For music teachers and students struggling through the last five months, with the UK in lockdown, there has been a significant preoccupation with the problem that music examining boards have been struggling to adapt to the situation.
On the social media platforms and forums where I am active, I have seen regular and very significant complaints about all three of the traditional boards here in the UK. But throughout these challenges, one fully accredited music exam board has stood out from the crowd by a country mile.
Many teachers hadn’t even heard of the Music Teachers’ Board at the start of the year. But this changed overnight with the appearance of effective targeted advertisements online trumpeting a bold claim:
“MTB’s Grade 1-8 exams are to continue without disruption during this difficult period.”
The progression from intrigue to full commitment has been startling, many teachers who were formally loyal to ABRSM or one of the other boards posting online to praise the MTB Exams having tried them out and had hugely positive experiences.
Determined to get to the bottom of this, I tracked down MTB’s Chief Examiner Mark Kesel for this remote interview. And in a second feature I talk to some of those teachers who have tried out these exams with their students, asking them about their experiences.
Iyad Sughayer has been quietly establishing a reputation as one of our brightest upcoming pianists, appearing as soloist with the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, European Union Chamber Orchestra and the Cairo and Amman Symphony Orchestras, as well as giving solo performances in such prestigious venues as London’s Wigmore Hall and King’s Place, Manchester’s Bridgewater Hall and the Steinway-Haus in Hamburg.
Now he has released his debut recording on the BIS label. A brilliantly conceived and executed disc of solo piano works by Aram Khachaturian (1903-78), the recording is certainly a stunning showcase for the brilliant talents of this young player, who delivers performances of the utmost musical conviction and power.
Rami Bar-Niv will be known to some readers as an acclaimed concert pianist, recording artist, renowned pedagogue and author of the outstanding book, The Art of Piano Fingering (which I have reviewed here).
Before discovering any of this, I first encountered the genial musician when running an online group for composers; Rami became an active contributor, and I was immediately struck by the quality of his original music in an engaging contemporary classical style.
It is a privilege to have this opportunity to chat with Rami about his composing career, and there are many insights here which Pianodao readers will undoubtedly find interesting and helpful…
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…
Exclusive interview with best-selling author Samantha Coates
Sydney-based music teacher and author Samantha Coates dazzled at this year’s Music Education Expo event, with a presentation brimming with energy and enthusiasm.
It was a pleasure to catch up with her afterwards to talk about her publications. In a warm, wide-ranging conversation, we discussed the importance of literacy, music theory and sight-reading, as well as Samantha’s recently developed passion for rote teaching.
But first I wanted to know more about Samantha’s back story …
Exclusive Interview with concert pianist Martin Roscoe
As Hyperion Records release the fourth and final disc in Martin Roscoe’s survey of the solo piano music of Ernő Dohnányi it was a delight to have the chance to ask Martin about his Dohnányi odyssey, which has taken so much of his time over recent years.
I was keen to know more about how this extraordinary project came about, and the impact it has made on pianist and audiences alike …
Marcel Zidani’s Hey Presto! is billed as a “first piano lessons” book for older beginners aged 11 and upwards.
The subtitle – pedal your way to piano perfection– reveals something of the book’s unique approach, and like many I was intrigued when it first appeared a couple of summers ago.
Reviewing Hey Presto! at the time, I found much to love about Marcel’s method and music, while noting a few minor concerns. Since then, Marcel has responded to the feedback received from teachers and is now back with a thorough reworking of the concept and a brand-new edition of Hey Presto!
So what better time to catch up with Marcel for a chat, find out what motivates Hey Presto! and ask how he has improved on the original publication…
Editions Musica Ferrum have recently brought out two volumes of pieces in a new series called Mosaic, featuring original music by a dozen or so composers, organised by difficulty level and suitable for beginner to early intermediate players.
I have enjoyed the privilege of contributing to the project, with two of my own compositions included in each book so far, and more to come!
I decided to catch up with Editions Musica Ferrum founder Nikolas Sideris and ask him more about the project…
Until fairly recently, two big names dominated the world of music notation software: Make Music’s Finale and Avid’s Sibelius.
Other software – such as Presonus’ Notion and the free-to-use MuseScore have continued to challenge their supremacy, but with the October 2016 release of Dorico it was clear that a significant professional alternative had arrived on the scene, causing quite a stir.
The backstory has been repeated many times elsewhere – how Avid decided to close their London office in 2012, leaving their existing Sibelius development team – headed by Daniel Spreadbury – without their jobs.
By the start of 2013, music software giants Steinberg Media Technologies – a wholly owned subsidiary of Yamaha, and the creators of the VST standard, Cubase, Nuendo and Wavelab – had snapped up the team and tasted them with creating a brand new notation package from the ground up. Enter Dorico …
In this interview, I will be chatting with Daniel about his career in the music software world, the development of Dorico, and the birth of version 2.0.