Playing the Piano “for Fun”?

I recently asked the members of an online piano teaching forum the following question:

“I want to learn to play piano for fun…”
What do you think when pupils/parents say this to you?

Perhaps it’s no surprise that answers ranged from “Get a trampoline!” at one end of the spectrum to “Great – that’s the best reason!” at the other. And the constructive debate that followed proved to be very interesting and enlightening. 

With this in mind, I would like to share a few of my own views and hope this will encourage further thought and ongoing discussion within the teaching and piano community.

Continue reading Playing the Piano “for Fun”?

Music Collaboration Online

SoundCloud has become, since its inception in August 2007, the website of choice for collaborating musicians, offering them the ability to freely upload tracks, sharing them privately with selected recipients, downloading, and leaving timed comments.

It’s been a simple but winning formula that has won considerable popularity against more complex rival collaborative offerings.

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Motivation: one size doesn’t fit all

Guest Post by Karen Marshall

What is motivation and how does it relate to music teaching?

Motivation is all to do with thoughts and tasks becoming actions.

There are 10,050 minutes between one 30 minute weekly music lesson and the next – or 10,020 minutes for a weekly hour music lesson.

Here are some ideas to hopefully motivate students to use the time in between lessons musically!

Continue reading Motivation: one size doesn’t fit all

3 Basic Lifestyle Questions

My battered copy of Deng Ming-Dao’s classic ‘365 Tao Daily Mediations’ has been a remarkable gift over the years, but even now I find myself reading passages as if they are brand new.

I was recently struck by the personal relevance of its very simple, practical advice in the following passage, which deals with the reasons we sometimes feel “out of sorts”.

Continue reading 3 Basic Lifestyle Questions

The Definitive Bartók Edition?

Sheet Music Review

It is 1975. In the living room of a Victorian house in the middle of Bedford sits a nine-year-old boy at the piano. Fired by a life-changing encounter with the music of Mozart he recently started lessons, and dreams of one day “going in for” music.

For now though, he stares quizzically at the somewhat forbidding book on the music stand – 32 Klavierstücke by somebody called Béla Bartók. His piano teacher has set the first two pieces this week – The Little Lane and Game.

But what kind of music is this?? Very odd… but enchanting!

Four decades later, and one of the greatest joys and privileges I experience as a piano teacher is to see – time and time again – piano students young and old experience this same epiphany, this first discovery of the beguiling beauty and brilliance of Bartók’s extraordinary music for piano.

Continue reading The Definitive Bartók Edition?

Burgmüller: 25 Easy & Progressive Studies Op.100

J.F.F.Burgmüller (1806-1875) was a popular pianist based in Paris who improvised hundreds of Salon Pieces as well as composing a wide range of instrumental music.

He is best known today for his Piano Exercises, notable the 25 Easy and Progressive Studies Op.100. Although called “studies”, and very beneficial for piano playing technique, these are actually very attractive pieces which remain favourites with students of all ages.

I have recorded all 25 of these popular pieces as a resource to help students, and am making the recordings publicly available here so that other players and teachers can have a listen and freely download them for a limited time.

Individual tracks can be freely downloaded from my SoundCloud page here.

I hope you find these recordings useful – and perhaps feel inspired to play these very enjoyable classics for yourself!

The Sheet Music is available from Musicroom here.


I hope that you found this article helpful.
Pianodao is FREE to all, but funded with the help of reader donations.



The “8 Pianos” Project

Interview with pianist and composer Dirk Maassen

With a huge following on sites including SoundCloud, Spotify and YouTube, Dirk Maassen is surely one of Germany’s most listened-to contemporary piano composers.

Continue reading The “8 Pianos” Project

Making the World a Better Place

On Saturday evening, a student piano concert took place here in Milton Keynes. It was one of a couple of concerts I organise each year, giving young players and adults alike the opportunity to perform to a supportive audience, so developing their confidence and maturity in musical communication – and raising money for charity in the process.

Continue reading Making the World a Better Place

Improve your Music Theory!

Sheet Music Review

ABRSM’s CEO Michael Elliott has reportedly said:

“Separating theory from practice can’t be a good thing.”

While this is a great soundbite for those promoting theory courses, the obvious irony here is that ABRSM have themselves – for generations – separated music theory from practice in their own examination syllabus and published materials.

Paul Harris’s new series ‘Improve your Theory!’, written for students preparing for ABRSM Theory Grades 1-5, aims to change this situation for the better.

Introducing the series, publishers Faber Music explain that:

“Firmly rooted in Paul Harris’s Simultaneous Learning approach, it will transform how music theory is taught and learnt, improving every aspect of musicianship along the way. Never before has theory been so fun or seemed so natural!”

The books have already been awarded “Best Print Resource 2016” at the Music Teacher Awards for Excellence, so let’s see if they live up to the hype…

Continue reading Improve your Music Theory!

Radical Resources for Sight-Reading

Sheet Music Reviews

One of the certainties of my professional life in music has been the frequency with which I am asked to sight-read. This can include accompaniments at rehearsals, auditions, and even public concerts. More informally I often find myself sight-reading when pupils bring their own choices of pieces to learn. So I am very grateful to those teachers who, often in spite of my protests, ensured that sight-reading was a part of my musical learning.

Karen Marshall’s recent article  A Practical Guide to Teaching Sight-reading’  has been warmly received with more than 2,000 readers already turning to it for advice since it was published at the weekend. This shows the extent to which piano teachers are keen to discover effective ways to teach sight-reading.

As a follow up, I am now going to overview two recent series of publications which aim to break the mould and make sight-reading more relevant and pleasurable than is often the case – innovative and exciting publications which I am sure readers will want to explore…

Continue reading Radical Resources for Sight-Reading