Play it again: PIANO Book 1 & Book 2
Play it again: PIANO is a two-book piano course published by Schott Music. Intended for those returning to piano playing after a break, the course would also be useful for any teenage or adult piano student requiring a selection of progressive piano pieces to either study alone or whilst working with a teacher (piano teachers have found these volumes useful too).
Book 1 features twenty-eight selected pieces from approximately Grade 1 – 4/5 standard. Each section contains seven piano pieces, and they are categorised as Elementary (Grade 1 – 2 level), Late Elementary (Grade 2 – 3), Early Intermediate (Grade 3 – 4), and Intermediate (Grade 4 – 5). Book 2 features twenty-one pieces from Grade 5 – 8 +). In Book 2 the first two sections, Late Intermediate (Grade 5 – 6) and Early Advanced (Grade 6 – 7), contain six pieces, and the final sections, Advanced (Grade 7 – 8) and Late Advanced (Grade 8 and above), contain five and four pieces respectively.
I have included a huge array of genres from Baroque music through to rock, jazz and improvisation, mostly selected from standard repertoire; each level includes an arrangement and a technical study. Every piece has approximately two pages of practice tips and suggestions, with photos, diagrams and musical examples. You can find out more, purchase copies and watch taster videos here. The books can also be purchased on Amazon and throughout many online outlets, as well as in shops around the world.
Love it! ‘Very well laid out and visually attractive to read. Covers things systematically with attention to detail. It is not for the absolute adult beginner and assumes you can read basic music notation and understand time signatures etc. however I am finding it extremely useful as a returner aged 60+ having given up as a child; love it!’ – 5 star review on Amazon
The Faber Music Piano Anthology
This anthology, published by Faber (October 2016) consists of 78 pieces taking pianists from approximately Grade 2 ABRSM (elementary level) to Grade 8 (advanced). I selected works from Faber’s extensive catalogue that I hope players of all levels and abilities will enjoy. A collection of core repertoire from many great composers, is presented in progressive order and contains famous works by well-known composers, as well as plenty lesser known gems. Presented in a luxury hardback edition featuring high-quality premium paper, page finder ribbon and ‘The Concerto’ linocut cover image by Cyril Edward Power, this volume would be the ideal gift for the keen pianist. Find out more and purchase here.
‘Melanie Spanswick brings together a delicious collection of short pieces carefully chosen according to progressive level, variety and concision, but happily non-dependent on exam syllabuses. For those who need new choices for practising and sometimes feel a bit daunted by the quantity of options, and unsure of their difficulty, it helps to solve the problem in one easy package.’
Jessica Duchen, Jessica Duchen’s Classical Music Blog (recommended as one of the Top 12 Books for Music Lovers 2016)
‘Melanie Spanswick is a pianist, teacher and composer well qualified to make this selection. Teachers will love having all these pieces in one book, young pianists will be inspired by it, and it could give returning adult players a renewed love for the instrument. ‘
Fiona Lau, Music Teacher Magazine (January 2017)
‘Overall, this is definitely a collection to cherish! The Faber Music Piano Anthology contains a fabulous variety of great music, beautifully presented. It not only represents a rather wonderful Christmas gift, but will surely stand the test of time to become a treasured source of pleasure and piano-playing enrichment. A truly outstanding publication!’
Andrew Eales, Pianodao blog (November 2016)
So You Want To Play The Piano?
This book is intended for prospective piano students everywhere (as well as those who already play!). It contains plenty of information about how to start playing; what instrument to acquire, how to select a teacher, piano books or methods, tips about posture, basic piano technique and how to practice and prepare for piano exams. There is also a chapter surveying music throughout the ages, with lists of composers and suitable piano music for beginners up to intermediate level. So You Want To Play The Piano? has recently been revised, expanded and republished in a second edition by Alfred Music (October 2015), and you can buy your copy here
‘This is an excellent book, a first-class introduction and guide to those wishing to learn the piano, full of sensible and practical advice and very well written by an experienced pianist and teacher.’
Robert Matthew-Walker, Musical Opinion
‘This is an excellent book for anyone who is interested in piano lessons for themselves or a family member. It is extremely comprehensive and includes everything you could possibly want to know about piano lessons. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a book quite like this, and anyone considering piano lessons should use this book as a resource.’
Susan Paradis, Leading US Music Educational Writer and Teacher
Piano Magic (published by EVC Music Publications; May 2016) consists of 10 pieces for the Elementary pianist (around Grade 1-2 level of the ABRSM exams). These pieces evoke a fantasy world of witches, wizards, ghosts and fairies, and are essentially designed for the young pianist. You can find out more and listen to them here, and purchase the book here.
‘Melanie this book is magic! I love it. Last week I played several pieces for students. I think I’ll be buying more books soon! They loved the music.’
US Piano Teacher, Virginia Carpenter
Piano Waves (published in February 2016) consists of 5 piano pieces intended for the intermediate student (Grades 4-6 level ABRSM). They were inspired by the sea, and contain a hint of minimalism. Find out more and listen to the pieces here and purchase here.
‘This collection presents an inspirational, minimalist pianistic array of a mysterious & atmospheric underwater world. All would make lovely concert and festival pieces, providing pianists with a wonderful opportunity for expression, beautiful tone and colour. My favourite is ‘Waltz On A Sunken Ship’.’
British composer and educator, Heather Hammond
Snapchats (published in September 2015) consists of 11 little piano duets intended for those of late elementary or early intermediate level (Grades 2-4 ABRSM). They last no more than 8-10 bars, and exhibit a variety of moods and characters. Find out much more here and purchase here.
‘I tried some of these little gems with one of my students today and Phoebe enjoyed the music very much. They are very practical because of their size. They are also easy enough to sight-read and to teach students some new techniques. Thank you Melanie.’
Bulgarian pianist and piano teacher, Antonina Koleva Lax
Digressions consists of 5 piano pieces intended for those of intermediate level (Grades 4-6 ABRSM standard). They are Minimalist and cinematic in style, are tuneful and comfortable to play and are published by EVC Music Publications (May 2015). You can listen to each piece and purchase them here.
‘The lyricism of Karma and dramatic nature of Digression, in particular, should appeal; the pianistic writing also promotes technical development’.
Publications to which I’ve contributed:
The Mindful Pianist
Written by British pianist, teacher, composer and adjudicator Mark Tanner, and published by Faber (September 2016), and one of several books in EPTA’S Piano Professional Series, this helpful volume quotes 25 respected pianists and pedagogues regarding different aspects of mindful piano playing, to which I contributed a paragraph. You can find out much more about this excellent publication and purchase it here.
Piano Notes Series 2015/6 (published by Rhinegold in January 2015) and Piano Notes 2017/18 (pubished in January 2017), are designed to assist teachers preparing students for ABRSM piano exams. They are comprehensive notes providing information about how to study and what to look for in each exam piece (as well as all the alternative pieces too). They have been written by five piano teaching experts. I wrote the majority of the notes for Grade 1 – 3 for the 2015/6 notes and all Grade 1 – 6 list C pieces for the 2017/8 notes. Find out more here.