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The Pianodao Bookshelf

The Pianodao Bookshelf includes reviews of biographies and books that will be of interest to piano players and educators.

Reviews of books which address lifestyle are included elsewhere in the Pathways for Living section of the site, while books about Daoist philosophy and Qigong instruction are included in the Qigong for Pianists section.

Here, you can browse reviews of those books which specifically address piano playing, teaching, history and the lives of musicians.

For further information about Pianodao reviews, please read my Review Policy here.

Latest Additions to the Library:

How to Practise Music: The Reviews

Since the international publication of my book HOW TO PRACTISE MUSIC, I have been thrilled and touched by the many wonderful comments I have received and reviews that have appeared. Here is a new, updated selection…

The Symphony: From Mannheim to Mahler

With impeccable timing at the start of a new academic year, Faber Music have just released The Symphony: From Mannheim to Mahler, an accessible new guide written by Christopher Tarrant and Natalie Wild, which hopes (and deserves) to become a standard text for A’ level snd undergraduate students. Here’s the Pianodao review:

More Than Music Lessons

Merlin B. Thompson’s book “More than Music Lessons” is one of those books which could prove to be a game-changer for any instrumental teacher who takes time to absorb and apply the author’s key messages…

Paul Harris: Unconditional Teaching

Paul Harris’s latest book, “Unconditional Teaching”, is without question a profoundly rewarding read. I simply cannot recommend it highly enough.Here’s the Pianodao review…

The Piano: A History in 100 Pieces

Susan Tomes’ latest book, “The Piano: A History in 100 Pieces” is quite simply an essential purchase for any piano enthusiast, offering as it does a veritable feast of salient information and insight into the instrument and music which we love so much. Here’s the Pianodao review…

Musicians Who Teach

I have no hesitation in recommending this book as an essential primer that should be required reading for all who teach singing or a musical instrument in the UK. Buy it, absorb it, and you will certainly have no regrets!

Howard Smith: Note for Note

“I recognise that for some readers my book contains controversial views about teaching methods. Avoidance of premature rote, obsessive unblocking, imaginary pianos, mental performance, visualisation, out-of-body introspection… not everyone will agree. I hope however to have been respectful to all who bring the joy of music to their pupils. There are many ways to learn to play a musical instrument. This has been my story, nothing more, nothing less.” Howard Smith’s Note for Note is essential reading for 2021. Here’s the Pianodao review.

Mindfulness in Sound

Mindfulness in Sound is at once entertaining, interesting, absorbing and challenging. And though less-directly concerned with the art of music-making, this seemingly slight volume offers up a surprisingly deep and rich mix of helpful information and inspiration. Here’s the Pianodao review…

Blood, Sweat and Tours

Here is a book which offers much insight into the world of the performing musician, one which deserves to grace the shelves of anyone interested in the world of classical music in the latter 20th and early 21st centuries, or for that matter considering a life in music.

Memoirs of an Accompanist

Hot off the press comes the autobiography of Helmut Deutsch, one of the most successful and sought-after lieder accompanists of our time. Deutsch has accompanied, both on stage and in the recording studio, the likes of Hermann Prey, Olaf Bär, Brigitte Fassbaender, Jonas Kaufmann and many others. His is a career and life in music that will surely yield both insight and a rich seam of anecdote, so let’s take a look…

Penelope Roskell’s ‘Complete Pianist’

Without question, Penelope Roskell’s The Complete Pianist is the most monumental publication yet to arrive for review, and with 560 large format pages, 250 newly-devised exercises and more than 300 supporting online videos, I can well believe that it’s the most comprehensive book ever written on piano playing! Intrigued? I bet! So let’s take a closer look…

Listening through the lens

Listening through the lens is the recently published memoir of BAFTA-award winning documentary-maker Christopher Nupen, who has made more than 70 productions on classical music and musicians. Nupen’s pioneering portrait-films count among their subjects Daniel Barenboim, Jacqueline du Pré, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Itzhak Perlman, Andrés Segovia, Alice Herz-Sommer, Yevgeny Kissin and Daniil Trifonov, many of whom have become lifelong friends. In his book, Nupen tells the story of his varied and often astonishing life…

Paul Harris: Cancer and Positivity

Replete with Paul’s trademark intellectual curiosity and thought-provoking insight at every turn, Cancer and Positivity is ultimately a warm and hugely inspiring account of one man’s triumph over adversity.

The Waco Variations

Rhonda Rizzo’s superb novel explores the transformative power that music – good music – can have in all our lives.

Mindfulness in Music

Mark Tanner’s new book traces vivid connections between mindfulness and music which are not only tangible, but also genuinely thrilling…

The Piano Teacher’s Survival Guide

Once in a while a book appears which must be considered essential, an instant classic, and this is one such publication. The Piano Teacher’s Survival Guide instantly establishes itself as the very best practical manual available for today’s piano teachers.

Mark Tanner’s ‘The Mindful Pianist’

“…a landmark within the pianist’s literature, becoming one of those few truly essential books for anyone who has an interest in the world of piano playing and teaching.”

The Art of Piano Fingering

There are many good books on piano technique, but few which I would consider as trustworthy and useful as this…



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