Welcome to Pianodao!

Pianodao – “The Way of Piano” – seeks to inform, inspire and encourage piano players, teachers and students.

Built around the metaphor of piano playing as a lifetime journey, Pianodao focuses on our musical and creative development while also considering our personal well-being.

Louis Couperin … on the Piano?

At my recent piano recital, I started with the very beautiful Chaconne in F major by the early French Baroque composer Louis Couperin (1626-61), uncle of the far better known François Couperin “Le Grand” (1668-1731).

For most who were in the audience, it will have been their first encounter with the music of Louis Couperin, and even those with an interest in the early French Baroque will perhaps never have heard this music performed on a modern piano before – it was written for the harpsichord (or clavecin as the French knew it) and while later Baroque music (for example the keyboard works of J.S.Bach and Domenico Scarlatti) has found its way into the piano repertoire, earlier Baroque keyboard music is rarely heard outside of specialist “Early Music” circles.

Continue reading Louis Couperin … on the Piano?

Piano Safari: The Review

Sheet Music Review

Piano Safari is a beginner piano method series written by Katherine Fisher and Julie Knerr, first published in the USA in 2008. A distinctive approach which has won over many American piano teachers, it is now available in the UK from Alfred Music.

I invited American teacher Brian Jenkins, who has used Piano Safari over a number of years, to write an introduction for Pianodao explaining how it has changed his approach, and why he loves it. I recommend you read his piece here before mine, because he speaks not only with enthusiasm, but with the authority of a teacher who has put the resource into practice.

As Brian has already given a comprehensive overview of the approach, my own points will be supplementary to his. I will review the product itself after reflecting on the methodology…

Continue reading Piano Safari: The Review

Relax with Haydn

A few weeks ago I mentioned that Schott Music are holding an event at their London Store in celebration of the excellent “Relax with Piano” series of books, which I very positively reviewed here when they were published earlier in the year.

I was hoping to attend, but alas circumstances prevent me from doing so. However, I do think that the event will be an enjoyable evening for all who can attend, and I recommend doing so if you get the chance!

In the meantime, as I am unable to make it, I decided to post a recording of the Haydn Adagio in F major Hob.XVII:9, which I had intended to play at some point. I hope you enjoy this wonderful, truly relaxing piece!

And if you have taken up the opportunity to play at the event, all the best!

Introducing Piano Safari

Guest Post by Brian Jenkins

Popular in the US, the Piano Safari method is now available in the UK from Alfred Music. With many here now expressing an interest, a review from a U.K. perspective will follow here soon.

In the meantime, US teacher Brian Jenkins explains how the method has impacted his teaching…

Continue reading Introducing Piano Safari

Andrew Eales 2016 Recital

I would like to say a HUGE Thank You! to all who supported my 2016 Recital performance at the Chrysalis Theatre, Milton Keynes on Saturday 8th October.

Each year I try to give at least one solo recital locally as an opportunity to share my own playing and enthusiasm with my students, families and friends in the area – as well as those who choose to travel from further afield.

One such is my friend Stephen Marquiss, himself a very highly respected pianist and teacher, who kindly wrote of the evening:

“Treated to a recital by Andrew Eales last night packed with exquisite musical detail, inspired programming and engaging and informative introductions.”

For those who are interested in the programme I played, and would like to explore the music and composers more, here’s the list:

  • Louis Couperin (1626-61): Chaconne in F major
  • Erik Satie (1866-1925): Sarabande No.1
  • Erik Satie:  Gymnopédies 1-3
  • W.A. Mozart (1756-1791):  Piano Sonata in F major K.332

And after the interval:

  • Elena Kats-Chernin (b1957):  Eliza Aria
  • Elena Kats-Chernin:  Butterflying
  • Robert Schumann (1810-1856):  Papillons Op.2
  • Erik Satie:  3 Gnossiennes

At the end I also performed my own composition “Prelude to a Better Year”, a version of which I recorded here:

The concert was held to benefit the Campbell Community Milton Keynes, a charity that all recent Keyquest Music concerts have supported.

Including the ticket sales and refreshments on Saturday, the total amount we have raised for this wonderful cause over the last three years has now risen to more than £5,000.

Thank you for such overwhelming generosity!

Improvisation – A natural high

Guest post by Simon Reich

Launching a new series on improvisation…

There are many natural highs to be enjoyed in life.

Society’s obsession with alcohol, drugs, nicotine and artificial stimulants misses the serotonin release available from activities that occur all around us. In my case, consuming great tasting food, stimulating conversation with friends, daredevil acts – like riding a roller coaster or jumping from high platforms into water, romancing my partner, winning competitive games and (for the focus of this article), playing a musical instrument.

Continue reading Improvisation – A natural high