Spring Specials for Readers

It’s now been three months since launching the Pianodao Tea Room as a very special exclusive online community for supporters of the Pianodao site, and there’s plenty of room for you to join us if you are interested.

Here’s a quick update of what’s new for Tea Room members:

1.  20% Discounts on Sheet Music

For many readers, the headline new feature of the Pianodao Tea Room is that major online sheet music retailers are now offering significant and exclusive discounts to members:

  • 20% discount across store from Musicroom.com
  • 20% discount across the EVC Music site
  • 20% discount across the whole Editions Musica Ferrum catalogue

Musicroom is one of the largest online retailers, with a vast product range, and they are happy to supply customers worldwide.

One of our community members placed a Musicroom order on a bunch of sheet music for the coming term, and saved €60.00 on the spot – more than twice the £24.00 annual cost of Pianodao Tea Room membership. It would be hard for any piano teacher to not be better off by joining!

EVC Music stock all of Elena Cobb’s published catalogue as well as a growing range of other publications. They are offering 15% off all exam publications from ABRSM, Trinity, LCM and Rockschool – the Pianodao Tea Room special 20% discount is in addition to this, meaning there are massive savings to be had for Tea Room members!

I’m hugely grateful to all who have supported the Pianodao Tea Room by making these great offers available.

2.  Tea Room Tips

Tea Room Tips is a brand new series coming to the Pianodao website here, courtesy of the Pianodao Tea Room.

Each month within the private group there will be a discussion “event” in which members will be invited to share their piano tips on a given subject. Tips shared will be collated into a blog post that will subsequently be published here. The first will be within the next couple of weeks/

However, members can also contribute “private” community only tips, which won’t be quoted here on the Pianodao site.

Would you like to take part in discussions and become a contributor who shares your experiences and knowledge?
Do come and join Pianodao Tea Room!

3.  Extra Reviews

I receive so much material for review on Pianodao that it would be impossible to write in-depth appraisals of every new score or product.

Once again, this is where the Pianodao Tea Room comes in. I promised to share additional reviews there, and have begun to do that using the Facebook Live video feature. Recently I revealed the huge pile of backlog books, and said a little bit about all of them.

Moving forward, each new book I receive will get a quick video review exclusive to the Pianodao Tea Room members on Facebook.

Come and Join!

These benefits are on top of the original benefits of joining the Pianodao Tea Room, foremost among which is the opportunity to be part of a small, intimate community of piano players and teachers who share similar interests and the values expressed via Pianodao.

And of course, the wealth of material that continues be made available here on the main Pianodao website is made possible by the generosity of those who have been willing to support the site.

I would love to welcome you to our inner community!

I’ve linked it throughout this post, but here again is the link to Pianodao Tea Room page, where you can make your £24.00 donation to the site, and then join the community :

Active Repertoire Challenge 2019

What can you play?

This is a question which for too many pianists leads to such answers as:

  • I’m working on Allegro, but it’s not yet ready to play;
  • I finished learning Andante last month, but I’ve forgotten it now;
  • I don’t have my music books with me, so …

What a pity!

The reality is that too many of us can’t sit down at the piano – without notice, without notation, and without embarrassment – and simply play something!

Continue reading Active Repertoire Challenge 2019

ABRSM’s Piano Scales Review

ABRSM’S global standing has long been predicated on wide respect for their role as leaders in music education, setting and maintaining the “gold standards” that have been such a rich source of motivation and affirmation, inspiring generations of musicians worldwide.

But as they launch their latest Piano Scales Review, it increasingly seems they are ceding their authority, trading educational leadership for commercial popularity, led by market research.

In this post I will unpack some of their latest proposals against the backdrop of the bigger question of ABRSM’s historic role in setting and maintaining global standards in music education, noting both improvements and concerns.

Continue reading ABRSM’s Piano Scales Review

Pam Wedgwood’s “Piano Seascapes”

Sheet Music Review

Pam Wedgwood has long been one of the UK’s bestselling educational and contemporary piano composers, with several hugely successful series of books in her back catalogue.

Though now in her 70’s, she remains prolific; since starting to review music on Pianodao I have already written about her outstanding Jazzin’ About the Year (which has subsequently become one of the most popular collections with my own younger students), How to play jazz piano, and her 2017 collection Piano Gallery, about which I concluded:

“Pam’s knack for writing engaging idiomatic piano music and for creating satisfying character pieces with ongoing value seems to me perfectly distilled in Piano Gallery, making this a collection to truly cherish.”

Pam’s latest, Piano Seascapes, is the sequel to Piano Gallery, bringing players 12 new original piano pieces inspired by the sea…

Continue reading Pam Wedgwood’s “Piano Seascapes”

Jesu, meine Freude

Sunday Sounds

The Tord Gustavsen Trio’s superb recent album The Other Side was my Recording of the Month back last October, and I concluded that:

“This is music that has the power to take us by surprise, to deeply move and supremely delight. The Tord Gustavsen Trio emerge not simply as three musicians at the top of their game, but as consummate masters of the Trio form, delivering a classic album that is far more than the sum of its parts.”

I also noted that rapt religious sentiment prevailed on the album, especially with the inclusion of three J.S. Bach chorale melodies as launchpads to the trio’s musical explorations, noting:

“These veer between heartfelt depth and ecstatic utterance, offering the album’s most intense pinnacles, and perhaps an invitation to join the trio and ascend to more hallowed ground.”

This Easter Sunday, it seems particularly apt to include this astonishing jazz trio meditation on Bach’s beloved setting of the chorale, ‘Jesu, mine Freude – do have a listen:


You can read my full review of the album here if you are interested.

And it’s available to purchase from Amazon UK here.


Sunday Sounds showcases great keyboard music featuring players past and present, from classic recordings to great new music discoveries.

Pianodao is free to all, but funded with the help of reader generosity.
Please show your support with a small donation if you can. Thank you!

The Piano Music of Otilie Suková

Sheet Music Review

Otilie Suková was the daughter of Antonín Dvořák and the wife of Josef Suk. A gifted musician, she played the piano and wrote several compositions of her own, inspired by her musical surroundings.

Four of her piano pieces have survived; three were published in her lifetime, a fourth ‘To Dear Daddy has never previously been published.

Now Bärenreiter have produced a typically gorgeous urtext edition of the four pieces, edited by Eva Prchalová.



I’ve been playing them, and they are lovely. Here’s my review…

Continue reading The Piano Music of Otilie Suková

More Piano Sight-Reading from ABRSM

Sheet Music Review

I Back in 2008, ABRSM published a series of books called Piano Specimen Sight-Reading Tests. Although deserving an award for having the most utilitarian and uninspiring titles in my whole music collection, they have nonetheless rarely been out of action in the intervening years.

In short, they were an essential purchase for any piano teacher preparing students for ABRSM’s world-leading piano grade examinations, and have seen very active service over many years.

Since 2008, many others have brought out alternative products to help teachers and students prepare for the sight-reading element of ABRSM exams. Paul Harris’s ubiquitous and respected Improve Your Sight-Reading series has been updated more than once, and now includes audio tracks. Useful and innovative alternatives have also appeared from Alan Bullard, Samantha Coates, e-music maestro and several others.

Now ABRSM return with a new series bearing the slightly-less scary title More Piano Sight-Reading, a suite of eight new books, one to tie in with each of their grades.

A superficial look at the eight books suggests that these aren’t radically different from their predecessors (which, I should add, are still valid, as the syllabus itself remains unchanged). However, a more detailed look reveals several tweaks and changes to the format which, between them, make the new books a step-improvement on the older ones.

For this review, I will focus on five specific improvements which I think make this new series a superior alternative to the previous books.

Continue reading More Piano Sight-Reading from ABRSM

The Makings of a Superstar

An interview with teenage piano sensation Eva Gevorgyan.

At the tender age of just 14, Russian pianist Eva Gevorgyan has astonished audiences across Europe, Israel and the USA with her deeply felt musicality, dazzling technique and mature musical intelligence.

A student at the prestigious Central Music School for Gifted Children at the Moscow Conservatory since she was six years old (where she studies with Natalia Trull), Eva is gaining recognition as one of the brightest stars to emerge from Russia in recent years.

In 2019, Eva became the Discovery Winner at the ICMA (International Classical Music Awards). She is among 24 pianists who went through to the 1st round of The Cliburn Competition, and was named a piano student-in-residence at the Verbier Festival this year.

Here she is performing Liszt’s Rhapsodie espagnole, S.254:

Eva has performed for the Italian President, and recently quizzed Russian President Vladimir Putin in a live TV debate about possible reforms for the Specialist Music education in her homeland.

It was a privilege to witness her first UK performance, recently held in the Elgar Room at London’s prestigious Royal Albert Hall, and one of the highlights of this year’s Elena Cobb Star Prize Festival.

Afterwards, with Elena’s support as a translator, I was able to chat with Eva backstage…

Continue reading The Makings of a Superstar

Piano Star Theory

Sheet Music Review

ABRSM’s Piano Star series of books for children have been warmly received since their introduction a couple of years ago, their pieces regularly appearing in student concerts, festivals, the Prep Test and Grade 1 exams.

Last year the original series of three progressive books of fresh new repertoire grew to include a book of “Five Finger Tunes at the entry level, and a “Piano Star Grade 1 book at the upper end (reviewed here).


And now there’s another addition: the Piano Star Theory primer is published this week. Let’s take a look…

Continue reading Piano Star Theory

Einaudi’s Seven Days Walking

Sheet Music Review

Ludovico Einaudi’s legion of fans worldwide are no doubt already enjoying his latest release; Seven Days Walking: Day One was released in mid-March, and is to be followed by six further albums, each offering fresh variants on the first, culminating in a boxed set later in the year.

Hot on its heels comes the sheet music publication of the album, brought to us by publishers Chester Music and distributed by Hal Leonard.

For more information read on…

Continue reading Einaudi’s Seven Days Walking

Dohnányi’s Complete Solo Piano Works

Recording of the Month

In his recent interview for Pianodao, concert pianist Martin Roscoe enthusiastically discussed his long-held ambition to record a complete series of the solo piano works of the great Hungarian composer and polymath Ernő Dohnányi (1877-1960).

Now that ambition reaches its fulfilment, culminating in the fourth and final release in Roscoe’s recorded Dohnányi cycle for Hyperion Records, released this month, and an easy choice for Pianodao’s Recording of the Month.



I’ve been a fan of Dohnányi’s music for several years, not least knowing that my own teacher Joseph Weingarten had been one of his students in Budapest Academy. I’ve been collecting Roscoe’s recordings since the series started, and have been eagerly awaiting this final issue.

Before reviewing the CD itself, here’s a short introduction to the composer and music…

Continue reading Dohnányi’s Complete Solo Piano Works