So You Want To Play The Piano? The winners are….

Published by Alfred MusicMany thanks to all those who took part in my weekend competition.

This week’s winners are:

Gloria Pevy and Mary Loy Pa.

Congratulations! Please send your addresses via my contact page on this blog.

There are more competitions and giveaways coming very soon. If you would like to know more about my book So You Want To Play The Piano? you can do so here, and if you would like to purchase a copy, you can do so on Amazon here and from the Alfred website here.


My Publications:

For much more information about how to practice piano repertoire, take a look at my two-book piano course, Play it again: PIANO (Schott). Covering a huge array of styles and genres, 49 progressive pieces from approximately Grade 1 – 8 level are featured, with at least two pages of practice tips for every piece. A convenient and beneficial course for students of any age, with or without a teacher, and it can also be used alongside piano examination syllabuses too.

You can find out more about my other piano publications and compositions here.


 

Weekend Competition: So You Want To Play The Piano?

It’s time for the Weekend Competition, and this week I am offering my own book, So You Want To Play The Piano? as the prize. I haven’t offered this publication as a competition prize so far on this blog, and some readers have been kindly asking where it can be purchased.

I’ve made a short video which you can watch below, describing the book and why it might be a useful addition to any prospective piano students library. It may also be of interest to parents, those who already play or are self-taught, and even a helpful resource for teachers too.

You can find out more about the book here, and purchase it from Amazon here. However, I have TWO copies to give away this weekend, so to be in with a chance of winning, just leave your comment in the comment box at the end of this post and I will pick the two winners on Sunday evening (British time). Good luck!

So You Want To Play The Piano? – The Reviews

‘This is an excellent book, a first-class introduction and guide to those wishing to learn the piano, full of sensible and practical advice and very well written by an experienced pianist and teacher. Nor is it confined to young people and children – the adult beginner is also considered. Among the subjects it covers are: how to find the perfect instrument; what to look for in a teacher; supporting a child who is learning; preparing for exams; and much more. It is completely up to date and is enthusiastically recommended.’

Robert Matthew-Walker (Musical Opinion)

‘This is an excellent book for anyone who is interested in piano lessons for themselves or a family member. It is extremely comprehensive and includes everything you could possibly want to know about piano lessons. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a book quite like this, and anyone considering piano lessons should use this book as a resource.’

Susan Paradis – US Blogger, piano teacher and educational expert.

‘The book is geared towards parents and/or students that may be new to the piano lesson experience. But it includes much more than I expected from a “parent or student guide”. For this reason, I would recommend that teachers even have a copy of it in their studio if you have an area for parents to sit while their child is having a lesson.’

Jennifer Foxx – US Blogger, piano teacher and educational expert.

‘My first thought as I read this was ‘why hasn’t anyone written this before?’ It’s full of great advice for anyone wanting to take up the piano, anyone with children about to start to play, or even piano teachers at the start of their career. How on earth did the aspiring pianist manage without a clear volume on how to find the perfect instrument, what to look for in a teacher, things to bear in mind beyond playing the right notes, and how to support a child who is learning? Melanie Spanswick’s book delivers all this and more.’

Fiona Lau (Music Teacher Magazine)

‘This book is un-putdownable because Melanie says everything I have been wanting to say for a long time. I have come across lots of talented young pianists, and I often say to myself ‘if he/she had been taught properly at the beginning, he/she would be a much higher level by now.’ Melanie’s friendly and approachable but ‘no messing about’ direct mannerism is perfect for all piano enthusiasts. This is the kind of book we all need by the side of the piano! It has all kinds of information we need.’

Noriko Ogawa (Japanese International Concert Pianist)


My publications:

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.


So You Want To Play The Piano?

Proper Book Cover

My book So You Want To Play The Piano? has been completely revised, hugely expanded and republished by Alfred Music, and is available today!

You can purchase a copy from Amazon.

I’m delighted to be published by such a fantastic publishing company; Alfred Music is the world’s largest music education publisher (of sheet music).

When I first wrote this book (back in the Summer of 2011), I had a fairly clear idea of what I wanted to achieve; which was to help those who had never played the piano before to make important decisions about various crucial aspects at the start of their musical journey.

My original book was well received, but perhaps rather limited in terms of technical help regarding actual piano playing, practising and repertoire. The new version (or second edition) is very different! It is significantly larger, both physically (A4 size), and in terms of content. I have added several chapters transforming the book into a comprehensive volume, proffering tips and ideas for those of up to around Grade 5 or 6 level (or beyond).

The book consists of twelve chapters:

Prelude

Chapter 1 – Why the piano?

Chapter 2 – Will I need a piano?

Chapter 3 – Finding a piano teacher

Chapter 4 – What qualities should I look for in a piano teacher?

Chapter 5 – Other considerations

Chapter 6 – Which piano method?

Chapter 7 – The first lesson, progress and words of encouragement

Chapter 8 – Piano basics

Chapter 9 – Piano technique

Chapter 10 – Piano exams

Chapter 11 – Piano music

Chapter 12 – Music festivals, competitions and public performance

Coda

Prospective students are taken on a journey from the very beginning, examining the reasons for playing, how to ascertain the best instruments for beginners (or those who may be looking to upgrade), and most importantly, to help locate and decipher the best or most suitable piano teachers (with copious tips for finding a good teacher, thus avoiding the bad habits accrued when piano study has been less than ideal), as well as discussing many other considerations which often crop up at the start.

There is a chapter on piano methods (or piano books for beginners), examining twenty-two piano tutor books in some detail (both familiar and new books) as well as a list of many further publications, with a section dedicated to supplementary educational methods (such as the Suzuki methods). Another chapter indicates what might be expected from the first few lessons, plus a chapter on piano basics, offering suggestions regarding posture, hand positions and how to avoid common errors surrounding rhythm and note learning.

Chapter nine deals with piano technique, which may be beneficial for pianists of all levels; topics include the importance of wrist movement, flexibility, finger independence (and how to achieve these), fingering, producing a good sound, phrasing, articulation, dynamics and pedalling.

Chapter ten addresses the whole subject of exams. This is a vastly expanded chapter, which begins by surveying all the British exam boards, as well as highlighting many of those in other parts of the world, evaluating the various levels (or grades) and syllabus components. I’ve written quite extensively on each component and how to prepare for piano exams (which could be as relevant to Grade one as to Grade eight). There are proposed practice ideas and tips for improving and working at scales, sight-reading and aural tests (as well as suggested practice material), and a (hopefully) helpful section which focuses on how to prepare an exam piece too.

Chapter eleven surveys piano music throughout the ages. Each historical period is discussed in relation to stylistic development; citing vital pianistic evolution and change (from approximately the 1500s) right up to music of the present day. There are lists of the most popular composers of the period, and recommended piano music suitable for beginners up to and including  intermediate level.

The book finishes with a chapter on the role of music festivals, competitions and how to deal with public performance. There is also an appendix and suggested further reading. The book is littered with musical examples and photographs, as well as lists of recommended practice materials and a ‘5 points to remember’ box at the end of every chapter, summating the most essential and relevant chapter points.

I hope So You Want To Play The Piano? is a thorough guide for students and possibly also for teachers who are looking for extra resources or practice ideas for their pupils. Surprisingly, there a very few books on the market dealing with the topic of how to begin playing the piano – so it is my wish to help those interested to start in the best way possible.

You can order your copy here

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Reviews and Testimonials

‘This is an excellent book, a first-class introduction and guide to those wishing to learn the piano, full of sensible and practical advice and very well written by an experienced pianist and teacher. Nor is it confined to young people and children – the adult beginner is also considered. Among the subjects it covers are: how to find the perfect instrument; what to look for in a teacher; supporting a child who is learning; preparing for exams; and much more. It is completely up to date and is enthusiastically recommended.’

Robert Matthew-Walker (Musical Opinion)

‘This book is un-putdownable because Melanie says everything I have been wanting to say for a long time. I have come across lots of talented young pianists, and I often say to myself ‘if he/she had been taught properly at the beginning, he/she would be a much higher level by now.’ Melanie’s friendly and approachable but ‘no messing about’ direct mannerism is perfect for all piano enthusiasts. This is the kind of book we all need by the side of the piano! It has all kinds of information we need.’

Noriko Ogawa (Japanese International Concert Pianist)

‘My first thought as I read this was ‘why hasn’t anyone written this before?’ It’s full of great advice for anyone wanting to take up the piano, anyone with children about to start to play, or even piano teachers at the start of their career. How on earth did the aspiring pianist manage without a clear volume on how to find the perfect instrument, what to look for in a teacher, things to bear in mind beyond playing the right notes, and how to support a child who is learning? Melanie Spanswick’s book delivers all this and more.’

Fiona Lau (Music Teacher Magazine)

‘This book is good news for all involved in playing the piano.’

Dr. Sally Cathcart (The Curious Piano Teachers)

Alfred Logo


My publications:

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.

 


 

 

 

 

 

20 Top Reasons to Play the Piano

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One of the first scribblings on my blog was this article, 10 Reasons to Play the Piano, which has since proved to be amongst the most viewed posts on this site. Several readers have written over the past few months asking for an even longer list, so I decided to expand on my original post, and have realised twenty various reasons to learn this demanding but ultimately fascinating instrument. We all now know playing the piano is a fantastic hobby and there are copious benefits from the study of a musical instrument. Here are twenty reasons (which appear in no particular order) to encourage exploration of this truly wonderful pastime:

1. Music creates happiness. It is central to human health and, for many, human existence. To be given the chance to make music is vital because it can supply an emotional and creative outlet.

2. Playing the piano is an excellent source of pleasure and fulfilment, providing a deep sense of satisfaction.

3. It’s believed that children (and adults) who take part in musical activities are happier and more sociable than those who don’t.

4. Music making bestows great opportunities for social interaction, group activities and communal endeavour.

5. Playing the piano can boost creative thinking.

6. Playing any instrument requires commitment, determination and perseverance; all great personal attributes.

7. Piano playing requires physical strength and regular practice, which is akin to working out; honing certain muscles, which can help to keep students fit and healthy.

8. The piano provides both melody and harmony, and can therefore be played solo without any accompaniment. This is not the case with many other musical instruments (like the clarinet or violin which only produce one musical line, usually the melody line, so an accompaniment or ‘backing’ is always needed).

9. It’s possible to make coherent sounds on the piano from the very beginning because it has ready-made pitches (you depress a key and it makes a sound). This is unlike other instruments where it can take many months of study before a pleasant sound is produced (this is especially true of brass and string instruments).

10. Mastering the piano requires a tremendous amount of co-ordination (you really do have to multi-task!) thus cultivating useful mental skills. It really focuses and develops the mind and can help motor development particularly the coordination of the hands, eyes and body.

11. The study of music is an extension of the learning process, so children who excel at piano playing often do well at school too. Music, specifically, can amplify and boost memory development, as well as enable a higher level of concentration.

12. Once a competent level has been attained, a plethora of other skills will appear ‘easy’ by comparison and problem solving becomes a natural process.

13. Those who study music usually have a more positive outlook and attitude, are often more motivated and less intimidated by learning new things.

14. Playing the piano proffers the perfect opportunity to perform. Performing is so important. It can build confidence – which, as we all know, is crucial for success in all walks of life.

15. Piano playing can develop into a passion and provide an interest in life; those who play will always have something to think and talk about.

16. If you can enjoy an all-encompassing hobby such as this, you will never be bored; there will always be something new and exciting to discover.

17. You can explore all kinds of music and repertoire when you’ve studied the piano basics; Jazz, Pop, Rock, Musical Theatre, Improvisation; the possibilities are almost endless.

18. It can be a relaxing activity, counteracting the stress of everyday life, procuring a sense of calm and well–being.

19. You will always be a popular guest at a party, and will instantly impress your friends and family!

20. It’s fun!

We should all have the opportunity to learn an instrument at some point in our lives. If every child was given school piano lessons for just one year, the benefits would be amazing. I sincerely hope everyone who wishes to learn to play can make a positive start to their musical journey and if you wish to know more about how to begin playing the piano, my book might be a useful way to begin; So You Want To Play The Piano?

All you need to do now is motivate yourself to get playing. Good luck and enjoy!

Image: So You Want To Play The Piano?  published by Alfred Music.


My publications:

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.


 

Sheargold Music Interview

A few weeks ago I spoke to Steven Palmer at Sheargold Music as part of their new video-blog series, about my career and my new book. I was delighted to have the opportunity to chat on camera about So You Want To Play The Piano?  Sheargold Music own two large piano and music shops; one in Maidenhead, Berkshire (from where I hail) and the other in Cobham, Surrey. You can watch the brief interview below:


My publications:

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.