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Your Summer Update
I’ve recently returned from a short break camping on the Scottish coast with a good friend of mine.
Whenever I take a break, it comes as a powerful reminder that there is life beyond the routines of my studio, removed from the siren call of the internet, away from the pressures of career and life demand and goals.
Holidays, preferably including a change of scenery, provide this special place where we can unwind, take stock, and pause for a moment to evaluate where we are in our journey through life. Once we return to our usual routines, the challenge is to retain some of the wellbeing benefits we have accumulated during our down time.
Whatever your plans this summer, I hope you too will cherish space for relaxation, refreshment, happiness, and renewal. And most of all, I hope you will be able to carry that forward into the months ahead.
Here’s a couple of posts from my Pathways for Wellbeing series which I hope you might find helpful food for thought:
As in life, so too in our piano playing, let’s take time to linger awhile with our old friends…
The start of any new year or season is for many a time for making resolutions: for ambition, grit and determination.
But what are the ingredients of perseverance which will foster that success?
New Publications Reviewed
In June I reviewed a couple of major new publications. In case you missed them:
I cannot state urgently enough how highly I rate and strongly recommend these three volumes. Beautifully presented, but modestly priced, they indisputably establish a new benchmark for teaching children a healthy piano technique. Ignoring them is not an option!
Oozing class, and filled with such a good selection of high quality pieces and arrangements, it seems to me that Faber Music have gone to extra lengths to make this book a hugely rewarding one, suitable for players from around Grades 4-6.
There’s plenty more new music awaiting review at present, and in July readers can look forward to reviews of music by three popular film composers, Hal Leonard’s new Calming Piano Solos series, the latest publications from Schott Music, and new collections by Brian Davidson and Adrian Lord.
Elena Cobb Star Prize Festival
It was my privilege to recently attend this year’s Elena Cobb Star Prize Festival in the Elgar Room at London’s Royal Albert Hall.
Young players from around the world are invited to take part, performing music predominantly handpicked from the EVC catalogue, this year including performances from youngsters from as far afield as Canada, the USA, Colombia, the UK, Ukraine, and even Australia.
From a personal perspective, the Festival offers a golden opportunity to hear music from the many EVC publications that I have reviewed here brought brilliantly to life in superb performances, many accompanied by a professional house band, which further adds to the sense that this is a uniquely brilliant and life-changing event for families taking part.
Here’s a spotlight on Pianodao reviews of some of my favourite publications that were featured at the event:
Paul Birchall’s ‘Daily Expressions’ books are a welcome addition to the late intermediate repertoire, offering characterful contemporary pieces which will appeal to players at around UK Grade 5-6 level.
“Sam Wedgwood’s Project” comprises two collections of inspiring contemporary pieces in pop and jazz styles, composed specially for players at around Grade 3-4 level.
Victoria Proudler’s brilliantly catchy pieces are going to be a real hit, motivating young players while also raising the quality of their musicianship. This first collection is suitable at Initial to Grade 1 level…
Heather Hammond’s ‘Grooves for Piano Dudes’ is another triumph: a series for intermediate players that sets a high bar in terms of consistent musical quality and enjoyment.
Paul Birchall’s “Blues, Boogie, Jazz & More” does not disappoint. There are many resources available for learning to play popular music styles these days, but as is their custom EVC Music have released a winner here..
Nancy Litten’s ‘Piano Postcards’ offers “12 Recital Piano Works Inspired by Travel”, suitable for intermediate players at around UK Grade 3-4 level. Let’s take a look…
Bringing together all 20 pieces from Donald Thomson’s previous four Celtic collections, Celtic Piano Music is a publication to celebrate and treasure. Let’s take a look…
“New York Nights” offers the more advanced player a veritable “greatest hits” of Philip Martin’s more accessible pieces, and promises to be an essential purchase…
Birds: Études-Tableaux is a recent collection of six pieces composed by Andrew Higgins and published by EVC Music Publications, and subtitled modern virtuoso studies. If you’ll pardon the pun, it perfectly fits the bill!
These are rewarding compositions for advanced players (Grade 6-8), which brilliantly evoke the paintings that inspired them…
As she continues in her passionate drive to promote the music of others, we must hope that Elena Cobb also continues to exercise her own wonderful, musical voice.
Meanwhile, these two collections include some superb music that we can enjoy today!
Nikki Iles has done it again! Piano Tales for Peter Pan delivers another delicious mix of her trademark wit, imagination, and jazz-tinged brilliance.
Here’s my original review of “Piano Tales for Alice” by Nikki Iles, which as I rightly anticipated has gone on to become a hugely popular best-seller….
If you are interested in playing any of this music, feel free to discuss it with me and preview the scores in a lesson, or share your playing using my Video Feedback Service to receive personalised advice and support.
Speaking of which…
Here’s a lovely piece of feedback that I received this month from an adult learner from Ireland who is preparing for her performing diploma, and who used my Video Feedback Service for support:
“I found this to be a fantastic resource. I struggled with preparing a diploma program once I had the basics of the pieces mastered. Planning to send in a video for review helped with my motivation to practise and plan ahead to work on tricky areas. The feedback was an absolutely fantastic balance of praise and encouragement (which I really needed) and advice on ways to improve the pieces. Everything Andrew suggested was really clear and also practical (I could action it immediately).
I am delighted I tried this service out. It was exactly what I needed. A top class service that was easy to access, friendly communications and the response time was actually much quicker than I expected.”
D.K. (adult player)
There are presently no vacancies for regular students, but let me know if you would like to be on the reserve list for September. Find out more
The Performance Club will meet on Monday 10th July and Monday 14th August at the Chrysalis Theatre. Find out more
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