Do you believe in classical music?

Wonderful news: the latest figures from the BPI reveal that sales and streaming of recorded classical music grew by 10.2% in the last twelve months.

This compares to the much lower 5.7% growth in other genres. In fact, classical CD sales grew by 6.9%, while most other genres actually saw a decline in sales. And online streaming of classical music grew by a whopping 42%, compared to the 33% rise in the overall market. These figures are presented and discussed in this BBC News article.

Some will no doubt quibble over the specific artists and composers featured in the statistics, and we must admit that the categories formulated by salespeople and marketeers rarely tell the whole story.

But those of us who really believe in classical music won’t be surprised by its upsurge and enduring popularity. We know that once people encounter good music, it can wield its transformative power.

It is odd, then, that some piano teaching colleagues seem to avoid classical music, unless and until it is specifically requested by a student or otherwise required. Why is this?

Continue reading Do you believe in classical music?

The Pianodao Tea Room

The Pianodao site has grown and developed into an established professional resource for piano players and teachers around the world. 

While the standard content of Pianodao remains free to readers, running the site and writing regular new content takes up a lot of time and effort.

Would you be willing to become a regular supporter and sponsor the site for as little as just £2.00 a month?

For Regular Supporters…

I have set up the Pianodao Tea Room as an exclusive private group for regular supporters. It’s my way of saying “Thank You”, while also offering a few exclusive extras:

  • a private community for discussing piano playing, teaching and living;
  • occasional online “events” and live discussions;
  • previews and input into forthcoming Pianodao articles/reviews;
  • additional reviews and content not directly published on Pianodao;
  • links to more great content and opinion from around the internet.

There are of course many useful online forums where pianists and teachers network and look for advice. But many say they would prefer a more private and safe environment to do so, and I’m hoping that the Pianodao Tea Room will help meet that need. To that end, membership numbers will be carefully limited.

The Pianodao Tea Room is hosted as a private Facebook community group. A Facebook account is necessary in order to join but all discussions are private, closed away from public view.

I am delighted that my wife Louise Eales RMN is helping to run the group. Louise is a clinical specialist in child and adolescent mental health, as well as a writing partner. She will I am sure offer many valuable insights.

Continue reading The Pianodao Tea Room

Your Story: Simon Reich

Your Stories

Simon Reich is a pianist and award-winning composer from Victoria, Australia. He has written several articles published here on the Pianodao site.

Simon’ latest post tells of how he has, in later life, turned to music as a full-time professional, and his experiences training as a media composer. As well as giving a special insight into his own personal journey, the post will be an encouragement to all considering a career in music.

Continue reading Your Story: Simon Reich

Practice Resolutions

Featured Image: Wolfgang Lonien

Guest post by Liz Giannopoulos

As the New Year begins, my thoughts turn to my practice routine, and I’m full of good resolutions about what, when and how I will practise.

The new term also provides an opportunity to reflect on my students’ practice habits and how I can encourage them to commit to regular and effective practice.

Continue reading Practice Resolutions

Which Adult Piano Method 2019?

Sheet Music Review

One of the most exciting developments during the span of my piano career has been the huge increase in adults taking up lessons.

There are no doubt many reasons for this; many regret not learning when they were younger, while for others, taking up piano as an adult is the next chapter in their growing musical interest.

Whatever the reason for starting lessons, the last thing most adults want is to be presented with  Jimmy Timpson’s First Piano Lessons for Tiny Tots, or a minor variation with the word “adult” cannily stamped on the front cover.

In this feature, I will showcase seven of the very best adult methods available for those starting lessons in 2019.

But first, let’s consider what a really good adult method might look like…

Continue reading Which Adult Piano Method 2019?

The Piano Student’s Humiliation

The other morning, while enjoying my first cup of tea for the day, our puppy Bella Bardóg decided to keep nudging me for attention, distracting me from reading the book in my hands. I rather thoughtlessly responded with,

“If you want the book, how about you read it to me?”

Bella looked somewhat forlorn, and my wife Louise chipped in with,

“Don’t humiliate her! You know she can’t read!”

This slightly daft domestic anecdote illustrates a hugely important truth: when we ask somebody, anybody, to do something we know they are incapable of, we humiliate them.

How often, perhaps inadvertently, do we do this to our students?

As well as an aspiring dog-whisperer, Louise is a clinical specialist in child and adolescent mental health, and it is only fitting to credit her for many of the thoughts which follow, emerging as they did from our discussion that morning…

Continue reading The Piano Student’s Humiliation

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

Accomplishment

The Fermata Series

”In the beginning of training, it may seem as if you are doing very little. You compare yourself to your teachers and to more accomplished people, and you may despair at ever reaching their levels.

“But if you are diligent, then it is inevitable that you will make something of yourself. Once you reach such a plateau, you will be able to relax a bit and contemplate where you are on your journey.”

Deng Ming-Dao,  365 Tao Daily Mediations (204).

Piano students, and adults in particular, often underestimate the time it will take to become proficient players, to play the music they aspire to, and to sound as good as they hoped.

When newcomers ask me, “how long until I can play really well?” I typically answer, “How does ten years sound?

It’s an easy (if entirely random) guess, but can be qualified by pointing out that if “really well” equates to ABRSM Grade 8 (the highest amateur qualification), then in real terms it means progressing by around one Grade per year, with a bit of slack thrown in for good measure!

But the more important truth, which I quickly bring up, is that EVERY STEP of the journey is actually a real ACCOMPLISHMENT in which the player should take satisfaction.

We may wish our skills could be multiplied, but often moving a single step at a time counts for more. Two PLUS One is actually more than Two TIMES One.

And ultimately, as piano playing is a journey with no fixed destination, it’s important that we really take time to enjoy the scenery.

If patience is really a virtue, perhaps it is because learning to appreciate each moment leads to a rewarding lifetime of happiness and health.

Fermata Series

Prelude to a Better Year

2018 has been another pretty crazy year for many around the world… but how was it for you?

If you’ve had a good year, let’s hope for an even better one in 2019.

And if 2018 wasn’t such a good vintage, well again I hope that the coming year will bring renewed hope, enthusiasm, energy and happiness to your life.

Here’s a recording of a short composition of mine which I made a few years back, and which has become one of the most popular pieces I have shared online, as well as a popular encore at my concerts.

I hope you enjoy it, and that it can be the soundtrack for your hopes as we enter the New Year together!

Andrew Eales:  “Prelude to a Better Year”

Wishing all readers and friends around the world a peaceful and prosperous year in 2019 – HAPPY NEW YEAR!


lf you would like to show your appreciation and support Pianodao, please raise a glass with me at the outset of this exciting new year …

Celebration Bubbly:

The perfect way to say “Cheers”!

£10.00

What Makes a Good Lesson?

Guest Post by Karen Marshall

A Student Perspective

Have you ever asked your student what makes a good instrumental lesson?

A number of years ago I did just that in a secondary school. There was a whole class full of students of different ages, learning different instruments with a variety of teachers.

Their feedback was enlightening. Here are the main themes, the messages I believe are still valuable.

Whilst revising this, from a personal perspective, it was a useful reminder to ask and listen more to the needs of my students and to think more creatively – especially when teaching sight reading and scales.

So, what did they say …

Continue reading What Makes a Good Lesson?