Play it again: PIANO Book 2

Those of you who read this blog regularly will know that I have recently written a new two-book piano course, Play it again: PIANO (Schott). Book 1, released in April 2017, was featured on my blog a few months ago (you can read about it here), but I haven’t really focused on Book 2 as yet (it was published at the end of July). Following on from Book 1, Book 2 is also a progressive, graded course, takeing students from intermediate level up to advanced (approximately Grade 4/5 up to Grade 8 +).

Who is this course for?

Play it again: PIANO is designed for those ‘returning’ to the piano after a break (whether a teenager or adult), it would also be useful for students who want a course running in tandem with the British examination boards (great for repertoire between exams, plus helpful information on piano technique, scales, arpeggios and sight-reading). Teachers who fancy an anthology of pieces to work through with their pupils, may like to explore these books too.

What you can expect to find in the books

The course consists of 49 piano pieces (28 in Book 1, and 21 in Book 2), the majority of which are drawn from standard repertoire (with emphasis on pedagogical works), starting at elementary level (Grade 1) through to advanced (Grade 8). Each book has an extensive ‘technique’ section at the beginning, with plenty of technical reminders and practice recommendations, and a ‘theory’ section at the end. Each piece contains at least two pages of practice ideas and tips, as well as many musical examples, diagrams and photographs. As this is a progressive course, it’s possible to ‘return’ to a level to suit your current standard; some may want to start at the beginning (which is what I suggest, as this can be valuable, even if your playing is at a much higher level), whilst others may prefer to ‘drop in’ at Book 2 or a later stage.

Each book is divided into four parts, and Book 2 looks like this: Late Intermediate, Early Advanced, Advanced, and Late Advanced. Although this course is not exam based, it’s helpful to know the approximate grades for each level; Late Intermediate is roughly Grades 5 – 6 level (ABRSM exam standard), Early Advanced, Grades 6 – 7, Advanced, Grade 7 – 8 and Advanced, Grade 8 and above.

Every level contains a group of pieces; 6 in the Late Intermediate and Early Advanced levels, 5 in the Advanced section, and 4 pieces in the Late Advanced. My brief was to include a wide variety of styles and genres, so there’s plenty for those who enjoy lighter Contemporary styles (rock, ragtime and blues).  There are also plenty of well-known original classical pieces and some lesser known gems too.

Book 2 Repertoire

C.P.E. Bach: Solfegietto C minor H 220
L.v. Beethoven: Für Elise WoO 69
F. Mendelssohn-Bartholdy: Song Without Words, op. 30/3
H. Berens: Study F Major, op. 88/18
E. Cobb: Lavender Haze
M. Spanswick: Seahorse Dream
G.F. Händel: Allegro from Suite G Major HWV 441
W.A. Mozart: Allegro from Sonata C Major KV 545
L.v. Beethoven: Adagio Sostenuto from “Moonlight” Sonata, op. 27/2
J.B. Cramer: Study C Major, op. 50/1
J. Brahms: Waltz A-flat Major, op. 39/15
S. Hormuth: Sweat Feet Stomp
F. Schubert: Impromptu A-flat Major D 935/2
S. Heller: Warrior’s Song, op. 45/15
C. Debussy: The Girl with the Flaxen Hair L 117/8
Trad/B.Carson Turner: Londonderry Air
J. Turina: Fiesta, op. 52/7
J.S. Bach: Prelude and Fugue C minor BWV 847
F. Chopin: Raindrop Prelude, op. 28/15
S. Joplin: The Entertainer
S. Rachmaninoff: Prelude in C-sharp minor, op. 3/2

Layout

I’ve included the scale and arpeggio of each key (where appropriate), and warm-up exercises, tailored to certain pieces. There are a myriad of practice ideas, and different methods of breaking pieces down, re-assembling them with ease and with greater understanding. Each piece contains fingering, dynamic suggestions and (where necessary) some pedalling. Although you may choose to ignore this and add your own. All the information provided for every piece is transferable to an infinite number of piano works, therefore building solid practical methods for tackling different styles and genres.

The pages are well laid out and are designed with ‘Tips’ and ‘technique’ box-outs, and I hope it’s an easy to use course, inspiring pianists to rekindle their love for the piano.

‘Melanie Spanswick’s Play it again: Piano in my view exactly hits the spot for these players, and deserves to be a huge success both for her and Schott Music.

It is abundantly clear that a huge amount of thought, work and expertise has gone into each and every element of these superb books, and it’s all paid off handsomely: Play it again: Piano is simply one of the most brilliantly conceived and stunningly produced sheet music publications of recent years.

I write lots of reviews for the benefit of readers, but this inspiring series has passed the ultimate test: I will certainly be recommending and using these books with lots of my own students in the coming months and years, and I’m really looking forward to it!

Genuinely Brilliant!’

Andrew Eales, Pianodao.com Blog

You can purchase the books on Amazon in the UK, Book 1 and Book 2, from the Schott website, or from many other internet outlets. If you are in the US, you can purchase here: Book 1 and Book 2. Canada: Book 1 and Book 2. Japan: Book 1 and Book 2, as well as many other online sites worldwide.


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.


 

 

 

 

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Musical Odyssey

I enjoy highlighting various piano courses, whether they be in the UK, or abroad. Today’s featured Summer course is held in Nafplio in Greece, and is intended for singers and pianists. Musical Odyssey runs from the 19th to the 26th July 2017, and is organised by artistic director and Russian pianist Yekaterina Lebedeva.

The faculty includes Yekaterina and Artur Pizarro (piano), and Nuccia Focile (soprano), and Manolis Papasifakis (accompanist and accompaniment teacher). These are Summer masterclasses with a difference, offering intensive tuition from expert pianists and pedagogues, sponsored concert engagements and various prizes. The course offers three unique programmes for different age groups, as well as future concert engagements and continuing support for successful participants.

Younger pianists (those under 16 years of age) are supervised by more experienced conservatoire students who work with them, visiting lessons as well as helping practice sessions. The older students also receive help and guidance with teaching practices from the expert pedagogues too. Previous pianists and pedagogues who have given classes at this course include Cristina Ortiz, Janina Fialkowska, Vanessa Latarche, Laurens Patzlaff, Susan Bullock, Judith Howarth and Sumi Jo.

Set in beautiful stunning Greek scenery, Musical Odyssey is sure to be a great way to spend your Summer holiday.

www.musical-odyssey.com

For more information, click on the link below:


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 reasons to take a piano course

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At this time of year, countless piano courses are being held all around the world. The Summer provides the perfect time for such an event; young piano students are generally on school holiday, and older students can finally use that last bit of holiday time from work. There are courses to suit every level and budget. So whether you are serious about your piano playing, or perhaps just want to enjoy some concentrated time with a group of like-minded individuals working at a much-loved past time, here are five reasons why taking a course can be useful:

You will have the opportunity to play to an expert teacher. It’s always a good idea to work with many teachers, because each one will shed new light on different aspects of your playing (many music conservatoires are now making this practice a rule, so advanced students can benefit from the teaching of several professors).

You will have the chance to meet pianists who are in the same situation as yourself, and who will possibly have similar interests. There will be time to chat, establish friendships and even piano playing partnerships.

You’ll hear and become acquainted with an assortment of repertoire, as participants will probably all play different pieces from various historical periods, providing inspiration for future practice.

One of the most important elements when attending a course, is learning from other players. As your fellow course participants take their turn to play, you can really ingest what the teacher is saying, and you can also ask them to show or help you with those particular elements too.

Piano courses are great for performance practice. It can be a challenge to play for others, but particularly in front of classmates, so such an opportunity will definitely encourage more confidence and help your overall development as a pianist.

Piano Courses don’t always take place in the Summer! They happen throughout the year. You  can read more about my forthcoming course at Jackdaws Music Education Trust, which takes place in October (23rd – 25th), on Pianist Magazine’s Website here. There are just a few places left on my course, but Jackdaws Music Education Trust runs piano courses regularly throughout the year with some fantastic teachers; check it out here.

For readers based in Germany, I’m also holding a course at the IKM Gelsenkirchen (in Gelsenkirchen, near Düsseldorf) on the 3rd & 4th October (the photo above is from one of my German courses). It’s a bilingual course (in English), which runs over the weekend; consisting of a two-day workshop, which will be held at the historic IKM practice centre (which is an old  mine), on a beautiful Bechstein grand piano. The course always includes a Sunday afternoon concert for all participants. Both workshop and concert are open to the public. For more information, please send me an e-mail via the contact form on this blog.

Image: Kery Felske


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.


Overseas Masters Winter Piano Academy 2014

There are a plethora of piano courses taking place every year here in the UK. The majority are held during the Summer months, coinciding with holiday periods, usually offering a mixture of one to one lessons and group classes. Courses can be a very helpful addition to a pianist’s regular musical activities, providing much-needed extra ‘ears’ and piano tips.

Two years ago, I was invited to coach group classes on the Overseas Malaysian Winter Piano Academy (as it was then known), which is held at the Yehudi Menuhin School in Surrey, UK. The structure of this course is fairly unique, in that it provides high quality lessons, classes, concert opportunities and a UK ‘experience’ to a group of talented young musicians from the Far East. Most of the participants are from Malaysia, although this year there were some students from Singapore too (25 pupils in all). Each participant has been auditioned and selected, and most are at least Grade 8 standard (many were far beyond this, several students in my classes had already achieved the FTCL or FRSM). Once chosen, pupils fly to London for twelve days, returning home on Christmas Eve, after a fantastic musical adventure.

This course was established in 2010 by  Malaysian pianist Bobby Chen, who masterfully arranges all the activities and events. Bobby is a busy concert pianist who studied at the world-renowned Yehudi Menuhin School, and it does indeed provide a marvellous backdrop. The facilities are superb, with plenty of large music rooms all resplendent with one or two excellent pianos, as well as two concert halls, and beautiful surrounding grounds.

Each pupil receives several individual piano lessons, many groups classes (in Composition, Improvisation, Conducting, Chamber Music etc.), lectures, evening recitals given by some of the tutors, the opportunity to hear their fellow student’s lessons (most lessons are open classes), the chance to play in the final Gala concert, and a visit to London, taking in cultural sites and concert performances too. Most participants are pianists, but there were a few string players for the first time this year.

The faculty is impressive, showcasing some of the finest musicians and teachers: Anthony Hewitt, Dominic Alldis, Mikhail Kazakevich, Thomas Carroll, Julian Jacobson, Carole Cerasi, Andrew Ball, Douglas Finch, Leslie Howard, Murray McLachlan, Ruth Nye, Terrence Lewis, Stephen Goss, Graham Caskie, Boris Kucharsky, Mihai Ritivoiu, Tomasz Ziemski, Aleksander Szram……and me!

I gave three hours of classes to four groups. One hour each on Technique, Sight-reading and Memorisation Techniques. I enjoy group lessons and so, it seems, do students, as they eagerly learn from each other; lots of interaction can be both fun and instructive. My classes contain plenty of participation at and around the piano, and there’s always a Question and Answer session and discussion time too.

One great advantage of staying on campus for a couple of nights, is the chance to meet some of the faculty and enjoy their lectures and recitals. I was fortunate to have free evenings, and was able to hear three lectures. Pianist and Professor of piano at the Royal College of Music, Julian Jacobson, presented a fascinating talk about the first movement of Beethoven’s Appassionata Sonata No. 23 in F minor Op. 57. Julian (rather bravely) played all 32 Sonatas in one day for charity last year, at St. Martin-in-the-Fields in London, so he has a wealth of knowledge on this subject. He played excerpts from the piece and shed much new light.

There were two lectures on the second evening. Pianist, Head of Keyboard at Chetham’s School of Music and Professor of piano at the Royal Northern College of Music, Murray McLachlan, talked about his new publication, The Foundations of Technique, published by Faber Music. Murray explained the reasons behind writing the book (formed from articles he had written for the International Piano Magazine, over many years), and the importance of honing piano technique. Covering wide-ranging crucial topics, Murray demonstrated at the piano and spoke eloquently.

The second lecture was given by Pianist and Professor of piano at the Royal College of Music, Andrew Ball. Andrew lectured, demonstrated at the piano and also played recorded excerpts about his love of Twentieth Century music. It was an interesting journey of personal discovery and reflection.

On my third and final evening at the school, we all enjoyed a piano recital given by Murray McLachlan. The programme consisted of Chopin’s Berceuse in D flat major Op. 57, Liszt’s Sonata in B minor, and John McLeod’s Fifth Piano Sonata, which was written especially for Murray. The recital was certainly a highlight and I will write in more detail about it and the wonderful McLeod Sonata in a future post.

Students were clearly lapping up the musical riches on offer at the course; many claiming they had never experienced such a rich tapestry of stimulating events and performances. I was only sorry I couldn’t hear my colleague’s open classes during the daytime.

Bobby must be congratulated for his meticulous attention to detail, and ingenuity in creating a course which juxtaposes his homeland and heritage with that of his education and present life. He has changed the lives of many Malaysian piano students, opening up a whole new world of possibilities. I look forward to the Overseas Masters Winter Piano Course 2016.

www.omwpa.com

Menuhin 2014

With one of my classes (photo: Jiacy Chuah).


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 Week 2014

Highlighting piano festivals and summer schools is always a pleasure. Piano Week was launched last year by pianist Samantha Ward. It’s an international festival and summer school for pianists of all ages and abilities which takes place in the beautiful surroundings of North Wales.  Piano Week 2014 is once again being held at Bangor University between 10th and 15th August and it has an international faculty which will give recitals and master classes throughout the week.

Samantha wanted to build a performance platform for pianists from around the world and she chose North Wales partly because it’s where she grew up, and also she wasn’t aware of any venture such as Piano Week taking place in the area previously.  The location is idyllic and in 2013, the festival welcomed participants from all over the UK as well as from America.  The ethos of Piano Week is that it’s open to everyone. All festival participants benefit from one-to-one piano lessons, duet lessons, a master class with a member of the faculty, talks and discussions, classes in listening, theory and composition for children and comparative listening and analysis for adults, a performance in the Schott Music showcase, a demonstration on the ‘inner workings’ of the piano, performance opportunities both as a soloist and in part of a duet and recitals and a cabaret performance given by the faculty.

The Piano Week 2014 faculty hail from all around the globe and are all highly acclaimed concert pianists as well as excellent pedagogues; David Fung (Guest Artist, Australia), Maciej Raginia (Poland), Niel du Preez (South Africa), Sachika Taniyama (Japan), Vesselina Tchakarova (Bulgaria), Alexander Karpeyev (Russia) and piano technician David Daniels (UK).

Piano Week 2014 is being supported by Bluthner who are lending a brand new concert grand piano for the duration of the festival this year.  Pianist magazine included an article about the festival in their recent issue and Schott Music publishers will once again be presenting a showcase at Piano Week 2014.  An interesting and educational week for piano enthusiasts everywhere, if you fancy taking part or just want to find out more information, click here.

 

Sam ward 4

Sam Ward 3

Photos from the 2013 Piano Week


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.