I’m delighted you enjoyed reading my recent post, recommending 15 top piano resources; many books, sheet music and downloads were purchased as a result, which is exciting. So here are a few more ideas for piano fans everywhere.
You’ll notice I now have a smart new ‘recommendations badge’, so I’m hoping to make this a regular blog feature. We all need new, or simply different, music and fresh ideas when teaching, playing the piano or seeking helpful online resources, so whether you are a beginner, a more advanced player, or a piano teacher, I hope there will be something here for everyone. Also included this month; an interesting online piano show, plus information on various piano memberships.
Get Set Piano!
This series of piano tutor books is published by Bloomsbury and written by British composers Heather Hammond and Karen Marshall. Well laid out and easy to follow, there are several volumes in the series (once Book 2 has been studied, students are apparently approximately Grade 1 standard). The first book in this progressive series guides beginners from their very first lesson through to Prep test level. Note learning is taught alongside aural, theory and composing skills providing a holistic approach to music. There is a handy ‘Tutor’ book and ‘Pieces’ book which together provide ample material for beginners. Get your copy here.
Eye-Tunes for Zoo Keepers
Composed by British pianist Mark Tanner, there are 11 books in this series, which takes students from pre-Grade 1 up to Grade 8, and some of the pieces have been included in the London College of Music exam syllabus. Tuneful, easily accessible and very ‘now’, with references to computers, the iPad (in some of the later volumes), and humorous descriptive titles, such as Music to Milk Cows by and The Worm has Turned, which youngsters will love. This volume will capture the young player’s imagination, and uses white notes only, so would serve as the perfect ‘My first recital’ book. Published by Spartan Press, get your copy here.
Threnody from Five Bagatelles
Written by Australian composer Carl Vine, this beautiful piece was written in 1994 and is the final work in a collection entitled Five Bagatelles. It is sub titled ‘for all the innocent victims’ and was composed for the Australian National AIDS Trust. Threnody is the simplest piece of this set (other pieces are around Grade 7/8), but this would be an ideal Contemporary work for pianists of Grades 5/6 standard (it’s one of the ABRSM selected works for Grade 6 2015/6). It requires the performer to read three staves at once (great practice), would suit those with a wistful imagination, and also provide a great backdrop for pianists wanting to develop an expressive, varied tonal palate. Use of pedal is crucial too. The overall impact is one of atmospheric beauty and emotion. Get the score here.
A funky collection of bright, upbeat, jazzy pieces written by British composer Elena Cobb. Written out Jazz, but with plenty of references to Blues and Latin style, these pieces would benefit from great rhythmic energy and a ‘swung’ feel. Titles such as Star Dust, Tango Leone and Cloud Seven, Latin, will no doubt inspire pupils, who will also enjoy the tuneful, cheerful approach. Around Grade 5/6 level, the volume consists of six pieces; listen and get your copy here.
For Beginners to Advanced:
Piano Notes are published by Rhinegold Music and produced in conjunction with the Music Teacher Magazine and International Piano Magazine. It’s essentially a guide to assist piano teachers whilst they prepare students for the ABRSM (Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music) piano exams; this recently published volume features Grades 1 to 8 of the new 2015/16 syllabus. It contains information on every piano piece for each grade, including all those on the alternative lists, and there are plenty of useful practice ideas on offer. Piano Notes have been written by a whole team of piano writers; Murray McLachlan, Michael Round, Katharine May, Fiona Lau and myself.
Although not strictly a piano resource, this is an excellent concept, and music theory is a crucial part of learning to play (in my opinion). Sproutbeat is based in the US, and offers worksheets which are immediately downloadable on your iPad. There are more than 400 theory worksheets and games to download on Sproutbeat, with more added very week. You can try a free demo on the website and the Apps are available from the App Store. You can try up to 25 worksheets for free, and can find out lots more here.
Yes, there is even an App for those who like Hanon exercises! HanonPlus is not for everyone of course, but for those who enjoy practising studies and working at technique, this may be a useful App. It comes with 20 built-in exercises from Hanon Book 1 which students can practice in any major or minor key. Each one is listed by the fingers it aims to strengthen. It’s fully interactive and customizable, and suitable for beginners through to more advanced players. Be sure to practice with care, as studies such as Hanon can induce tension issues if practised incorrectly. Click here for more information.
The iPad Piano Studio
A unique ‘hybrid’ experience, American musician and teacher Leila Viss has created a one stop shop for piano teachers everywhere. Those new to using the iPad in their lessons will benefit from instructions and copious ideas about how to incorporate technology into piano lessons. Leila has combined print and digital editions with a website and blog, fostering a completely interactive concept, and her love and enthusiasm for the iPad is infectious.
Playful Talk Show with Yana Reznik
A new kind of classical music show held at PianoForte Studios in Chicago. This live show will be simultaneously broadcast online. Russian-born pianist Yana Reznik, leads intimate discussions with the world’s renowned artists about their experiences on stage and behind the scenes. Guests then join Yana in music making, either prepared classical works or improvisations. For the first time, both live and internet audiences will really get to know the men and women behind the music in a fun, spontaneous way. Audience members are encouraged to ask questions via Twitter (@playfultalk), which will be answered selectively after the performances. The first show will be broadcast on Tuesday February 17th at 7pm CST.
Beethoven Piano Society of Europe
This popular Society is about to be completely revamped under the tutelage of pianist and composer Julian Jacobson, who has just been appointed Chairman. Julian is introducing a new concert series and other initiatives, including a chamber music project. At present, the Society runs three annual competitions, but there are plans to develop links with Beethoven organisations around the world, linking with various conservatoires and festivals. Membership is only £20 annually for full members, £25 joint (two people at same address), £25 outside Europe. Student membership is only £7! There is also a special rate of £15 for EPTA and ISM members, and a Single Life Membership rate of £150.
European Piano Teachers Association (EPTA)
The European Piano Teachers Association, UK was founded in 1978 by Carola Grindea, who also founded a Europe-wide coordinating body, EPTA. EPTA now has Associations in almost every European country, and an International Conference of all EPTA Associations is held in a different country each year. The aims of EPTA UK are to promote excellence in piano teaching and performance, to bring teachers and performers together and to raise standards within the profession. This superb organisation offers many benefits for members, including publications, copious events, conferences and courses.
For much more information about how to practice piano repertoire, take a look at my piano course, Play it again: PIANO (published by Schott Music). Covering a huge array of styles and genres, the course features a large collection of progressive, graded piano repertoire from approximately Grade 1 to advanced diploma level, with copious 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.