Tricky Corners: The Leaping Fifth Finger

September heralds the start of a new academic year and is therefore an appropriate time to begin my new monthly series, ‘Tricky Corners’. Those who read this blog will know that I particularly enjoy developing a student’s technique. This is all about re-training bad habits, transforming them into good ones, which takes time and care….

Reverse Learning

My lastest article for Pianist Magazine’s newsletter, published in June (you can subscribe to the newsletter for free, here), focuses on a seemingly counterproductive concept: ‘reverse learning’.  But this can be a surprisingly useful tool, and I hope you might find it of interest.   Chances are that when you start learning a piece, you…

Positional Piano Playing

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

5 Tips to Help Develop the Fourth & Fifth Fingers

Wishing you all a happy and restful bank holiday weekend. Today’s post was first published in Pianist magazine’s April 2020 newsletter (you can subscribe to this newsletter for free, here). I’ve written before about these pesky fingers! The fourth and fifth fingers can be tricky to control and they require patience to develop, and,  if…

Creating Even Passagework

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

10 Motivational Practice Tips

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

Twiddling Your Thumbs

Recently I’ve been working with several students, aiming to develop strong, active thumbs. This may sound rather strange, but we tend to take the thumb for granted. They protrude at the side of each hand and we just expect them to support the fingers. I’ve written several times, here on this blog and in various…

Fruitful Fingering Part 2

This is the second article in my series for Piano Professional Magazine, published by EPTA (European Piano Teachers Association): a teacher’s publication, for which I write the technique feature. You can read the first article, here, and in Part 2, I look at different methods of applying certain fingerings, offering various options  for students. Teachers…

Structured Piano Practice for Beginners: 10 Tips

Several readers have recently written requesting a post on structured practice ideas for beginners. I scrolled through my archives and realised that I hadn’t written anything on structured practice for this vast and significant group of piano students. I’m very sorry about this, and in order to redress the balance, I hope you find the…

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…