each note at the start, to quell any potential tension. When speed is added, lighten the touch; it may be necessary to break any wrist tension either at the end of every bar (to start with) or after each group of four bars. This can be done be releasing the hand and wrist’s ‘grip’, creating a very slight break or hiatus (only for a split second), allowing relaxation. If this proves tricky, practice by resting the arm down by the side of the body during each four bar mini-break (which you will have created if practising using this method).
  3. The melody (right hand) requires a very smooth legato, observing the four bar phrase structure with care. Accents (in bars 2 & 4) help shape the tune, and the acciaccaturas can bounce swiftly onto the main crotchet beat, adding a playful touch. It may be prudent to practice the quaver runs heavily securing all fingering, but when played up to speed, these rapid figurations must be light, delicate and graceful. Resist any temptation to accent the second and third beats of the bar, and turn the thumb under the hand flexibly, so as to avoid lumpy, jerky hand turns.
  4. Balance between the hands might take some work; a cantabile (singing) right hand will really enhance any performance, whilst the left hand can be light and soft. I find it helpful to reverse touches in this instance (left hand, cantabile, with the right hand playing softly, then adding non-legato coupled with legato into the mix).
  5. The left hand arpeggiated chords in the Trio need some kick and swagger; aim for a quick lateral movement (from left to right) in the forearm and wrist. Fingers need to be really active though, so that all notes of the chord sound. Keep the left hand thumbs (on the As) powerful but short and detached, throughout. The right hand needs firm touch; place each beat precisely, colouring the melody, with the arpeggiated chords merely adding to the texture.

List B: B 1, Sostenuto in E flat (KK IVb No. 10) by Frederyk Chopin (1810 – 1849)

A short, slip of a piece by the great Polish Romantic composer, but in just one page, many hallmarks of Chopin’s style are clearly displayed. This charming work was written in Paris for a friend and pupil, Emile Gaillard in 1840. In the style of a Waltz, it contains characteristics synonymous with the 19 Waltzes written throughout Chopin’s career. First of all, focus on the E flat major scale and arpeggio. And then the chord of the home key (tonic or chord I), consisting of E flat, G & B flat, followed by the dominant or chord V; B flat, D & F; these appear several times in the first half of the piece (left hand). The work is in binary form (or two sections).

  1. Secure the left hand first; try to learn the fingerings, notes and hand position changes without keeping time or adhering to a pulse. To gauge the leaps and jumps (which waltzes and similar dances often contain), always use larger jumps than necessary (experiment by moving an octave more than written), and once you’ve played the interval, practice it in reverse (i.e. backwards; you could even play the bar backwards, or beat three first). Each bar will need slow work, and after practising a lone bar, try to end on the first beat of the next, to ensure continuity. Always aim to land on each chord in good time. When played up to speed, give the first beat of the bar more promienence, keeping the second and third, lighter.
  2. In the first section (bars 1 – 16), the right hand melody must be cantabile (in a singing style), as often in Chopin’s music. For this, use a very relaxed wrist with the weight of your arm behind each note, playing into each key deeply, as opposed to sliding or skimming over the top. The depth of key, coupled with weight of the arm, will determine the quality of sound, therefore flexible posture, strong fingers, and a keen ear will be important here. Think of the Acciaccaturas as part of the melody line; slightly relaxed rhythmically, as opposed to the more precise ornamentation often found in Baroque music.
  3. Bars 14 & 15 contain a double note passage in the right hand; separate each pair of notes, (from bar 14 last quaver beat), and work at the lower note first, then the upper (alone but with correct fingering). When playing together, play with various touches (staccato, non-legato, etc.) in order that the notes sound at the same time, before focusing on the top line. Try to support the fourth and fifth finger, with the hand and arm, to produce a legato melody.
  4. The left hand melody from bar 16 (upbeat)  might need plentiful separate work; the acciaccaturas tend to dominate; practice without the ornaments to establish shape and fingering, then play them as regular quavers until they have been incorporated successfully. When confident, add speed to each acciaccatura and play ‘lightly’ and swiftly as a scant upbeat to the main quaver pattern. The right hand’s accompaniment requires soft colours and rhythmical placing.
  5. The sustaining pedal is part of the fabric of this piece; listening is the best method! Pedalling on the first beat of each bar might be a good start, then let your ear be your guide. Rubato is a useful addition to the end of phrases (such as bars 15 – 16), but try not to use it constantly, as, even in this genre, too much renders a performance unrhythmical.

List C: C 1, Staccato Beans (No. 2 from Eight Memories in Watercolor) by Tan Dun (1957)

Staccato Beans contains an exuberant vivacity with a Chinese inspired folk melody. Premiered by Chinese pianist Lang Lang in 2003, it has already proved a favourite on this syllabus. Written by Chinese composer Tan Dun, and set in D minor, dynamic contrasts and melodic inflections abound, providing an excellent exam programme line-up with the Weber and Chopin.

  1. Coordination is paramount, and due to the many different articulation marks, separate hand practice should suffice until fully assimilated. Jumps between sections around the keyboard must also be taken into account, before playing hands together.
  2. The left hand opening quaver pattern has been carefully marked and must be even rhythmically; two slurred quavers followed by two staccato. Once the overall chordal patterns have been learned (particularly at bars 1 – 8 and 24 – 34),  play legato at first, then work at the articulation, allowing a free wrist (as often mentioned here!); avoid locking-up whilst playing repetitive patterns of any kind; find places in the music to break any tension and release the wrist.
  3. The right hand melody is heavily articulated, a bold touch with added shape and definition courtesy of the accent markings is ideal. When playing staccato, try not to rush from one note to the next. This can happen when playing in a detached manner, as the shortening of a note can allow the next to be sounded too quickly. Avoid this by counting meticulously, ‘feeling’ the pulse.
  4. The left hand minims at bars 13 – 18 must be held for the entire bar, as they provide the bottom of the harmony. Coordination may need attention, so the middle Cs above, are well placed rhythmically with the correct articulation.
  5. Sforzandos are the key to a successful interpretation; accents in the right hand, at bars 26 – 43 particularly, need highlighting with a brusque, sharp timbre, bringing the Chinese characterisation to the fore. This is especially true of the passagework in the high register of the instrument (at bars 40 – 43, for example). When the melody repeats (bars 44 – 61), softer colours can be employed. Keep the sustaining pedal to a minimum; a dry, austere sound mimics the folk-song semblance nicely.

For more practice information relating to other piano exams and exam boards, please visit my archives, here.

My Publications:

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.


The London College of Music Piano Syllabus 2018 – 2020

The much awaited London College of Music (LCM) piano syllabus has finally been published. A new syllabus is always exciting – both for student and teacher. I am an enthusiastic supporter of piano exams; they provide a veritable goal for anyone learning, particularly for younger players. And whilst an exam syllabus should never be used as a piano ‘method’ per se (i.e. where the student moves from one exam to the next with little or no solid repertoire or technical work in between), they can provide a whole host of benefits for the conscientious learner. Employing any exam syllabus as a method in itself is rarely a good idea, and eventually becomes a non-starter, as inevitably students can’t keep pace with the escalating difficulties from one exam to the next. However, if exams are used in a positive way, to occasionally measure progress and afford interesting musical discoveries, then they are a very valuable tool.

The new LCM syllabus is a winner. In recent years an oft-discussed topic has been the relative lack of lesser known repertoire, with particular reference to the scant inclusion of works  by female composers. Sadly, there still aren’t enough female composers or writers working in the industry, let alone being featured on the exam syllabuses (this goes for professorial staff too – there may be many female piano teachers locally, but try to study with one at a higher level, and they suddenly become a bit thin on the ground).

Hopefully, these issues are finally being addressed, and they have certainly been addressed in the new LCM syllabus. Female composers abound here, leaping from the pages with aplomb. And it’s wonderful to behold. Any examination board must uphold standards, but such ingenuity in programming is not only much appreciated, it may also make the difference when selecting which board to use.

I like the layout of the syllabus in general; not all exam boards include the technical work (scales, arpeggios and exercises) for each grade in the same volume as the pieces. This works well, and there are also sight-reading examples and aural tests at the back of the books too. Buying many books for each exam (i.e. purchasing the scales, sight-reading and aural tests separately) is a costly business and having them all under one roof might avert the recurrent scenario of ‘forgetting’ books at the weekly lesson too!

Each handbook (for every grade) comes with nine pieces (twelve for Grade 8), and three (four for Grade 8) from each list, but there is an alternative syllabus too, for those who prefer to go off-piste. Beginning with pre-piano exams, the Pre-Preparatory and Piano Steps 1 & 2, offer simpler tunes for those just starting to play, we then move swiftly to Grade 1, which features works by expected composers such as Attwood, Diabelli, Mozart, Rossini, Bartók and Weber. These are set alongside Contemporary favourites by renowned educational composers such as Christopher Norton, Elissa Milne, Ben Crosland, Heather Hammond, Alan Bullard, and Pamela Wedgwood. It’s refreshing to see Rebekah Maxner, June Armstrong and Barbara Arens on this list too – certainly a strong female line-up.

Perusing the handbook, other interesting Contemporary options throughout the syllabus (in my opinion) might be the following: The Lonely Traveller (Evelyn Glennie, Grade 2), From the Rue Vilin (Max Richter, Grade 3), Cicada Sketch (Arlene Sierra, Grade 3), When Rivers Flowed on Mars (Nancy Telfer, Grade 4), Every Morning, Birds (Rachel Grimes, Grade 5), Curroco Molto (Tony Pegler, Grade 6), Railroad (Travel Song) (Meredith Monk, Grade 6), Forest Musicians (Sofia Gubaidulina, Grade 6), Lowside Blues (Joanna MacGregor, Grade 7), and The Barnyard Song (Alwynne Pritchard, Grade 8).

Each Grade spotlights expected classics (with ample Baroque, Classical, Romantic and Twentieth Century selections), but there are a few other unexpected choices from female composers far and wide; Liza Lehmann, Teresa Carreño, Lili Boulanger, Fanny Mendelssohn, Ethel Smyth, Céclie Chaminade, Amy Beach and Yvonne Adair. A larger selection awaits if you decide to venture on to the alternative lists. An aspect pleasing to me, is the careful selection of jazzy and ‘blues’ options. Whilst these jolly pieces are enjoyed by students, there often seems an unnecessary deluge of them littering some syllabuses.

I’m reasonably familiar with the handbook selections as one of four writers commissioned to write the Performance Notes for Grades 1 – 8. I wrote around 30 notes in all (for Grades 1 – 6), including nearly all those for Grade 1 and 2. Pianists and teachers, Kirsten Johnson, Zubin Kanga and Daniel Grimwood, also wrote copious notes interspersed with those of some of the highlighted composers, who wrote their own.

The inclusion of suggested practice and performance ideas (alongside the background history of each piece) is excellent and, again, separates the LCM syllabus from other exam boards; buying separate practice notes might not appeal to many, and so to have them printed next to the pieces is a beneficial, user-friendly initiative.

For those who may have previously over-looked the LCM examination board, this new offering will afford plenty of food for thought. The syllabus offers much-needed variety and might just introduce students to previously unknown composers, encouraging them to delve deeper and explore more unusual repertoire options. And that can only have a favourable outcome.

You can read (and download) the new syllabus here, and find out much more about the London College of Music Exams, here.

My publications:

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.

The Piano Teacher’s Survival Guide: the winner is…

Many thanks to all who took part in this weekend’s competition. The prize is a copy of the new Faber Music book, The Piano Teacher’s Survival Guide written by Anthony Williams.

The winner is…


Congratulations! Please send your address via the contact page here on my blog, and your book will be on its way!

You can find out more about this publication, here.


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, which you can read here. 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! Over to Anthony…

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.


My publications:

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.








Attending a Piano Pedagogy Conference

Until last week I had only ever attended one piano pedagogy (teaching) conference, and had never participated in such an event; so it was with a spirit of adventure (as well as slight trepidation) that I ventured into the unknown. After a successful trip to the Far East over the Summer (where I gave three weeks of classes, lectures and workshops), I was invited to present at the UCSI University Piano Pedagogy Conference 2017, in Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia). It was an offer I couldn’t refuse; I’m accustomed to travelling around the world alone (having done so for years as a young pianist), and find the challenge of working in exotic places simply irresistible.

Piano pedagogy conferences appear the world over (with arguably the most well-known being held in the USA and Australia). The UK equivalent is organised by EPTA (European Piano Teachers Association) and is usually a three-day marathon. Most conferences offer a continuous stream of master classes, workshops, lectures, recitals and presentations given by various expert pedagogues, with the aim of inspiring teachers and students.

By all accounts, they can be somewhat dull, dry affairs (or so I’ve often heard), where groups of teachers might congregate to discuss the benefits of the five-finger position (or not, as seems to be the case these days if you read the raft of comments on the various online piano teaching forums!). Luckily, I have found students and teachers in Malaysia in particular, more open to different ideas and teaching practices. This was bourne out during my Summer trip, where learning and sharing were the order of the day everywhere I worked.

The UCSI University is often considered the number one higher education institute in Malaysia, in terms of music; its Institute of Music is very active, offering its student body recitals, master classes and prominent Malaysian teachers. Headed by Dr. P’ng Tean Hwa (who runs the department;  pictured above, closing the conference in the concert hall), the institute is thriving, with a new concert hall and music building (which had opened only the day before the conference). Assistant Professor Dr. Christine Tan and her team of organisers had paid meticulous attention to every detail, so that both presenter and participator should want for nothing. I stayed in the hotel at the campus; which, rather like the concert hall, had only opened very recently.

This was the university’s first piano pedagogy conference and it featured two action packed days (6th and 7th November). Conference attendees consisted of a mix of teachers and students. The students were primarily drawn from those studying at the university (fortuitous students indeed; I don’t remember anything of this nature being held at the Royal College of Music during my student days), and the teachers were largely local, although there were some from Indonesia and other nearby countries.

The key-note speaker, Professor Dr. Michael Campbell, gave a series of master classes and workshops, including an interesting improvisation lecture, where four students (using two pianos) experimented with ‘group’ improvisation. Dr. Campbell closed the conference with a recital which encompassed a large selection of styles and genres; from Scarlatti and Mendelssohn to Bartók and Fats Waller.

The Plenary speaker, jazz pianist Michael Veerapen, is a renowned figure in the Malaysian jazz scene. Michael gave a master class, several lectures and a jazz concert complete with band. Both speakers also took part in a pre-conference event the day before (5th November), offering further workshops on their specific specialties.

Sandwiched in between the keynote speakers were a group of presenters, including myself. Each presentation lasted 35 – 40 minutes, with a brief Q&A at the end. We spoke on an extensive selection of topics, and those I attended were fascinating. Musicologists picked subjects close to their heart, like Decoding Idiosyncratic Hairpins of Schubert, Chopin and Brahms—Dynamics or Rubato?  (given by Dr. Cheong Yew Choong) and then there were the practical workshops, which sometimes required audience participation, such as Nurturing Musical Abilities: A Creative Movement in Piano Lessons Using Dalcroze Eurhythmics Approach (given by Dr. Onpavee Nitisingkarin; pictured at the piano (above) with a keen group of conference attendees).

Austrian pianist Dr. Andreas Eggertsberger’s lecture was very informative, focusing on a much debated issue, Focal Dystonia. The talk, entitled Focal Dystonia: My Experience with the Injury, highlighted this debilitating physical problem of which many are not even aware. Focal Dystonia is, by all accounts, similar to repetitive strain injury or tendonitis. Dr. Eggertsberger carefully plotted his story, illustrating how he managed to find his way back to relative health, demonstrating  the patience and resilience required to ‘re-learn’ to play by acquiring a more secure, solid technique (technical issues are frequently the cause of physical injury).

I felt fortunate to be able to talk about my new piano course, Play it again: PIANO (it’s often deemed inappropriate to openly ‘advertise’ your own publications at conferences, but such rigid views aren’t upheld in this part of the world). My presentation (pictured to the right), entitled Developing an Effective Programme for Those Returning to Piano Playing, touched on the need for this student demographic to have a progressive, graded collection of pedagogically sound pieces, with plenty of technical help, enabling them to easily re-acquaint themselves with the instrument. My lecture was indeed popular (with around 75 in the audience; as seen in the photo below) and a fair few books were sold too.

We were treated to a splendid array of culinary delights over the two days, with a variety of tasty Malaysian dishes, all included as part of the conference. During these extended breaks, teachers and students could mingle, network and discuss the pleasures and perils of piano teaching. There was also an opportunity to purchase piano music, piano memberships and the instruments too, courtesy of a trade floor in the basement of the building.

I really enjoyed making new friends and acquaintances, and found the whole event a stimulating, worthwhile learning experience. I hope to attend many more piano pedagogy conferences in the future.

My publications:

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.


Practising Nocturne No. 20 in C sharp minor Op. Posth. by Fryderyk Chopin

I wrote about practising this beautiful Nocturne a few years ago (you can read the article here), and it has become one of my most ‘viewed’ blog posts. This work is now especially popular partly due to the fact that it is on the current ABRSM Grade 7 syllabus (2017 – 2018). I was invited to rewrite the article for EPTA’s Piano Professional magazine; it was published earlier this year, and is more in-depth than the first one, with a few different practice ideas. I hope you find it of interest.

Fryderyk Chopin’s Nocturnes offer a rich array of depth, emotion and expressivity. Written between 1827 and 1846, they consist of 21 short pieces. The genre was developed by the Irish composer John Field, but Chopin expanded on this original conception, producing what are generally considered to be amongst the finest short pieces ever written for the instrument. This Nocturne was composed in 1830 for Chopin’s older sister, Ludwika, and was first published 26 years after the composer’s death. It is frequently referred to as the ‘Reminiscence’ Nocturne.

The Nocturne typically constitutes a romantic, dreamy character, suggestive of the night. The main feature of most Nocturnes is a beautiful song-like melody, often with melancholic overtones accompanied by a rolling unobtrusive bass. Ornament passages and filigree in the melody are commonplace, and the importance of the sustaining pedal cannot be overestimated, bestowing the overall dramatic effect. There are many variations, but the formula has produced some of the most haunting, emotional and exquisite piano music.

Whilst Nocturnes are generally slow and may sound fairly ‘straightforward’, in practice, nothing could be further from the truth. A Nocturne, or any similar slower paced work requiring a cantabile (in singing style) touch and a deep connection with the key bed in order to produce a full, rich timbre, needs specific practice methods, and those ideas presented here could therefore be applied to a host of similar works.

During 2017/18, the piece featured on the syllabus of the ABRSM (Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music) Grade 7 piano exam. So with this in mind, here are a few practice suggestions for students to digest and apply, with the intention of making the path to examination success a little smoother.

The opening chords can present a few problems and need consistent balancing; an active, strong fourth and fifth finger (used to colour the top line) must be combined with a ‘soft’ approach in the wrists so as to cushion the sound. A daunting opening such as this, where each note must sound fully, should ideally be voiced perfectly and yet still extremely soft. The trick (other than trying the concert or examination piano first!) is to focus on the top note (or melodic material) making quite sure it’s completely legato; ask students to change fingers, where necessary, keeping the legato line, and then combine with sparse pedalling. By making sure arm weight is transferred to the fourth and fifth finger (experiment by moving the right hand and wrist slightly to the right, away from the body, therefore providing more support for weaker fingers), pupils should be able to produce a full sound in the melody line allowing other notes  (accompanying chords) underneath to fade into the background.

I encourage students to join fingers wherever possible in a legato melodic line – it’s more effective than relying on the sustaining pedal. Play the remaining notes in the chords with a very relaxed arm and wrist, depressing the keys slowly, testing the key bed, checking where the sound kicks in. Note too that the repeat of the opening chordal passage must be played much softer, like an echo. Here’s the passage;

And the melodic line, which needs special attention (with suggested fingering);It can be helpful to practice the inner parts of the chords (as shown in the first example here) on their own, gauging the necessary feeling, balance, and sound in order to play sufficiently quiet, yet altogether. Add the top (melody) line when secure.

After the introduction, the remainder of the piece consists of a rolling, quaver bass constructed from arpeggio or broken chord figurations over which a captivating right hand melody prevails. There are many different layers of sound in this work requiring a whole gamut of touches and pianistic colour; the three layers at the opening can be separated and practised in isolation (from bars 2 – 5);

  1. The melodic material in the right hand:

     2. The broken chord quaver figurations in the left hand:

    3. The bottom of the chord (the bass line) which is usually the first quaver of every minim group which generally occur twice in every bar:

It’s always worthwhile practising the left hand alone for an extended period, until notes are fully grasped (it can help to know the patterns from memory too), because absolute consistency and evenness is necessary with regard to rhythm and tone.  Rubato (or taking time) is a feature of Chopin’s music, but even the composer himself apparently insisted on a rhythmical bass, proclaiming ‘The left hand is the conductor of the orchestra’, above which the melody can enjoy some rhythmical freedom.

Students might benefit from using a variety of touches when practising; start by playing the bass line fortissimo, playing deep into the key bed, because then it is easier to pull back and achieve a smooth, soft, even sound. The bass notes at the beginning of each broken chord are the most important as already mentioned, and need slightly more sound and a tenuto (or held) approach (this note can be held for a fraction longer than the other quavers), because it’s providing the bottom of the texture harmonically (the constant bass C sharps in the following extract. The example shows all three strands or layers of music from the examples above, combined (or as written));

It’s a good idea to be aware of the musical structure (which is ternary form) and the harmonic structure too, as this aids quick study, particularly if the piece is to be performed from memory.

Each quaver in the bass leads musically to the next, yet at the same time must provide the ‘middle’ and ‘lower’ layer of sound, and therefore should generally be in the background with regards to volume. Try to avoid the temptation to ‘poke’ or ‘jab’ at notes.  To play these bass quavers evenly, it might be beneficial to play them in ‘blocks’ at first; blocking out chords involves playing the notes in each group (here, on every crotchet beat) all together, so the correct fingerings, hand positions and movement needed between notes is swiftly learned. When this has been done and thoroughly assimilated, ask pupils to play as written, encouraging the hand and wrist (especially) to roll from left to right, guiding the fingers into their positions, allowing fingers to ‘hover’ over the notes in preparation.

The large gaps between the notes in the left hand (i.e. between the C sharp, G sharp and the E, during the first two crotchet beats of bar 1, in the musical example above), is more comfortable with a wrist rotation (or lateral wrist movement), the hand moving quickly back to the C sharp on beat 3 (from the previous middle C (sharp) on the second quaver of beat 2 (bar 1)). To do this rhythmically and evenly, encourage students to stay on each note for as long as possible, quickly swivelling the fingers and hand into place in preparation for the next one; this way legato will hopefully prevail and there will be few gaps in the sound.

For note security and gradation of tone, the left hand can be practised without any pedal at first and certainly without rubato. As the bass part becomes more secure, so pedal can be gradually added. It’s crucial to constantly listen when pedalling; the pedal is often best controlled by the ear as opposed to written suggestions on the page. This might sound obvious but it’s easy to pedal mindlessly, not listening to everything clearly.  During the ‘busier’ passages, pupils might experiment with ‘flutter’ pedalling; where the sustaining pedal is constantly moving up and down (or hovering) in order to ‘clear’ the sound and avoid blurring too many harmonic progressions.

The melody, as with many of Chopin’s works, requires a real cantabile (or singing style) touch. It must soar above the bass and consist of a wonderful operatic quality synonymous with Chopin’s style (Chopin was reportedly a fan of the Italian composer Bellini’s operas). A free wrist with plenty of arm weight can provide a suitably rich, warm sound; even the pianissimos need some arm weight and the overall timbre should ideally project fully. The success of this line relies on  an understanding of the nuances of each phrase. Rather like sentences, a melody must have punctuation. Aim to study each phrase ‘feeling’ the direction of the music, seeking where the most important note or notes lie and adjusting the sound and shape of the phrase accordingly. Ask pupils to listen to where and how the melody rises and falls, therefore enabling dramatic sections to stand out musically. Space is vital in this work, so students must allow ‘breathing’ time between phrases.

The tricky ornamental or fioritura (or embellished) passagework and scalic runs can be negotiated by working again with a full sound (for practice purposes only), encouraging all fingers to play fully on their tips (particularly the fourth and fifths), and deeply into the keys, as opposed to sliding over the top (make sure the fingerings have been written in the score before practice begins). Then experiment with different types of articulation (staccato, non-legato, varying accents and dynamics); complete clarity is desired in every figuration, with all notes ‘sounding ‘equally, as opposed to being rushed or concertinaed together.

A particularly helpful method of practising trills, like that found in the musical example (in the right hand at bar 2), is to take the ornament out of context, working at it alone. Begin by securing the fingering (and sticking to it!), then ask students to play each note in the trill slowly and heavily, using the full force of each finger (always ensure a relaxed free wrist and arm, preferably after every note, so tension doesn’t arise). When the shape or pattern of notes has been understood, practice using accents on the weaker fingers, then on the stronger fingers.

Each note in the trill can be played twice or as a double note; every finger needs to enunciate the notes cleanly and with force here (but without any tension). Pupils can then play triple notes or triplets (three notes per trill note). When employing this approach, the wrist must be relaxed between every note, so the hand appears to be ‘bouncing’, as opposed to stuck in one position, which could indicate tension. By playing more notes than necessary, when the trill is played as written it feels much easier and more comfortable.

Elongating trills can also be useful, and by making them more challenging than originally written, when pupils return to playing Chopin’s score, inserting the ornaments into their rightful place, they seem much smoother and more controlled.

After practising the suggested methods using a distinctly heavy touch, a lighter finger touch should reveal even, accurate trills and florid passages, with fingers skating over the keys lightly. As with the left hand, work on the right hand separately until secure and confident. It might be a good plan to practice with the metronome until total rhythmic grasp is honed, and only then start thinking about rubato. Working under tempo is also advisable until any hesitations and insecurities have been ironed out, and coordination between the hands is exact.

Scale passages in the right hand from bar 55 onwards, can be contoured to ‘fit’ with the bass line; encourage students to mark the score at the most convenient ‘meeting’ places between the right and left hand passagework, and then stick to this every time during practice sessions; within a short space of time, these ‘meeting’ places will feel increasingly natural, and will eventually allow for more rhythmic flexibility. The left hand quavers will also need to be elastic rhythmically in order to accommodate the group of thirty-five right hand semiquavers at bar 56.

At bar 19, new material heralds the start of a less sombre section, characterised by a dotted rhythm and insistent triplet figure (which appears in the left hand from bar 31 to bar 42 (the main theme returns at bar 44). Chopin has marked all details very thoroughly, from dynamics (‘ff’ to ‘pp’) to the precise musical markings, which must all be noted.

If students can colour each layer of sound accordingly, and combine this with a thorough technical grounding, they will be on their way to creating a persuasive reading of this enchanting piece. And they will hopefully be able to tackle any subsequent Nocturne or similar work effectively, whether it be for a graded exam, diploma, or concert performance.

Suggested further reading:

Chopin, Pianist and Teacher; As seen by his pupils: Jean-Jacques Eigeldinger (published by Cambridge University Press)

After the Golden Age: Romantic Pianism and Modern Performance by Kenneth Hamilton (published by Oxford University Press)

Teaching Notes on Piano Exam Pieces Grades 1 – 8, 2017 – 2018 (published by ABRSM)

ABRSM Piano Notes 2017/18 (published by Rhinegold)

You can read the original article here: Practising Nocturne No 20 in C sharp minor by Fryderyk Chopin

My publications:

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.


Sight-reading success with Paul Harris & Faber Music

During November, Faber Music are hosting a fabulous Piano Month, and are celebrating with a new piano resource magazine; The Faber Music Piano Catalogue.  Featuring all Faber’s piano publications, you can browse the magazine online for free by clicking here. As well as copious information about each publication, the new magazine also includes articles from some of their well-known piano writers and composers such as Pamela Wedgwood, Anthony Williams, Karen Marshall and Paul Harris.

My guest post today has been written by Paul Harris. Paul is a best-selling, renowned writer, composer, arranger, and author who has penned over 600 publications. His series, Improve your Sight-reading! is a stable resource in many a music teacher’s library (including mine!). A passionate advocate of sight-reading, the following article, which features in the Faber Piano Catalogue,  encapsulates Paul’s formula for sight-reading success.

Do I have to Sight-read?

This is a question many teachers may hear from their students. And for those who can play well from memory or by ear, why would they need to? The greatest gift we can give our pupils is musical independence, no longer needing a teacher to show them how it goes. If they can read, the whole wonderful world of music is open for them to explore and enjoy without restriction. Pianists can learn music to their hearts’ content, play duets, accompany friends and take part in all manner of ensemble playing with the confidence that their reading skills will allow them complete and unhindered understanding. And they’ll get high marks in exams!

The Improve your sight-reading! Teacher’s book for piano completes the process of learning to sight-read. If some lessons, or parts of lessons are given to teaching sight-reading skills (set out comprehensively in the Teacher’s book) and the pupil then goes home to practise (using the Improve your sight-reading! workbooks), the teacher will now find plentiful material to use to complete and polish the process.

Sight-reading can be taught. And all pupils can learn to sight-read accurately, fluently and confidently if they are taught in a systematic manner. The Improve your sight-reading! series, now complete with the addition of this teacher’s book will, through its methodical approach, allow all to achieve this essential core skill. Because each step forward is sequential and logical, progress will be continually evident and the whole experience will be fulfilling and fun!

Faber are offering a 10% discount on many selected publications in November and December this year, and you can find out more here.


My publications:

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.