Weekend Competition: the winners…

Many thanks to all those who took part in my weekend competition.

The featured resources this week are Paul Harris’ A Piece A Week and Books 1 & 2 of The Foundation Pianist, all published by Faber Music.

 

THE WINNERS

Katie Frayling wins A Piece A Week Grade 4 Piano

Rebecca Swaby wins The Foundation Pianist Book 1

Joanne Snowden wins The Foundation Pianist Book 2

Congratulations! Please send your address via the contact page on this blog and your book will be on its way.

You can find out much more about these publications, The Foundation Pianist Book 1, The Foundation Pianist Book 2, and A Piece A Week Grade 4 Piano


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.


 

Weekend Competition: The Foundation Pianist & A Piece A Week

Before I jet off to the Far East for a very exciting book tour (more about that in another post), it’s time for a Weekend Competition. Today’s competition features Paul Harris’ latest book, A Piece A Week, and a new series, The Foundation Pianist, written by Karen Marshall and David Blackwell; both published by Faber Music.

Building on the success of The Intermediate Pianist, Faber’s most recent addition to this series will certainly be a very useful resource for piano teachers. The Foundation Pianist is a set of two progressive books for pupils just beyond the beginner stage who want to develop a solid pianistic foundation.

I like the layout, which is clear and easy to read, and the selection of music  will inspire students to explore many different styles and genres; from madrigals, symphonies and operas, to folksongs, minuets and gypsy dances. As well as arrangements, there are also original pieces, some written by David Blackwell. Teachers and students will find invaluable information to help improve technique, musicianship and theory – with lots of little extras, such as detailed reference to various musical periods (Renaissance, Baroque, Classical, etc.), and ‘scale and arpeggio generators’, including both the melodic and harmonic minor scales (not always a feature at this level). These volumes are well worth exploring.

A Piece A Week Grade 4 piano written by renowned educator Paul Harris should also be a teacher’s library favourite. I have enjoyed observing the development of this series, which offers students that important bridge between sight-reading tests and learning repertoire at speed. These books are designed to be used alongside Paul’s series, Improve Your Sight-reading!, and they aim to encourage pupils to learn fairly straightforward pieces (all written by Paul) swiftly – preferably in a week! It’s a great concept and the ideal way to improve reading skills.

I have one copy of A Piece A Week and a copy of Book 1 and Book 2 of The Foundation Pianist to give away this weekend. As always, please leave your comment in the comment box at the end of this post, and I will announce the three lucky winners on Monday evening, so do check my blog to see if you’ve been selected. Good Luck!

You can find out much more about these publications and purchase them here: The Foundation Pianist Book 1, The Foundation Pianist Book 2, and A Piece A Week Grade 4 Piano.


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.


 

Weekend Competition: the winners…

Many thanks to all who took part in my weekend competition. There were three books on offer this weekend, all from Faber Music’s immense library: Ultimate Piano Solos, and The Easy Piano Series, Film and Shows.

The winners are:

Miriam wins the Ultimate Piano Solos

Jennifer Foxx wins The Easy Piano Series: Film

Kathy Thompson wins The Easy Piano Series: Shows

Congratulations! Please send your address via the contact page on this blog, and your books will be on their way.

You can purchase the Film volume, here, Shows, here, and the Ultimate Piano Solos, 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.


 

A Special Faber Weekend Competition

It’s Friday and therefore time for a weekend competition. My competition this week highlights three books all courtesy of the fabulous Faber Music.

The Ultimate Piano Solos anthology is just that: a collection of fifty favourite works across many different genres arranged for the piano, for approximately Intermediate (to advanced) level. Beautifully laid out, this selection would make a superb addition to any pianist’s library, and is particularly useful for advanced players who are searching for interesting sight-reading material. It also offers plenty of ideas for those who seek party pieces too.

Included in this book are the following: Bella’s Lullaby (From Twilight), Davy Jones (From Pirates Of The Caribbean), Dive (Ed Sheeran), The Entertainer (Scott Joplin), Gymnopedie No.1 (Erik Satie), How Deep Is Your Love (Bee Gees), Karma Police (Radiohead), La Fille Aux Cheveaux De Lin (Claude Debussy), Melodia Africana 1 (Ludovico Einaudi), Moonlight Sonata (L.V. Beethoven), Pavane (Gabriel Faure), Prelude In E Minor (Frederic Chopin), A Thousand Years (The Piano Guys), Variations On The Kanon (George Winston), What A Wonderful World (Louis Armstrong), Memory (From Cats).

Arrangements provide the perfect opportunity to spend time at the piano getting to know both new and favourite tunes. The Easy Piano Series is proving popular, and I’ve two volumes to giveaway;  Film and Shows. These books are easy to read, often include words to songs plus chord indications, and are suitable for anyone from around Grade 2 – 4 (ABRSM level). Excellent as repertoire books for that ‘between exams’ stage, or for an end of term concert.

The Easy Piano Series Film features:

  1. As Time Goes By (Casablanca)
  2. City Of Stars (La La Land)
  3. Davy Jones Theme (Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest)
  4. Hedwig’s Theme (Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone)
  5. How Far I’ll Go (Moana)
  6. New Moon (The Twilight Saga)
  7. Not About Angels (The Fault in Our Stars)
  8. Pure Imagination (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory)
  9. Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head (Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid)
  10. The Ring Goes South (The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring)
  11. See You Again (Furious 7)
  12. Star Wars (Main Theme) (Star Wars)

The Easy Piano Series Shows features:

  1. Breaking Free (High School Musical)
  2. Maybe This Time (Cabaret)
  3. Memory (Cats)
  4. Nowadays (Chicago)
  5. On The Street Where You Live (My Fair Lady)
  6. Someone To Watch Over Me (Oh Kay!)
  7. Summer Nights (Grease)
  8. Summertime (Porgy & Bess)
  9. Tomorrow (Annie)
  10. Wait For It (Hamilton)
  11. Where Is Love? (Oliver!)
  12. You Give A Little Love (Bugsy Malone)

I have one copy of the Ultimate Piano Solos, and one each of The Easy Piano Series Shows and Film for three lucky readers. As always, to be in with a chance of winning, please leave your comment in the comment box at the end of this blog post. I will announce the winners on Monday evening (British time), so be sure to check my blog to see if you’ve been successful. Good Luck!

You can purchase the Film volume, here, Shows, here, and the Ultimate Piano Solos, 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.


 

Teaching the tricky intermediate stages, by Karen Marshall

My guest post this week has been written by piano teacher and author Karen Marshall. Karen feels passionately about keeping students engaged in their piano studies, with emphasis on enjoyment, so they want to continue their piano playing. I asked her what elements she considered most important when teaching at the intermediate level (approximately Grade 3 – 5). Over to Karen…


The intermediate stage of learning the piano – and indeed any instrument – is a notoriously tricky period. Many teachers may find students dropping off, losing interest and quitting lessons. I’ve been teaching now for over 25 years and it could not fail to come to my attention that these stages of learning were some of the most difficult to progress through.

There are multiple reasons for this, but I believe it is often at least partly due to increased school work (leaving less time to practise), at the same time as music becoming considerably more complex.  Students who have a good ear and have previously been able to memorise music will start to struggle to do this with the longer repertoire.  Added to that, frustrations mount as music becomes more technically and musically demanding, resulting in slower progress.

My solution to these problems was to come up with an intermediate curriculum for my students that would help to develop their musical understanding and provide a holistic learning experience. But I also realised that my students required variety, the opportunity to be creative, and a continual sense of achievement. If these elements are combined with key theory, technical development, and carefully chosen repertoire, I found that note-reading will be improved, technique and musicality developed and students will gain a greater understanding of what they are learning.

The Intermediate Pianist is an amalgamation of my life’s work, tailoring this holistic approach for use with Grade 3 to 5 level students. It is a series of three books that has emerged from years of working with these students, aided by many attractive compositions by Heather Hammond.  It is, in essence, a music curriculum that piano teachers can use to fit their teaching style, either by working through each chapter in lessons, or by getting students to use it at home.

Co-author Heather Hammond and I have paced the books to take into account varying time students have to practise. We made sure that the music deliberately spanned a range of difficulty levels and styles, so some pieces can be learnt in just one or two weeks, whilst others are more challenging. This approach has been highly successful in ensuring my students didn’t give up the piano, and very luckily I was able to get this curriculum published. Here’s a quick look at the different elements:

To provide variety and understanding

25 Styles of music explained with definitions and activities over three books.  Including March and Lullabies, Swing and Boogies; Polka and Baroque Dance Suits, Four chord Pop and Reggae; Latin and Theme and Variations, Impressionism and Minimalism.

To provide opportunities for creativity and understanding

Musicianship activities included throughout from playing by ear to transposition, listening activities to recognising cadences.  Theory is included in a creative and attractive way with word searches and quiz activities.

To provide pace and ‘quick wins’

Quick learn material for sight reading – lots of easier material is included so students will have enough time to complete the whole book and experience lots of styles, keys and improve their sight reading.  Pieces move forward and backwards in levels for consolidation.

To provide understanding

Technique – All keys’ scales and arpeggios are covered up to five flats and five sharps along with carefully selected technical exercises or repertoire to develop key technique.

To keep students inspire using the repertoire of great composers

Repertoire – Core repertoire has been selected from Bach’s Anna Magdalena Note book and his Two Part Inventions, Schumann’s Album for the Young, Tchaikovsky’s Children Album, Clementi Sonatinas Opus 36, Burgmuller’s Opus 100, Chopin’s Preludes and Bartok’s For Children.  This is combined with new composition and arrangements or famous classical music from Beethoven’s 7th Symphony to the Flower Duet by Delibes, Howard Goodhall’s QI theme and Por Una Cabeza Tango.

You can purchase The Intermediate Pianist from all good retailers, or from Faber’s website, 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.


 

Lang Lang Music Theory Cards Twitter Competition

The new Lang Lang Music Theory Cards, published just last month by Faber Music, are colourful, informative and innovative. Fifty-two colour coded cards are designed to extend knowledge and make theory an enjoyable experience for students, teachers and parents. Each pack features imaginative questions to improve note-reading and music theory skills. The cards are the latest addition to the Lang Lang Piano Academy; they can be used in conjunction with the Lang Lang Piano Method and are suitable for complete beginners.

With questions such as ‘True or false’, ‘What’s the difference?’ and ‘Explain this!’ alongside favourite characters displayed in the piano method books, these fun-filled packs add a different dimension to learning theory, offering an engaging, appealing adventure. Chinese concert pianist Lang Lang is renowned for his work in music education and has inspired millions of children to study the piano.

Learning an instrument can be a really important part of a child’s development and a great way to improve many things like concentration and focus. Learning needs to be enjoyable as well and I’m sure kids will make good progress and be inspired to keep going with this series.”
Lang Lang

You can purchase the cards here, and sign up to Faber Music’s mailing list here, to hear more about The Lang Lang Piano Academy, plus music education and piano news & ideas from Faber Music.


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.



 

Piano Gallery: the winner…

Many thanks to all for taking part in my first competition of the year. The prize is a copy of Piano Gallery, a new collection of 14 pieces written by Pam Wedgwood and published by Faber Music.

The winner is:

SHARON SCOTT

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

More competitions coming soon! For more information on Piano Gallery, click 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.


 

Weekend Competition: Piano Gallery

The first competition of 2018 features an innovative, attractive volume penned by renowned composer Pamela Wedgwood. Piano Gallery  (published in November 2017 by Faber Music) is a collection of 14 piano pieces which, as the title suggests, have all been inspired by great works of art. Each piece corresponds to a particular painting, and these paintings have been beautifully printed and included as a pull-out (in the middle of the publication) alongside the music.

‘I’ve relished writing this music that responds to the mood, colour, style, story and even humour behind each painting.’

Pamela Wedgwood

The works are easily accessible and intended for the intermediate level pianist (around Grade 4 – 6 of ABRSM standard). Playing through them, I would suggest they contain a variety of styles, yet Pam’s own voice can still be clearly heard. I enjoyed Starry Night (painting by Vincent Van Gogh), Fatata te Miti (painting by Paul Gauguin) and Large Wave (painting by Hokusai).

You can discover the music and paintings behind them for yourself by taking part in my competition. I have one copy to giveaway to one lucky winner. As usual, just leave your comment in the comment box below this blog post, and I will pick the winner on Sunday evening (British time). Be sure to check the post here on this blog, to see if you’ve been selected. Good luck!

You can find out more about Piano Gallery, 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…

JULIE REEMAN

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.