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Welcome to the piano education website and online blog of teacher, published composer and author ANDREW EALES.

Andrew provides regular lessons and personal consultations at his private studio in Milton Keynes. Through his innovative Video Feedback Service he also offers affordable, detailed written advice to players everywhere.

Pianodao features more than 600 articles and music reviews, all written to inform and support players, teachers and enthusiasts, and free to access thanks to the support of readers.


My First Schubert: Easiest Pieces

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Schott Music’s My First Composers collections continue to prove one of the most quirkily enjoyable series of recent years.

With their combination of covers that resemble childrens’ storybooks and content that includes music up to Grade 8 and beyond, they equally suit child prodigies and older players with a self-deprecating sense of fun.

I have previously been very impressed with My First Beethoven (reviewed here), Haydn (here), Schumann (here) and Tchaikovsky (here). Each of these publications delivers a generous mixture of classics and lesser-known pieces, beautifully presented within (and on cream paper) and freshly edited by Wilhelm Ohmen.

The latest addition to the series is devoted to the music of Franz Schubert, delivering 37 solo pieces and 10 duets, and seems to me another immediate winner…

Continue reading My First Schubert: Easiest Pieces

Fauré • Pavane Op.50

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The Pavane Op.50 by Gabriel Fauré (1845-1924) is blessed with one of the most delectable and beloved melodies ever composed, and was from the start one of its composer’s most popular works, exuding the spirit of Paris’s fêtes galantes at the turn of the century.

The piece was originally composed for orchestra in 1887, described by Fauré at the time as “carefully crafted but not otherwise important”. Before the end of the year, there followed a version for chorus and orchestra. Some three decades later, the iconic impresario Serge Diaghilev had it choreographed for his Ballets Russes, a sign of its continuing great popularity.

Many transcriptions of the Pavane have existed, including the solo piano version published in 1889 (the composer’s duet version was also advertised, but if it ever appeared it has sadly been lost).

Many simplified versions have and continue to appear, but for those wanting to explore the original version (most likely prepared by Fauré himself, who performed it several times and even recorded it for player piano), Bärenreiter have just issued a superb urtext edition, BA 11832, the subject of this short review…

Continue reading Fauré • Pavane Op.50

ABRSM to update their professional diplomas

Expression • Fluency • Understanding
Written by Andrew Eales


Leading exam board and awarding body ABRSM have just announced their intention to replace their entire range of diploma assessments in performance, teaching and direction with a new set of qualifications by 2024.

Among the headline points, they plan to scrap the DipABRSM altogether (seemingly elevating the existing ARSM as its replacement), and replace their LRSM and FRSM diplomas with new assessments which candidates will be able to take digitally, online. We are not told whether the opportunity to take a live, face-to-face diploma exam will remain at all.

These basic points may understandably perplex some readers. For my own part, I regularly teach and prepare candidates for both ARSM and DipABRSM qualifications, so (as with many of ABRSM’s recent changes) this news will directly impact my own students and ongoing professional practice.

Continue reading ABRSM to update their professional diplomas

The Piano Player: Wintertide Collection

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In a busy year for music publishers, Faber Music’s new series The Piano Player has quickly established itself as a distinctive and enjoyable new imprint.

Introducing the first title in the series, a stirring collection of British Classics released in time for Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee, I wrote,

“Aimed at intermediate players of all ages (and I suspect with a particular eye on the adult market), these look set to be a lovely collection of repertoire books.”

A second title, Classical Favourites, quickly followed (reviewed here), and hot on its heels we now have a third. Ready for the run up to Christmas, Wintertide Collection offers “A seasonal selection of 20 wintry pieces”

Continue reading The Piano Player: Wintertide Collection

Christmas Around the World

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Earlier this year I introduced Hal Leonard’s Jennifer Linn Series in my review of the excellent Easy Elementary collection Rendezvous At The Zoo.

Just in time for this year’s festivities, Christmas Around the World is a new addition to the series, this time suitable for Intermediate+ players, defined as:

“…advancing pianists who have progressed to the Piano Solo level and enjoy lush accompaniments and stylistic original compositions and arrangements.”

Whether adopted within the world of the Jennifer Linn Series or beyond it, this publication offers a very interesting and worthwhile addition to the seasonal music shelf of any player or teacher, so let’s investigate further…

Continue reading Christmas Around the World

The Christmas Shortlist

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The Pianodao Music Library includes a wide range of seasonally-themed piano publications to suit all tastes and levels of playing. Keeping track of it all, especially as new publications appear from one year to the next, isn’t easy. Wouldn’t it be good to have a simple list of it all? Well, here it is…

The Christmas Shortlist opens the door to this wealth of wonderful music, bringing together links to all of this site’s reviews of seasonal repertoire in one place, guided by level.

Best of all, the list automatically updates whenever new titles are added, so you can come back year after year. Remember to bookmark this page for future reference!

And don’t forget that Pianodao Tea Room members receive a 20% discount from Musicroom for these and all sheet music publications.

Continue reading The Christmas Shortlist

Christmas • Peaceful Piano Playlist

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Every year, a flurry of new Christmas piano books arrive before the first snowfall, and this year is proving no exception.

Fresh from Faber, the Peaceful Piano Playlist: Christmas book sets the bar high, both in terms of content and presentation. The publication offers,

“A specially curated relaxing playlist of festive piano solos for the intermediate player”,

…and follows on from the popular Peaceful Piano Playlist publication which I reviewed here back in 2019.

Read on for the list of included pieces, and of course for the full review…

Continue reading Christmas • Peaceful Piano Playlist

Jazz It Up! Christmas

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Piano players at early advanced level enthusiastic for a more jazzy take on evergreen Christmas favourites have never been better served, with several choices among my recent reviews to choose from.

Alongside these, they will likely lap up Eric Baumgartner’s brilliant Jazz It Up! Christmas, now in its second edition, and offering twelve ingenious solo arrangements in a variety of accessible grooves.


Twelve, you say? Well yes: the first edition of the book appeared in 2000 and included six pieces; that number doubled to twelve with the publication of the second edition in 2020, the subject of this mini review…

Continue reading Jazz It Up! Christmas

Easy Christmas Piano Books

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The Christmas season is accompanied by a uniquely popular and significant body of music spanning multiple genres, and it’s no wonder that there are so many varied piano collections to choose from, whatever your level…

Continue reading Easy Christmas Piano Books

Donald Thomson’s Winter Piano Music

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Scottish composer Donald Thomson is perhaps best known for his series of Celtic Piano Music collections for intermediate pianists, the omnibus edition of which I have reviewed here.

I have also been impressed with his enjoyable Halloween Piano Tunes collection for elementary players, which I reviewed here recently.

Now Thomson is back with Winter Piano Music, a new collection that is once again published by EVC Music. This time he has written for the more advanced player, delivering five compositions and arrangements which are surely destined to become seasonal concert favourites…

Continue reading Donald Thomson’s Winter Piano Music