Recommended Piano Resources for Spring 2017

I haven’t posted a recommended resource list for a while, but hopefully today’s group of piano related publications and courses will be of interest. As always, there’s plenty for piano aficionados of all levels and abilities, from collections and compilations to new concert studies for the virtuoso pianist, and several inspiring piano courses set in sumptuous scenery. Competition giveaways of some of those resources mentioned here will be coming soon. Enjoy!


Elementary/Early Intermediate

Play it again: PIANO – Book 1

This is a two-book piano course published by Schott Music and written by me. Book 1 will be available from April 3rd 2017 (Book 2 is scheduled to be published in June). Designed 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. Book 1 features twenty-eight selected pieces from approximately grades 1 – 5 standard. Each section contains seven piano pieces, and they are categorised as Elementary (grades 1 – 2 level), Late Elementary (grades 2 – 3), Early Intermediate (grades 3 – 4), and Intermediate (grades 4 – 5). I have included a huge array of genres from Baroque music through to rock, jazz and improvisation; each level includes an arrangement and a technical study. Every piece has two pages of practice tips and suggestions, with photos, diagrams and musical examples. You can find out more and watch taster videos here, and purchase your copy here.

Diversions Book 1 & 2

Two volumes for late elementary students written by Spanish composer Juan Cabeza and published by Piano Safari. Diversions Book 1 and Book 2 contain a collection of 42 patterned etudes for piano. Each etude focuses on a single technical pattern encountered by students in the early stages of piano study, including scales, arpeggios, chords, repeated notes, intervals, and other common pianistic patterns. The patterned structures make it easy for students to decode and understand the music. Most of the pieces are transposable allowing students to assimilate each concept thoroughly. These works range in difficulty from elementary to early intermediate level. I really like Juan’s music and I know young players (and teachers) will enjoy using these pieces in both lessons and concerts. Find out more and purchase here.

48 Easy Concert Pieces

A collection of concert pieces in progressive order from fairly elementary to intermediate level.  According to publishers, Schott Music, ‘These pieces are intended to complement a piano tutorial method and are particularly suitable for performance at auditions, concerts, competitions and examinations.’ They offer totally varied repertoire in a broad selection of pieces from the Baroque, Classical, Romantic and Modern periods. It’s always useful to have compilations such as this, whether you’re a teacher or student, and this volume would make ideal sight-reading material too. The publication includes works by; Petzold, Dandrieu, Handel, J.S Bach, Haydn, Vanhall, W. A. Mozart, Beethoven and many more. Purchase your copy here.

Intermediate

The Entertainer

A new volume in the Pianissimo collection published by Schott Music; 100 entertaining pieces are suitable for intermediate players, and contain much-loved favourites such as The Entertainer, the soundtrack from Amélie, My Heart Will Go On from Titanic, Memories from Cats, My Way by Frank Sinatra, amongst others. ‘Classical Highlights’ feature Mozart’s Turkish March, Wagner’s famous Bridal Chorus, Brahms’ Hungarian Dance No. 5. ‘Song Highlights’ contain catchy tunes from the areas of blues, gospel, and folk music, like Oh Happy Day, Down By The Riverside or Matilda.  A mixture of original pieces and arrangements, there’s definitely something for everyone here! Buy your copy and find out more by clicking here.

Intermediate/ Advanced

Film Themes: The Piano Collection

Film Themes: The Piano Collection, published by Faber Music, contains thirty sympathetically arranged classic yet contemporary, and ‘up to the minute’ pieces for the intermediate to advanced player. Featuring favourites from such films as Star Wars, Frozen, Hunger Games, How To Train Your Dragon and Twilight, plus several pieces from the Harry Potter film series and “Mia and Sebastian’s Theme” from the acclaimed new movie La La Land.  This selection offers an excellent alternative to standard repertoire, particularly for the film buff, and I know my advanced students would love this volume as a fun alternative to traditional sight-reading material. A great addition to the student, teacher and piano lover’s library. Purchase your copy here.

Eastern Preludes

Not necessarily a new publication, but one which must be included on this list. Eastern Preludes (published by Boosey & Hawkes) are a collection of intermediate to advanced level pieces written by the outstanding educational British composer, Christopher Norton. No doubt inspired by the composer’s many visits to the East, they are sure to be favourites amongst those who seek alternative repertoire between exams or different concert repertoire material. Each one explores the rich musical landscape of the East weaving native themes from countries including China, India, Japan, Korea, and Thailand with the composer’s characteristically attractive, popular style. A useful accompanying CD features each work, and has been beautifully recorded by pianist Iain Farrington. I enjoyed exploring these pieces; they are comfortable to play and perfect for those who like to delve into various atmospheric sound worlds. Find out more and buy your copy here.

Advanced

La La Land

The music from the new hit movie. Those who loved the film will surely appreciate this piano assortment of ten numbers, published by Faber Music.  The romantic musical comedy-drama film has now won six Oscars, seven Golden Globes and six BAFTAs. Written by Justin Hurwitz, Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, this excellent selection have all been transcribed for piano and voice with guitar chords, following the original music and keys as closely as possible. I would suggest the arrangements are generally for advanced pianists, but some are simpler, and may be suitable for those of intermediate (roughly grades 4 – 6) level. You can purchase your copy and find out more here.

Birds; Études Tableaux for piano

A new set of advanced concert studies (Grade 8 – diploma) by British writer and composer Andrew Higgins. Published by EVC Music Publications, each piece focuses on a different bird; Penguins (a study in bi-tonality and chromatics), is described by the composer as ‘a polytonal life of joie de vivre and exuberance on the one hand, and clownish clumsiness on the other’. This is followed by A Wise Old Owl (a study in control and tempo), The Swan (a study for three against twos), Albatross (a study in three-part playing), Hummingbirds (a study in flexible rhythms and rubato), and Lovebirds (a study in improvisation). All good fun and very useful for technical development. You can listen to each piece, purchase your copy and find out more here.

Alberto Ginastera in Switzerland

This new anthology (published by Boosey & Hawkes) explores the late works and life of the Argentinian composer. In 1971, Alberto Ginastera (1916–1983) relocated to Geneva to make a fresh start with Aurora Natola, an Argentinian cellist resident in Switzerland. This volume was published on the occasion of the first centenary of the composer’s birth, and the Paul Sacher Foundation seeks to retrace the previously little-known late phase of Ginastera’s life and works. Featuring six essays illuminating different facets of his late years on the basis of the surviving manuscripts, letters, and other records, this publication is a fascinating historical document and selection of piano pieces. Find out more and purchase here.

Piano Courses

Almalfi Coast Music & Arts Festival

This piano course has it all: an illustrious faculty and a plethora of performance opportunities, set in gorgeous Italian scenery. Launched in 1996, the Amalfi Coast Music & Arts Festival welcomes students and guests from all over the world for a month-long array of events. The festival celebrates its 22nd anniversary season in 2017. The piano programme runs from July 14th – 26th, with a myriad of activities on offer for pianists including individual lessons, daily master classes, workshops, and the opportunity to perform in institute recitals. The faculty includes Ian Jones (Royal College of Music), Boris Berman (Yale School of Music), Jerome Lowenthal (Juilliard School), Ursula Oppens (Brooklyn College & CUNY Graduate Center), and Steven Spooner (University of Kansas), plus many more. Find out about it and apply here.

PIANO WEEK

Organised by British concert pianist Samantha Ward, this non-residential full-time piano course and festival is set in spectacular Italian surroundings. It’s one of a whole series run in various parts of the world throughout the year, offering students lessons, performance opportunities, sight-reading classes, composition and music theory classes, plus time to practice and the opportunity to attend all faculty recitals and master classes. The upcoming course takes place in beautiful Foligno, and there are still a few places available. The faculty includes Samantha Ward, Maciej Raginia, Roberto Russo, and Mark Nixon. Running from 20th – 23rd April 2017, you can apply to attend or participate, and enjoy the new promotional video 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.


 

 

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Recommended Piano Resources for November 2016

Badge Graphics Draft 3In the run up to Christmas, many of us are on the lookout for gift ideas for friends, family, piano teachers, students and piano lovers everywhere. I hope this fairly substantial selection will inspire a host of piano related shopping. As usual, there’s something to interest all levels. I’ve made a few exciting composer discoveries (which is always fun); today’s list features a historical novel, a new piano method, a practice notebook, a Children’s piano concerto, and new compilations, as well as publications from our favourite publishers. Enjoy!

Beginners/Elementary

Piano Junior

ed_13801-heumann_648_This new method published by Schott Music consists of a series of books (8 books in total) and has been written by German pedagogue and composer, Hans-Günter Heumann. I was a consultant on this method, and it has been exciting to see the finished product. PJ is a robot who is the main ‘character’ (he has a friend called ‘Mozart’ the dog too!) in this tutor series for youngsters (age 6 and above). Piano Junior is designed as a ‘fun and interactive’ piano method, starting with black notes, employing innovative, user-friendly graphic notation before introducing white notes, traditional staves, clefs and time signatures. In addition to each book, there is also extra material on the website, which includes videos, audio demos and play-alongs for all the pieces, as well as downloadable rhythm checks, workouts, sight-reading exercises and other resources. Find out much more here and purchase here.

My Practice Palette

my-practice-palette-coverWritten by British teacher Roberta Wolff, this book can be enjoyed in paperback or e-book version and is designed to assist students and teachers in their quest for effective practising. My Practice Palette  is essentially a notebook which aims to educate parents, teaches, and students about how to practise while eliminating the need for teachers to write practice notes. This is done by teaching practice methodology and metacognition. Roberta recommends using My Practice Palette from grades 1-5. Teachers can also work through the Practice Palette during lesson time. The benefits of this are, no extra time is required for planning, and teachers can be spontaneous yet easily keep track of a student’s progress. It’s certainly a colourful volume and would no doubt encourage those who might otherwise find practising dull. Find out more and get your copy here.

14 Easy Pieces for Piano

lane_richard_14_easy_pieces_for_piano_pno73American composer Richard Lane (1933 – 2014) has written a group of charming little pieces for those of around Grade 1 level (ABRSM). I discovered Richard’s music through the ABRSM list C pieces (for 2017/8), whilst writing the Piano Notes series (due to be published by Rhinegold in January). These works, which are published by Swiss publisher BIM Editions, are tuneful, attractive and all feature particular technical elements (important for teaching repertoire). Duets, an arrangement and original pieces all feature in this volume. Find out more and purchase here.

Piano Star

9781848499249This is a new series published by the British examination board, ABRSM, for beginners (or for those up to prep test level). There are three books in the series, each containing new arrangements and original pieces written by a host of different composers and teachers, all associated with the popular British exam board. The volumes include solo pieces and duets, offer a mix of styles, plus fun extension activities and plenty of illustrations. There are 74 pieces in total, written by 20 composers including Christopher Norton, Paul Harris, Mark Tanner and Mike Cornick, and children will love the tuneful simplicity of the pieces; this is certainly useful teaching material. Find out more and purchase here.

Intermediate

Piano Concerto No. 1 For Children

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An interesting discovery, written in 1993 by Russian composer Ilia Chkolnik and published by BIM Editions, in their Junior Series. Piano concertos written solely for children are becoming increasingly popular, with many, particularly Russian composers, highlighting this potential gap in the market. This score has an orchestral reduction (or second piano part), and at first glance, could be mistaken for advanced level. However, it consists of idiomatic, essentially tonal writing and lasts just 11 minutes. There are three movements, two fast outer sections, and a beautiful slow movement, which reminds me of Shostakovich’s Second Concerto in F major Op. 102. Teachers looking for varied contemporary repertoire will enjoy this piece. To hear, find out more and purchase, click here.

Intermediate to Advanced

My First Chopin

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A new publication from Schott Music, compiled by German pianist and pedagogue, Wilhelm Ohman. This collection of 20 pieces lies well within the capabilities of the advanced player, and contains some of Chopin’s best-loved works including a group of Preludes, Waltzes, Mazurkas and Nocturnes. These genres are popular amongst students, and with the Raindrop Prelude Op. 28 No. 15, Prelude in B minor Op. 28 No. 6, Waltz in B minor Op. posth. 69 No. 2, Mazurka in B flat major Op. 7 No. 1, Nocturne in C sharp minor No. 20 Op. posth., Funeral March (from Sonata No. 2 in B flat minor Op. 35), to name a few favourites. An excellent addition to any student’s library. Find out more and purchase here.

The Piano Playlist

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A large selection of 50 popular classical pieces arranged by British arranger and editor Barrie Carson Turner, and published by Schott Music. Arrangements have always been a favourite with pianists, and this offers a comprehensive list of music across several centuries, all transcribed for intermediate up to advanced players. From opera arias (Habanera from Carmen by Bizet, Nessun Dorma from Turandot, and O Mio Babbino Caro from Gianni Schicchi both by Puccini), to ballet numbers, famous gems from orchestral works (Ode to Joy (Beethoven), The Swan (Saint-Saëns), Adagietto (Mahler’s 4th Symphony)), to piano concertos, instrumental music and  arrangements of piano pieces. My choice piece is When I am Laid in Earth from Dido and Aeneas by Purcell. This is a beneficial volume for those wanting to discover some of the best-loved works in the Classical repertoire. It would also serve as excellent sight-reading material. Find out more and purchase here.

The Ultimate Easy Piano Songlist

e20016ac-d186-4c15-a350-c7c3873fd590A new publication from Faber Music. Containing 45 arrangements of best selling songs, this will please those who enjoy a wide variety of pop and easy listening music. Numbers from artists such as Adele, Cilla Black, Cole Porter, Ella Fitzgerald, Chris Rea, Michael Buble, Eagles, One Direction, Wham!, Nina Simone, Muse, Vera Lynn, David Bowie, Justin Beiber, Jamie Cullum, and Radiohead, to name a few. This is designated ‘Easy Piano’ but few elementary pianists will manage these arrangements; I would suggest intermediate level as minimum. Complete with lyrics and chord indications, this is a lovely volume, and would make a perfect stocking filler! Find out more and purchase here.

Piano Collection by Jevdet Hajiyev

indexThe first book of a special centenary edition of selected piano works inspired by Azerbaijani traditional music, written by Azerbaijani composer, Jevdet Hajiyev (1917 – 2002). This volume is published by EVC Music Publications, in a project commissioned by the Muradov family archive. For intermediate to advanced level players, this book will be a useful addition to any piano teacher, advanced student or keen amateur’s piano library. With the expected Russian inflections, this music is generally tonal but with a direct influence of Twentieth Century masters such as Prokofiev and Shostakovich (Jevdet Hajiyev’s teacher). Some pieces are short (such as those from Musical Sketches), whilst the Scherzo and Sonata are more substantial. Listen to the music, find out more and get a copy here.  

Online

Flowkey

flowkeyFlowkey is a piano learning-app geared for all levels, whether beginner or advanced. It’s also a useful music education tool for parents, teachers, and adult learners, as it’s easy to get started. A wide spectrum of music is covered, from classical music to pop songs. You can apparently practice interactively and receive instant feedback; progress can be tracked and piano lessons are also on offer, in the form of various courses. Flowkey is partnered with Yamaha, and can be easily connected to digital pianos. Find out much more here.

Books

Ghost Variations

getattachmentthumbnailThis is the latest novel by British author, writer, and critic Jessica Duchen. Whilst not strictly focused on the piano, it is a very interesting musical tale. Jessica tells the true story of Hungarian-born violinist Jelly D’Aranyi’s quest to recover Robert Schumann’s forgotten violin concerto. It’s also the story of an aging woman in a world which is becoming progressively more hostile. Jelly negotiates her way through the changing world of 1930s London. War is ever-present, and the heroine has to come to terms with her fading powers and upcoming young stars such as Yehudi Menuhin. As a woman, she faces the ultimate decision, choosing between music or love.  Find out more here and buy your copy 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.


10 Top Recommended Piano Resources for July 2016

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Summer is upon us and this month’s selection of piano resources features a new online method, an exam syllabus, a useful App, and a new edition of an educational masterpiece. Hope you find them helpful.


Beginners and Elementary

Interactive Piano Method®

13575745_1648752375446722_3149223656312773678_oAmerican teacher, composer and arranger Carol Matz, has written an Interactive Piano Method®. It is a new and unique method which includes Lesson Books with directly corresponding online materials. Students can access the online activities on their own and get instant feedback on their answers. Each level includes a Lesson Book, Online Activities, PDF Downloads (Performance Pieces, Activity Sheets, Sight-Reading, etc.), as well as MP3 teacher duet accompaniments. The Lesson Book is also provided as a downloadable PDF which can be printed and/or used on a tablet (such as an iPad, etc.). The online activities can all be done on a computer or tablet and include ear training, theory, virtual flashcards, note spelling, and more. For a limited time, teachers can submit a request for a free level here, and you can find out more here.

Video Lessons from Hal Leonard

indexThe Hal Leonard video lessons are intended to complement the Hal Leonard student piano library. They are free and introduce pupils and teachers to the All-in-one piano lessons book. American Author Barbara Kreader (one of four authors who co-wrote this series of books) presents each video, often working with one of her students. There are twelve videos in this mini series, lasting around 5 minutes each. They are correlated to specific pages and pieces within the first book and will no doubt be very beneficial to all those who use or are considering using this method. Watch here.

Technical Exercises and Rote Pieces

Tech-Rote-Book-Cover-1024x796The Technical Exercises & Rote Pieces book, published as part of the Piano Safari method series written by Katherine Fisher and Dr. Julie Knerr, is designed to supplement any standard piano method. It contains pattern-based pieces and exercises designed to be taught by rote. Students are encouraged to regularly listen to the audio recording of each piece as they work through the book. As a result, their ears will already be accustomed to the style, articulation, tempo, phrasing, and dynamics necessary for musical performance. The audio recording is available as a CD or Digital Download. Find out more and purchase here.

Intermediate Level

Rock & Pop Studies

RockThis volume includes 80 progressive piano studies and exercises for all those interested in learning to play rock and pop. Published by Faber, and written by British authors Lucy Holliday and Oliver Weeks, each study within this book focuses on particular styles, exploring the various technical elements associated with them; syncopation, varying bass lines, gospel chord progressions, classic rock arpeggios, and twelve-bar blues are all featured. The styles covered include Motown, metal, the blues, soul, funk, ska, reggae, disco, country, indie, dance, classic rock, and synth pop. There are practice tips for every exercise with many suggested further listening ideas too. This publication would suit a pianist approaching intermediate level (Grade 4-5). Find out much more here.

Sheets Zwei

005007d2-62b1-473e-9821-88c5c341d756Sheets Zwei is the second in a series of bespoke art music books by the German composer and performer, Nils Frahm, published just this week by Manners McDade. Featured artwork, by his father Klaus Frahm, comes from a series of photographs of barns, abandoned buildings and other rural artifacts taken in Portugal during Nils’ childhood. Containing ten of Nils’ piano works, the volume also includes some simple ideas to transform any piano into a Una Corda (similar to a prepared piano), the piano commissioned by Nils from master piano builder, David Klavins. An easy listening, Minimalist style which is sure to appeal intermediate level players everywhere. Find out much more here.

From Elementary to Advanced

ABRSM New Piano Syllabus

Piano Exam Pieces 2017 & 2018, non-CD editionThe ABSRM (Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music), the British music examination board, have just published their new piano exam syllabus for 2017-2018. Released just this weekend, the books (8 in all) each contain a selection of nine pieces from Grades 1 to 7 and 12 pieces at Grade 8, covering lists A, B & C. Meticulously edited and presented, these volumes comprise a rich and very varied repertoire from which to create an interesting, diverse programme for an exam or concert. Each volume includes helpful footnotes and syllabus information, and can be purchased as a book only or a book & CD package. The recordings are also available as downloads here.  Even if you’re not planning to take an ABRSM piano exam, the selected repertoire can be a great way to get to know new repertoire. Find out more here.

Mikrokosmos

ut50411.141030As a committed Bartók lover, I’m a huge fan of this wonderful pedagogical masterpiece which has just been republished in a new edition. Béla Bartók’s Mikrokosmos is available in three volumes published by Wiener Urtext. Together these volumes cover all the ABRSM graded levels (from grade 1 to grade 8) and this makes them indispensable for piano students. They give an all rounded technique for players of virtually any standard. They also contain several additional pieces published for the first time, and include useful notes on study and interpretation, with a glossary of expression markings in several languages. For further information and a video please click here.

Online

Newzik

GetAttachmentThumbnailNewzik is a universal sheet music reader app available for the iPad & iPhone.  It allows musicians to manage, read and annotate all musical scores with ease. All the sheets, tabs, chords, audio & midi files or videos can be accumulated, stored and organized in a single tablet. You can turn pages automatically with a hands free Bluetooth foot pedal too. For more information click here. Watch the demo video here, or try it for free here.

Festivals

Around the Globe Piano Music Festival

GlobeAround the Globe Piano Festival is a competitive festival held in London in November 2016, aspiring to promote worldwide classical and contemporary music. The aim is to encourage students of all ages to learn new repertoire in various styles including contemporary and jazz music. Selected works include a wide range of piano music from around the world, much of which is not regularly performed, contributing to our multicultural British society. To obtain a brochure, enter the festival and find out more, click here.

Competitions

NTD International piano competition

10557537_306949402817928_459061284752850702_oFor piano competition lovers, the 4th NTD International Piano Competition will be taking place from Sept. 30 – Oct. 2, 2016 in New York. The Competition will consist of one qualification round and three live competition rounds: Preliminary, Semifinal, and Final. Pianists aged between 16 to 48 are encouraged to apply. Gold, Silver, and Bronze prize winners (maximum prize $10,000) will also receive professional recording and concert opportunities. The event will be broadcast on television and online, hosted by New Tang Dynasty (NTD) Television. You can apply Online by July 31, 2016. Find out more here, or e-mail for more information here: piano@globalcompetitions.org


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.


 

Recommended Piano Resources for June 2016

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Another month is upon us, although we have yet to see much of the Summer here, as it’s been freezing this week in the UK! I’ve really enjoyed writing about June’s suggested piano resources; there’s a mix of new Contemporary and older more familiar educational piano music. Whether you’re a teacher, student or piano lover, I hope you find these recommendations of interest.


Beginners and Elementary

Piano Magic

Piano Magic CoverMy little piano pieces were published at the end of May – and I couldn’t leave them out of this month’s resources list, could I!? Piano Magic is part of the Piano for Fun series published by EVC Music Publications Ltd., and consists of 10 pieces for the elementary player (Grade 1-2 ABRSM exam level), and they are essentially designed for the young pianist (although older players may like them too!). Each piece evokes a fantasy world of witches, wizards, ghosts and fairies, and they also address various aspects of technique such as staccato, syncopation, the sustaining pedal, quick coordination between the hands, and complete use of the whole keyboard. You can listen to the pieces here and purchase them here.

Easy Jazzin’ About The Year

JazzinA new publication in this highly successful series by popular British composer Pamela Wedgwood, published by Faber Music. Suitable for either keyboard or piano, and ranging in level from around Grade 1 (ABRSM exam) or Elementary standard to approximately Grade 3 level (early intermediate), these pieces are bound to be a hit with young (and older) pianists everywhere. The volume includes a mixture of original and favourite pieces all on various themes such as Christmas, Halloween, Bonfire Night, Festivals and Holidays. An accompanying CD with a demo track for every tune will no doubt be a helpful addition. Find out more and purchase here.

Intermediate

Grooves for Piano Dudes

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An interesting and definitely ‘cool’ collection of modern style pieces from British composer Heather Hammond, published by EVC Music Publications Ltd. This volume contains 11 pieces for intermediate players (between Grades 4-6 ABRSM) and would provide a welcome break or ‘alternative’ repertoire choice for teenagers between taking piano exams. Adult learners will also find much to enjoy here too; the works are energetic, lively, dramatic, and are sure to inspire students. Jazz, rock, ragtime, blues & boogie grooves are guaranteed to get feet tapping and fingers flying. You can listen to some of the pieces and purchase the book here.

12 Piazzolla Tangos for Easy Piano

TangosThese lovely little works, written by Argentine composer Astor Piazzolla (1921 – 1992), have been arranged by Rachel Chapin, and published by Boosey and Hawkes. They contain all the expected tango inflections, incorporated alongside elements of classical music and jazz. The works would suit those of Grades 3 – 5 (ABRSM), and also provide excellent sight-reading material for more advanced players. The selection ranges from Libertango and Milonga for Three, to Vuelvo al Sur and Sin Rumbo. You can find out more and purchase here.

 Celebration Suite

RocherolleCelebration Suite is a new set of original duets (one piano, four hands), written by American composer Eugénie Rocherolle and published by Hal Leonard. The volume contains three duets; Across the Years, In Defense of Liberty and Journey in Space, and would be suitable for intermediate level players (around Grades 3-5 ABRSM). Also containing performance notes, these pieces are ideal for concerts or festivals. I’ve enjoyed discovering Eugénie’s work over the past few months and am sure students will find much to inspire here. You can find out more here.

A Hebrides Suite

A-Hebrides-Suite-Piano-Donald-Thomson-768x1077A new group of 5 piano pieces by British composer Donald Thomson, published by EVC Music Publications Ltd. Inspired by trips to The Hebrides (a large collection of islands off the West Coast of Scotland). These islands are beautiful, wild, windswept places, battered by the Atlantic ocean and supporting a wide range of wildlife –  otters, seals, and important colonies of seabirds such as puffins. A Hebrides Suite takes some of the musical styles and inspiration from the islands themselves, and weaves them into a delightful set which have a real Scottish flavour; the book forms part of the Celtic piano series. Find out more and order your copy here.

Late Intermediate and Advanced

Mindfulness: the piano collection

MindfulnessPublished by Faber Music, this new anthology of 20 piano pieces has been selected specifically to promote calm, tranquility and reflection. Mindfulness ‘is a simple practice of meditation that is proven to break the cycle of unhappiness, alleviate stress, and anxiety and help people find their way’; this collection concurs with this sentiment, and offers a truly meditative quality featuring piano favourites such as Satie’s Gnossienne No. 1, I Giorni (Einaudi), Pavane Op. 50 (Faure), Rêverie (Debussy), and Prelude in E minor (Chopin). Some pieces are original whilst others, arrangements; works by Dame Evelyn Glennie and Howard Goodall rub shoulders with J S Bach and Alexander Scriabin, providing an electic mix, great for late intermediate and advanced (Grades 6-8) players. Find out more and order your copy here.

Piano Village

Piano VillageThis selection of original compositions has been written by Australian composer Elena Kats-Chernin and published by Boosey and Hawkes. Consisting of 25 works, this generous volume takes us on a journey from the composer’s homeland (Kats-Chernin was born in Tashkent), where she remarks that she spent most of her time playing and improvising on her piano; ‘My piano works are sometimes a little like diary entires for me. Many of them written in a single day’. The pieces range in difficulty, but are generally for more advanced players, and are often highly rhythmic, patterned and Minimalist in style. As a lover of this genre, I must add that I thoroughly enjoyed listening and playing through many pieces in this volume. Highly recommended. To find out more, hear some the pieces and purchase your copy, click here.

The Virtuoso Pianist

HanonThis collection of 60 studies written by French composer Charles-Louis Hanon has been newly published by Schott Music, and are occasionally viewed as a controversial set of piano studies. Rather like Marmite, you either love them or hate them! However, if practised carefully and with real purpose, these famous finger training exercises can be very beneficial and have helped pianists the world over to improve finger strength, dexterity and independence. Schott’s clear notation and modernized texts will no doubt prove crucial when practising. Find out more and purchase 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.


 

Recommended Piano Resources for May 2016

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Wishing you all a fabulous May Bank Holiday Weekend. May’s resources prove to be another interesting crop of piano music, an anthology, online resources and a course. I hope you find something of interest, whether you are a teacher, student or piano lover.

Beginner/Elementary

The Lady Bug Game

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A newly revised resource from Susan Paradis’ Piano Teaching Resources. US piano teacher Susan Paradis owns a very popular blog which is a treasure trove of teaching resources for piano teachers with young pupils. She devises copious games, all encouraging youngsters to learn easily and swiftly. This game is designed to help pupils negotiate the music alphabet, recognize notes on the stave or keys on the piano keyboard, and to reinforce intervals or skips. It’s fast and fun, and is especially useful for beginners. You can find out much more here.

Black & White Blues

Black-White-Blues-by-Olly-Wedgwood-768x1077Black & White Blues, written by UK composer Olly Wedgwood (published last week by EVC Music Publications Ltd) is a classic twelve bar slow blues in the key of C, written for pianists at about grade 2 ABRSM or AMEB standard.  As its name suggests, there are a myriad of chromatic moments throughout. The right hand melody is echoed by the left hand in the second half with plenty of hand crossing action during the closing bars. Black & White Blues comes with a bluesy play-along backing track to enjoy, once you’ve got the hang of it! Hear this piece and purchase here.

Intermediate

Loch Ness Quest

loch nessLoch Ness Quest is the latest piano composition from US composer and teacher, Wendy Stevens. Ness Quest is a dramatic, intermediate piano piece. It’s full of adventure, fun to play and uses the entire keyboard, which intermediate students always find interesting and attractive. This piece comes from a set of “dangerous piano pieces” that have ‘mysteriously’ emerged from the ComposeCreate library (Wendy’s company), and is designed to engage the contemporary tastes of pre-teens and teenaged students.  You can hear Ness Quest, find out more and order here.

Relax with Series

WardA new anthology of books, published by Schott Music, and edited by British concert pianist Samantha Ward. The Relax With Series is intended primarily to be played at home, simply for pleasure. The pieces have been selected for their relaxing qualities, and in this volume range from well-known classics to delightful lesser-known gems. Featuring arrangements of traditional pieces from around the world, the collection is of easy/intermediate level so a competent amateur pianist will have little difficulty in mastering them. Also in the series; Relax with French Impressionist Piano, Relax with Classical Piano, Relax with Romantic Piano and Relax with Baroque Piano. You can find out much more here.

Mirrors

Mirrors-for-Piano-by-Sam-Wedgwood-1-768x1077For those desiring something different, why not try Mirrors by Sam Wedgewood (who, like Olly Wedgwood, is the son of very popular composer Pamela Wedgwood). Published by EVC Music Publications Ltd, this work has an ethereal, emotional quality, perfect for those who enjoy reflective music. For intermediate level, it could be considered pop/R&B genre, and comes with two play along tracks. Find out more, hear and purchase here.

Books

You Can Read Music

You can read musicI discovered this book relatively recently, but it was written in 2014, and is based on the Simultaneous Learning concept devised by the highly respected British writer and composer Paul Harris, and published by Faber Music. You Can Read Music is a practical workbook for anyone who has ever wanted to read music notation. Ideal for those new to reading music, students learning to sing or play an instrument, as well as classroom teachers and choral singers wanting to improve their skills. By the end of this book you will be able to read and understand music notation, and you don’t even need a musical instrument. It is accompanied by a useful audio CD too. Buy your copy here.

Online

Pianist Magazine

600Pianist has, this week, won the Digital Publication of the Year 2016 award, providing the ideal moment to remind readers all around the world, of the digital version of this excellent publication. Whilst published in the UK, you can enjoy everything this magazine has to offer in the digital version. Featuring many ‘how to play’ articles (one written by me!), master classes from expert teachers, piano articles, an interview with a celebrated pianist, competitions, over forty pages of free sheet music, and much more, in every bi-monthly edition. You can download the app for free and enjoy a free sample issue too. Available as an App on iPad and iPhone, or as a digital edition on your computer, from the App Store or Google Chrome. Find out lots more here. You can also subscribe to the print version here.

One Year Piano Practice Planner

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Devised by US piano teacher Catherine Shefski, this one-year piano practice planner helps you create a disciplined and effective plan to track your progress towards your weekly, monthly and yearly musical goals. Whether you’re preparing for a recital, audition, or competition, or you simply want to finish learning a piece, this planner will keep you moving ahead. With plenty of space to write  whatever you feel  necessary to keep your motivated, this calendar serves as both a journal and a practice schedule. The piano practice planner is set up with blank months so that you can start using it any month of any year. Find out much more and purchase here.

 Courses

Piano Safari Summer Institute

Safari coursePiano Safari have created a special course for those wanting to learn more about their piano method. This series of workshops will be held at Ohio University Music School (pictured above), in Athens, Ohio, US, from June 23rd to 24th. The event will be held in conjunction with Ohio University Piano Pedagogy Seminar and the OHIO International Piano Duet & Duo Competition, featuring the Anderson & Roe Piano Duo. It will provide a Piano Safari overview, the essentials of technique for beginners, foundations of musical literacy (rote teaching and the development of artistry, reading and rhythm), and teaching strategies. You can find out much more here.



 

Recommended Piano Resources for March 2016

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As March draws to a close, here’s a round-up of useful piano resources. Hopefully there’s something for everyone including a new piano method, a sight-reading collection, piano pieces, as well as a tempting piano course and an inaugural piano festival. Enjoy!


Beginner/Elementary

Lang Lang Piano Method

Lang LangNew to the market this month, the Lang Lang Piano Method (published by Faber Music), consists of five volumes and is designed to take youngsters from the very beginning to around Grade 1 level (ABRSM exams). The brightly coloured publications feature a cartoon character of the Chinese concert pianist Lang Lang, and take beginners (the method is aimed at those between the ages of 5 – 10 years) on a journey of piano discovery.  Musicianship is developed through theory quizzes and games, as well as the chance to hear Lang Lang playing a range of piano repertoire. The books are accompanied by online audio tracks, including performances of the concert pieces by the popular piano star himself. Find out more here and purchase copies here.

Funkey!

Funkey

Banishing onerous sight-reading tests will be simple courtesy of this series! Written by British teacher Lindsey Berwin and published by Kevin Mayhew, the set consists of five books, and level 1 begins at approximately Grade 1 ABRSM standard. Each short piece is designed to develop a students awareness of key. A variety of styles have been implemented including rock, swing and latin, and the books have a useful accompanying CD. These publications will ideally help pupils to incorporate regular practice in this area, improving rhythmic awareness and crucially, the ability to play fluently. I encourage my students to obtain many different sight-reading books within each exam grade (irrespective of which they plan to prepare for), therefore a series such as this will be most beneficial. Get your copies here.

Intermediate

Spinning Sky

Spinning-Sky-for-piano-by-Aleksandra-Vilcinska-768x1077

Spinning Sky for piano, written by Russian composer Aleksandra Vilcinska (featured on the cover) consists of a tuneful, wistful melody evoking hopes, dreams and happiness. Published just last month by EVC Music Publications Ltd. Spinning Sky is a beautifully balanced piece to add to a teenage student’s repertoire, particularly those who enjoy the ‘new age’ genre. Suitable for students at Intermediate level (or Grades 5-6 ABRSM standard). Listen to the piece and get your copy here.

8 Children’s Pieces for Piano

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Celebrated British composer Malcolm Arnold‘s highly evocative and colourful 8 Children’s Pieces for Piano have been republished in a new edition by Queen’s Temple Publications. They range in difficulty from about Grades 2 – 6, and represent a wonderful set of imaginative and fun pieces to learn, play and perform. Melodious, often dramatic, and with interesting and occasionally unexpected harmonies, they are audience and young pianist friendly. Titles include Dancing Tune, Two Sad Hands, Across the Plains and The Buccaneer. You can find out more and purchase your copy here.

Intermediate/Advanced

Piano Kaleidoscope

Baerenreiter Kaleidoscope V11 Front

This new volume, published by German publisher, Barenreiter, is a special edition; a mix of classics at an affordable price, featuring a cross-section of Bärenreiter’s extensive piano catalogue. The pieces and movements range from the 18th century through to the first decades of the 20th century.  Fifteen composers are represented in this edition, from J S Bach and Schubert through to Debussy, Satie and Smetana. The pieces also vary in national style and are fairly wide-ranging in terms of technical difficulty, although many are intermediate (grades 5 – 6) level. You can find out more and order your copy here.

Online

TomBooks

newsletter-enTomBooks is a new type of e-book combining text, images and audio content in an innovative manner. The goal of these books is to ‘immerse the reader in a world of culture, music and art through an interactive, multi-sensory approach’. TomBooks’ first editions are dedicated to music and painting: biographies of composers, interactive music scores, galleries and games linked to painting, and books dedicated to works of art.  The majority of the books involve a dedicated network allowing readers to communicate with each other by means of a platform created for each book. The piano music ranges from pop and musical theatre, to classical and film music, and various accompaniments are also available. You can explore the piano music here.

Courses

The Miami International Piano Festival Academy

Miami

This course offers an intensive summer programme designed to explore the Art of Piano Playing. Distinguished teacher Giselle Brodsky is artistic director of this three week session, which takes place from July 3rd – 24th 2016 in Miami. The Academy provides pianists with the opportunity to take part in intensive private and open lessons with international master artists and teachers. There will be opportunities to participate in technique clinics, enjoy discussions with the faculty, and explore the world of different composers and specific repertoire, as well as learn  to improvise, strengthening skills as performers. You can find out much more here.

Festivals

London Piano Festival

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I enjoy spotlighting new piano festivals and this one looks most innovative. The London Piano Festival takes place at King’s Place in London in October 2016, and has been created by pianists Katya Apekisheva and Charles Owen. Their shared love of the instrument has initiated this weekend especially for the city’s many piano lovers. The music will range from Bach, Busoni and Rachmaninoff through to Messiaen and Piazzolla. A particular highlight will be the world premiere of a new two-piano work by the American composer Nico Muhly. performers include Alfred Brendel, Kathryn Stott, Noriko Ogawa, Julian Joseph, Stephen Kovacevich as well as Katya and Charles. You can find out much more 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.


Recommended Piano Resources for February 2016

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It has certainly been a busy few days for me, and visiting the Music Education Expo event (held at Olympia in London) last week was fascinating. I discovered a whole raft of new piano resources and materials, and met various composers, music educators and publishers. I will endeavour to include as many discoveries as possible in my monthly list over the coming months! Here is my round-up of practice ideas, sheet music, online resources and piano courses. I hope you enjoy reading.


Beginner/Elementary

Practice Starter Cards

CardsPaul HarrisSimultaneous Learning concept has proved highly successful, and the Practice Starter Cards, published by Faber Music, provide a fun and imaginative extension to this approach. Launched at the Music Education Expo event in London last week, they are great way to begin piano lessons (or any instrumental or vocal lesson). Simply select a card, and follow the instructions on the back, to create a variety of lesson activities. The cards focus on different elements, such as scales, aural, improvisation, rhythm and sight-reading, and each suggestion encourages students to think for themselves, making connections between all aspects of musical learning, as well as proffering an entertaining and creative addition to lessons. All levels could benefit, but especially elementary and intermediate. Find out more and purchase here.

A Pirate’s Escape

Piano Safari offer a very popular piano method and a variety of materials to supplement this, with many useful primary pieces which are excellent for beginners and elementary players. A Pirates Escape, written by Christopher and Katherine Fisher, is essentially a duet for teacher and pupil, and will appeal to young students. Considered a late elementary piece in the key of D minor, it features a hand over hand arpeggio, and a rather dramatic coda with harmonic fifths. You can listen to it and purchase here.

The Graded Piano Player

Graded playerThis new series seeks to offer pianists a wide range of popular tunes, written as effective arrangements within a graded framework, which is similar to that of the major exam boards. Published by Faber Music, this series extends to three progressive volumes, from approximately Grades 1 – 5. A collection of well-known tunes and songs arranged by Alan Bullard, Ned Bennett and others, the selection includes favourites by Disney, as well as TV, film, pop, folk, jazz and musical theatre numbers. Great for use between exams, or independent learning, as well as sight-reading for more advanced players. Children, teenagers, and adults will all find something to enjoy here, and these books will give teachers the opportunity to offer their pupils an alternative to classical pieces. You can purchase here.

Intermediate

Frost

frostThis piece, written by Jenni Pinnock and published in January 2016, effectively depicts the cold, biting sentiment. Serene and striking, Frost was inspired by the beautiful carpet of ice crystals left across the landscape. The composer writes, ‘although it may be a danger, it makes the world sparkle in a magical way, leaving glinting frosty spiders webs and icy plants for us to admire’. I enjoyed playing this piece through; it calls for atmospheric, evocative colours and would be perfect for those wishing to develop a larger tonal palette. You can listen to the piece and purchase a copy here.

Advanced

Peacock Grande Valse for Piano

Peacock

This advanced piano piece, written by British composer and publisher Elena Cobb, was published just last week, and consists of a tuneful, catchy melody. Reminiscent of the Romantic period,  and akin to a Salon style work, it contains some technical challenges for the pianist. Two Peacocks simultaneously ‘chat’, hence the interweaving of melodic lines. With double notes, octaves and rapid passagework in the right hand, and lots of movement around the keyboard, this piece will be enjoyed by many. The technical twists and turns all lie fairly comfortably under the hand. Listen and get your copy here.

London-Paris

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Russian pianist, teacher and composer, GéNIA, has written a collection of compositions which are a fusion of Classical crossover and Minimalism. The pieces have recently  been published as sheet music, and she performs them frequently around the country; they are also played regularly on Classic FM and in Cafe Nero. London-Paris is my favourite, and it was inspired by frequent trips taken on the Euro-Star to Paris, where the composer often works. You can listen to this piece and purchase GéNIA’s sheet music here.

Online

Online Piano Academy

Graham's pic 1 for blogPianist, teacher and writer, Graham Fitch is introducing a new Online Piano Academy. It is designed to be the complete resource for anyone learning to play the piano, irrespective of their level. Building on Graham’s e-book series and popular blog, Practising the Piano,  the Academy will be a comprehensive library of lessons, masterclasses and resources combined with insights from other leading experts. The Academy will be funded by an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign, and readers are invited to support and help shape the online resource. You can find out more here, and support the project here.

Musica Piano

HOME_main_logoThis is a new iPad app for classical music in scores, audio and video. Musica Piano offers free online access to copious classical music scores by Könemann Music Budapest and other publishers. This app comes with a whole collection of recordings by renowned artists in audio and in video. The recordings are synchronized with the scores, and are called Syntunes. The Könemann Music Budapest scores have been available in print since the 90s and have been academically edited mostly in Urtext quality.   The complete piano works of Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin, Bach, Haydn, Brahms, Skryabin, and many more, are at your disposal wherever you are, provided you are connected to the Internet!  You can register and find out more here.

Hoffmann Academy

HAOM-color-web-RGB-croppedThe Hoffman Academy is an online resource for parents and students, enabling them to access piano lessons from their homes. These lessons are 5 -10 minutes, created by Joseph Hoffman and are free of charge. There are extra activity pages, sheet music, and mp3 files, which can be purchased for download alongside the lessons. Hoffman’s lessons are inspired by Suzuki and Kodaly methods, as well as from his own child development research. In addition, piano teachers and educators also favour using the Hoffman Academy materials in their own private practices. You can find out much more here.

Courses

The Dublin International Piano Festival and Summer Academy

DublinThis festival is gaining popularity and is considered the leading programme of its kind in Ireland, attracting students and audiences from all over the world to Dublin for a nine days of lessons, masterclasses and performances. The programme offers an intensive educational experience for advanced piano students as well as an exciting concert series open to the public. The Summer Academy gives young pianists a unique opportunity to explore the possibilities of a career as a pianist, to work with the faculty, and to excel in piano performance and technique, while enjoying everything Dublin city has to offer. Eighteen participants will enjoy daily practice sessions, lessons and masterclasses, seminars on topics such as performance psychology from experts in the field. The dates are 23rd – 31st July, and you can find out much more 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.


 

Top Recommended Piano Resources for January 2016

Badge Graphics Draft 3As we wave goodbye to January (how is it possible already!?), my blog celebrates its fourth Birthday! Mulling over the past four years, I can’t help observing just how much my life has changed; this website has given me the opportunity to meet many interesting pianists, teachers, composers, publishers, and writers. It has expanded and shaped my life in ways I could have never imagined, for which I’m extremely grateful.

January brings a crop of varied piano resources from sheet music and books, to online products and courses. I hope there will be something to interest everyone.


Beginners and Elementary:

Music Me Piano Practice Time Notebook

RobertaThese notebooks have been designed by Roberta Wolff and are a fun and useful addition to piano lessons; they are suitable for young learners everywhere. Music Me Piano Practice Time notebook features an all-in-one style practice page with keyboards, manuscript, cycle of fifths and up to six different practice activities per week for your student to explore. The pages are interactive, involving your student as well as  supporting their practice. For a free trial pack and to place your order, click here.

Piano for Fun Series

Piano For Fun SeriesA new series, published by Elena Cobb (EVC Music publications), which features four books written by four composers; Heather Hammond, Olly Wedgwood, Alison Mathews, and myself. Heather Hammond is a renowned educational composer, and has already published several piano books with EVC Music publications. Piano Olé!, brings a Spanish flavour to ten bright, tuneful compositions, which lie comfortably under the hands and are intended for early intermediate players. Olly Wedgwood (son of renowned educational composer Pamela Wedgwood), has written Piano Plan B! This volume of ten pieces and certainly lives up to its title, exuding joy, fun and plenty of jazzy tunes, which are intended for late beginners (some pieces are published, but the whole volume will be available later this week). Composer and pianist Alison Mathews’ Piano Planets, feature a collection of ten pieces, which are current and vibrant, and they are written for late beginners. My volume, Piano Waves, which will be available very soon, consists of six Minimalist style melodious pieces, inspired by my many piano adventures at sea, and suitable for intermediate players. There is currently a 50% discount sale on all music published by EVC Music publications, just quote this code when purchasing: BDAYGIRL!

You can hear some of the pieces from Piano For Fun Series and meet the composers at the Music Expo Educational Event in London next month, where we will be presenting an informal showcase. You can find out much more about the music, here.

Composer’s Choice: Glenda Austin

Glenda AustinAn interesting, innovative series published by the Willis Company, featuring various Contemporary composers. This book introduces eight pieces by American composer, arranger and pianist, Glenda Austin. The collection includes six of Glenda’s favourite pieces through the years, as well as two brand new ones composed especially for this series. Titles: Betcha-Can Boogie • Jivin’ Around • The Plucky Penguin • Rolling Clouds • Shadow Tag • Southpaw Swing • Sunset Over the Sea • Tarantella (Spider at Midnight). The volume contains helpful performance notes too, and I enjoyed reading through each piece, which will introduce students to a variety of modern, Contemporary styles. Educational music at its best! Purchase your copy here.

Intermediate

5 Pieces for 5 Left Hands at One Piano

Mike CornickBritish composer, Mike Cornick‘s latest addition to this popular series for numerous players at one piano, published by Universal Edition, is for 5 left hands. This is, by all accounts, a fairly unusual combination! However, I’ve used this series on many occasions when running my sight-reading courses and students really do enjoy playing these volumes. Entertaining for the audience and fun to perform, each piece encourages pianists to listen, interact with each other, and above all, become accustomed to ensemble playing.  A second copy of the score is included for easy reading in performance and free downloads of the single parts are available to make practising at home possible.  Intended for those between Grades 2 – 5 level (early Intermediate), you can find out lots more here.

Advanced:

Virtuoso Transcriptions Piano Transcription Series

VirtuosoPianoTransBackPublished by Schott Music, this is an excellent collection of favourite works, all arranged for piano, and, as the title suggests, in a virtuoso manner. For those who enjoy a good romp around the keyboard, there are many works from which to choose, from musicologically significant transcriptions to interesting modern arrangements. I particularly like Paganini Jazz and Alla Turka Jazz, both written by Fazil Say (you can hear the former played by the composer/arranger here), but there are also works arranged and transcribed by Franz Liszt, Glenn Gould, Olli Mustonen, Marc-André Hamelin, Percy Grainger, amongst others. There is definitely something for everyone in this series which celebrates the piano in all its glory! You can find out much more here.

Books:

So You Want To Learn To Improvise? and So You Want To Play The Piano?

Books by AlfredThis series has been written by Andrew Higgins and myself, and published by Alfred Music.  Andrew’s book focuses on developing improvisation technique; there are plenty of written instructions and explanations throughout, to guide students.  Much information is proffered, and those who digest this book thoroughly will surely be on the way to honing excellent improvisational skills. My book is intended for prospective students and beginners everywhere; those who want to know the best ways to begin learning to play. It may also be useful for anyone considering becoming a piano teacher. There is a myriad of information; from which instrument, teacher, and piano method is suitable, to piano technique, piano exams and information on piano music and composers. So You Want To Learn To Improvise? can be purchased here, and So You Want To Play The Piano?, here.

Online:

Easy Ear Training

imagesEasy Ear Training is a music education technology company, who are developing digital products like mobile apps and audio-enhanced eBooks to make learning the essential listening skills of music easy, fun and effective. Easy Ear Training offers many different apps for musicians and aspiring musicians of all different levels and abilities, encouraging them to develop an increasingly sophisticated ear. You can browse their courses, and digital products here.

Piano Courses:

Piano Week

Piano WeekThis course is held at Moreton Hall School in Shropshire, UK and is organised by Artistic Director Samantha Ward. Piano Week is an international piano festival and Summer school for pianists of all ages and abilities. Consisting of many recitals, master classes, talks, discussions, one-to-one lessons, and performance opportunities for all participants. Course dates are 17th – 24th July: Piano Week 1, and 24th – 31st July: Piano Week 2. Stephen Kovacevich will be giving the celebrity recital, and there is a host of pianists and teachers providing coaching (the faculty changes slightly over the two-week course). For more details visit the website, here.

A Beethoven Pilgrimage: Master Course with Julian Jacobson

landscape11Pianist, composer and Royal College of Music professor, Julian Jacobson, is taking a Summer course in Austria this year. The substantial new summer course and festival is devoted entirely to Beethoven, and is dedicated to the solo piano sonatas. Course dates are August 5th to August 22nd (2016), eighteen full days, with excellent facilities, copious recitals by participants and artists in residence, open sessions and excursions. There are also various awards for students including further concert opportunities. It’s taking place in the most glorious countryside in the Salzkammergut region of Austria. Each full participant brings three complete sonatas and receives six lessons; part courses are also possible. This will no doubt be a wonderful experience, and to learn more 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.


 

Recommended Piano Resources for October 2015

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Happy Halloween! It’s the end of October already, and therefore time for my monthly round-up of useful piano resources. As  might be expected for this time of year, there are several Christmas additions (great for students everywhere). Enjoy!


Beginners and Elementary

Piano Mix 1

Piano Mix 1

This new series, published by UK exam board, ABRSM, is a selection of arrangements in three graded books. The collection has been complied and edited by David Blackwell, and Book 1 is intended for those of around Grades 1 – 2 level. The arrangements have been written by Alan Bullard, Nikki Iles,  Christopher Norton, and Tim Richards, amongst others, and feature very famous tunes, which appear in easy arrangements for those just learning. There is a vast spectrum of styles from Handel’s Fireworks Minuet to Harry. J. Lincoln’s Bees-Wax Rag; from orchestral music to opera, and from folk to jazz, there’s something for everyone. Find out more and get your copy here.

Jazzin’ At Christmas

Jazzin

These effective little Christmas piano pieces have been arranged by British composer, saxophonist and music teacher, Rachel Forsyth, and published by Roo Records. The collection features ten arrangements of well-loved festive classics all presented in a jazzy style (as the title suggests!). From swing and blues through to reggae and calypso styles, this book will bring a different take on playing carols. Included are Deck the Halls, Good King Reggae, Not so Silent Night, Ding, Ding Dong! and Holly and Ivy Dance. Suitable for students of around elementary level (or Grades 1 – 3). Listen to some of the pieces here and get your copy here.

Famous & Fun Christmas

Carol Matz

Written by American composer and arranger, Carol Matz, and published by Alfred Music, this group of fifteen piano arrangements is perfect for late elementary to early intermediate players. The series is specially designed and carefully leveled to supplement any piano method. It’s a very useful supplementary series which expands to include popular holiday selections as well as traditional favourites, including Jingle Bell Rock, Sleigh Ride, Winter Wonderland, and Ding, Dong Merrily on High! Download and print sheet music from the Famous & Fun Christmas Series here.

 Puffin Island

Puffin Island

Puffin Island is a set of eleven piano miniatures written by Irish composer June Armstrong. They are around Grades 1 – 4 (elementary and early intermediate) level, and have been beautifully written to reflect the atmosphere and life on Rathlin Island which is situated off the coast of County Antrim in Northern Island.  There are helpful notes about each piece at the beginning of the volume, and some performance directions too. Titles include Off to Rathlin! Morning Mist, Puffins, Curlew Calling, and Sunset over Donegal. Great alternative repertoire for between exams, or sight-reading material for higher grades. You can listen and learn more about these pieces here, and get your copy here.

Intermediate

Daily Expressions Volume 2

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Written by British Paul Birchall and published by EVC Music Publications, this collection comprises seven compositions for Intermediate level students (Grades 4 – 6). This is Paul’s second volume of Daily Expressions, and rather like the first set, the compositional style has been heavily influenced by Minimalism. Paul wrote one new piece each day for one month and seven were selected and included here. He has described the process of composing thus: ‘I would conceive a theme very quickly and then develop it into a complete piece.’ You can listen to all the pieces and get your copy here.

Christmas Cool Piano Duets

Christmas Duets

This is a fun volume of Christmas tunes arranged by British composer Heather Hammond and published by Kevin Mayhew. Fairly straightforward in style and difficulty, they would be appropriate for students of Grades 4 – 6 level, but also great sight-reading practice for more advanced levels. The Primo part is generally simpler than the Secondo, which may make this volume ideal for pupils playing with their teachers. Amongst the twelve Christmas pieces are Jingle Bells, Joy to the World, Silent Night, Walking in the Air, We wish you a Merry Christmas and Frosty the Snowman. Perfect for the end of term Christmas concert! Get your copy here.

Advanced

Piano Music for One Hand

Left Hand

I came across this volume recently. It’s not a new publication, but sometimes it’s beneficial just to highlight various collections. Piano Music for One Hand has been compiled by American pianist Raymond Lewenthal, published by G. Schirmer, and is intended for either students who have temporarily or permanently lost the use of one hand, or any pianist (above approximately Grade 6) who believes their left-hand playing could benefit from some extra practice (or perhaps those who are just fascinated by one-handed repertoire). These pieces vary in difficulty. Some are technical studies, yet they are not just exercises; many of these pieces are beautifully written by a whole spectrum of esteemed composers over several centuries. There are works by J S and C P E Bach, Czerny, Liszt, Scriabin, Bartók, Alkan, Moszowski and Godowsky. The book includes some very useful notes about the history of one-handed music and practice techniques too. Get your copy here.

Online

Noviscore

Noviscore

Noviscore.com is a French company established in 2006 which specialises in online sheet music of copious styles and genres, which are available for all different levels. Each individual piece featured in the catalogue has been adapted and arranged for the piano by in-house pianists for up to four different levels of piano playing ability. Whether you are a beginner, an experienced player, or a private piano tutor, there is a large selection of music from easy piano sheet music to original scores, which are available for piano solo, or as an accompaniment to another instrument or a singer. Styles include classical, pop, jazz, blues, gospel, movie soundtracks, Christmas, and children’s music. For much more information and to browse the catalogue click here.

MusicPal

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MusicPal can replicate the sound of a piece of music merely by scanning a photo. So take a picture with your phone or device and MusicPal will play it for you. You can listen note by note, loop phrases, and even isolate the treble or bass clef. Apparently every photo you take and tile-matching game you play will improve MusicPal’s accuracy. It’s always handy to ‘know’ instantly what your sheet music sounds like! This could be a helpful app for students especially. You can find out much more here.

Books

Choral and Vocal Warm-Ups

avadFAJ4Choral & Vocal Warm Ups

This new volume has been written by British pianist, composer and teacher Nancy Litten and is published by Alfred Music. It has been conceived for pianists and is essentially ‘everything the pianist needs to know’ about directing choral and vocal warm-ups. The book is very comprehensive, starting with harmonized major scales in all keys (which are conveniently written out), then there are chapters on body relaxation, breathing, using vowels, focusing tone, intonation, diction, agility, gentle warm-ups, sight-singing, ice-breakers, and finally, tips for accompanying solo singers. This will prove an invaluable resource for all those associated with church music, and anyone rehearsing choirs. There are extensive tips and helpful musical examples too. Get your copy 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.


 

 

 

9 Top Recommended Piano Resources for July 2015

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This month’s recommended resources include a mixture of piano music, text books and courses. Hopefully I’ve featured something of interest for all levels and abilities. Enjoy!


Beginners and Elementary

Floating Snowflakes, I Like Bananas, & Martians Come to Town

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Three new pieces written by American composer and teacher Dr. Julie Knerr are published by Piano Safari. Piano Safari is an increasingly popular method for beginners and these little pieces reinforce the method book teaching. They are essentially duets for pupil and teacher, providing excellent practice for students as well as the much-needed confidence playing with a teacher bestows. The primo parts are written on one stave, and they are all jolly, tuneful, upbeat pieces that pupils will enjoy. You can hear and purchase them as either a print or digital copy here.

Famous & Fun Deluxe Collections

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Piano teachers are always searching for ways to keep students engaged and interested. The Famous & Fun Deluxe Collections arranged by American composer and teacher Carol Matz and published by Alfred Music Publishing, helps teachers do just that, by providing arrangements of pieces which students love and are motivated to practice! Each book contains a mixture of well-loved selections drawn from the entire series. In the “Deluxe Collections,” you’ll find pieces from “Famous & Fun”: Pop, Classics, Favorites, Rock, Duets, and Pop Duets. The series ranges from Early Elementary to Intermediate. Learn more and purchase here (Amazon UK here).

Andante

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A shameless little plug for my new duet for those of around Grades 2/3 level. It’s a prelude to a collection of 10 duets I’ve written intended for those of Grades 2-4 level (late elementary), to be published in September. The challenge was to write a set of duets with each one lasting no longer than eight or ten bars (measures)! Not an easy task. They have a Minimalist flavour and are, I hope, enjoyable and fun to play. You can hear Andante and purchase the piece here.

Intermediate

Ballads Without Words

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Last month’s recommendations included British composer Heather Hammond’s new piece, The Wheels of Time.  Heather has now completed her collection of eight pieces for piano (published by EVC Publications). As the title suggest, these works are all lyrical, with attractive tunes and poignant melodies. They are ideal for pupils who want to play something different between exams and for those who like to explore essentially jazzy harmonies and syncopated rhythms. Around Grades 5-7 standard (Intermediate/late Intermediate), Listen and purchase Ballads Without Words here.

Babylon & Lavender Mist

Babylon and Lavender Haze

These very effective pieces, written by British composer and publisher Elena Cobb, are designed for those of around Grades 5/6 standard (intermediate level). Babylon is a dark, dramatic work with an arresting theme, coloured by chromatic harmonies, using plenty of bass notes which ring out right from the outset. Listen to Babylon and get your copy here. Lavender Mist has an essentially jazzy, bluesy feel, with copious colourful chordal progressions moving up and down the keyboard, and a laid back pulse. Listen to Lavender Mist and purchase here.

Arietta and Nuit d’etoiles

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American composer and teacher Rick Robertson, has written a whole library of works for the piano. Arietta and Nuit d’etoiles are late intermediate level pieces (for Grades 5-7), and are both melodically interesting and eminently playable. Nuit d’etoiles (Starry Night) reflects impressionistic colours with ‘Ravelian’ sweeps and a dreamily expressive melody. Listen here and get your copy here. Arietta consists of bold thematic material, which is split between the hands, and accompanied by chords, building to a resounding climax; this is a passionate, beautiful piece. Listen here and get your copy here.

Advanced

Lotus Preludes

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The Lotus Preludes, which are a set of 24 short pieces, were composed by Ecuadorian-American composer Alexander J Leon. The works are short, effective and will certainly be of interest to pianists and teachers. Exploring a wide variety of emotions, they range from fairly straightforward to complex pieces. The composer says; ‘Each work in the set is a character piece, exploring a variety of feelings, moods, and motivic material. Each piece is short, trying to play with the sensation that the piece ends before the listener’s attention span is depleted. As a result, the listener is sort of “shocked” that the piece has ended, and consequentially desires to hear more. The work as a whole is hence like a sort of musical popcorn, in which the listener takes small bites and doesn’t want to stop eating.’ Listen to the pieces here, and download your copy for FREE here.

Books

Piano by Ear

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A very useful new volume, Piano By Ear is written by British teacher Lucinda Mackworth-Young and published by Faber Music. Learning to play by ear and improvise is often a colossal task for Classical pianists (particularly for students), and it still often remains a largely ignored topic in piano lessons. This may be partly due to lesson time constraints, but it’s also up to teachers to inspire and ignite interest. Lucinda carefully paves the way for success; starting with playing by ear, through to suggesting appropriate tunes, possible chords, chord structures, cadences, accompaniments, practice ideas, and various scale patterns and harmonic progressions. It’s the perfect book for those preparing for ABRSM Practical Musicianship exams (I wish I’d had this book when doing my Grade 8 Musicianship exam!). Going beyond exams, it could really help teachers wanting to diversify and those wishing to feel confident playing without the score, extemporising or even composing. Piano by Ear is available to pre-order now and to buy from 30th July.

Piano Courses

Jackdaws Courses 2015/6

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I’ve written about Jackdaws Music Education Trust’s renowned courses before here on my monthly recommendations. This coming year (2015/6) features many piano expert teachers, each offering a weekend piano course with a plethora of workshop sessions. Set in Somerset (UK) in beautiful surroundings, you can study, meet liked-minded people and enjoy excellent home cooked food. I’m honoured to be amongst this year’s tutors and my  course takes place from 23rd – 25th October 2015. It includes eight workshop sessions and all meals. However, you can also choose to study  with a whole array of fabulous teachers including Graham Fitch, Philip Fowke, Margaret Fingerhut, Julian Jacobson, Timothy Barratt, Mark Tanner, and Elena Riu.



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.