The Christmas Shortlist

Products featured on Pianodao are selected for review by ANDREW EALES.
When you purchase using the site’s retail links, Pianodao may earn a small commission, but this does not affect the price you pay.

GET ADVICE ON YOUR PLAYING


The Pianodao Music Library includes a wide range of seasonally-themed piano publications to suit all tastes and levels of playing. Keeping track of it all, especially as new publications appear from one year to the next, isn’t easy. Wouldn’t it be good to have a simple list of it all? Well, here it is…

The Christmas Shortlist opens the door to this wealth of wonderful music, bringing together links to all of this site’s reviews of seasonal repertoire in one place, guided by level.

Best of all, the list automatically updates whenever new titles are added, so you can come back year after year. Remember to bookmark this page for future reference!

And don’t forget that Pianodao Tea Room members receive a 20% discount from Musicroom for these and all sheet music publications.

Continue reading The Christmas Shortlist

Easy Christmas Piano Books

Products featured on Pianodao are selected for review by ANDREW EALES.
When you purchase using the site’s retail links, Pianodao may earn a small commission, but this does not affect the price you pay.

GET ADVICE ON YOUR PLAYING


The Christmas season is accompanied by a uniquely popular and significant body of music spanning multiple genres, and it’s no wonder that there are so many varied piano collections to choose from, whatever your level…

Continue reading Easy Christmas Piano Books

June Armstrong’s Music Box

Products featured on Pianodao are selected for review by ANDREW EALES.
When you purchase using the site’s retail links, Pianodao may earn a small commission, but this does not affect the price you pay.

GET ADVICE ON YOUR PLAYING


June Armstrong is a quite simply a marvel. Respected worldwide as one of our most musically distinctive and rewarding educational composers, and for the understated quality of her publications (which she brings to the world via her own business Pianissimo Publishing), Armstrong has both made a huge impact and succeeded on her own terms.

The Pianodao Music Library already includes reviews of several of June Armstrong’s previous collections.

Now her latest collection, the superb Music Box, has arrived. With this new publication, Armstrong brings us 27 new compositions for elementary players (around UK Grades 1-3), with each piece celebrating a different musical instrument from around the world.

Let’s open it up…

Continue reading June Armstrong’s Music Box

Donald Thomson’s Halloween Piano Tunes

Products featured on Pianodao are selected for review by ANDREW EALES.
When you purchase using the site’s retail links, Pianodao may earn a small commission, but this does not affect the price you pay.

GET ADVICE ON YOUR PLAYING


Having only just reviewed the Willis Music’s Halloween anthology Spooky Sounds here’s another dastardly publication, this time from EVC Music and scaring us with 19 original pieces from the excellent Donald Thomson.

I have previously praised Thomson’s Celtic Piano Music (reviewed here), and am equally enthusiastic about this collection. Let’s open it up to find out what’s lurking within…

Continue reading Donald Thomson’s Halloween Piano Tunes

Willis Music’s ‘Strange Sounds’

Products featured on Pianodao are selected for review by ANDREW EALES.
When you purchase using the site’s retail links, Pianodao may earn a small commission, but this does not affect the price you pay.

GET ADVICE ON YOUR PLAYING


With autumn well upon us, and a new school year firmly underway, many teachers and players will no doubt be looking for repertoire to enjoy as we approach Halloween.

Each year I am asked to recommend suitable music for the annual spook-fest, and for elementary to early intermediate players, around UK Grades 1-3, a recent compilation of “10 Bewitching Piano Solos” from The Willis Music Company could be just the ticket.

Intrigued? Let’s tiptoe through the gate and investigate the secrets within…

Continue reading Willis Music’s ‘Strange Sounds’

Rendezvous at the Zoo

Products featured on Pianodao are selected for review by ANDREW EALES.
When you purchase using the site’s retail links, Pianodao may earn a small commission, but this does not affect the price you pay.

GET ADVICE ON YOUR PLAYING


Jennifer Linn is one of America’s most respected educational composers, authors and arrangers, with dozens of titles to her name. These include several collections of her own compositions, arrangements of music from popular shows, the Hal Leonard Piano for Teens method, and several award-winning classical editions in the Schirmer Performance library.

Many of Linn’s publications are best-sellers in the US, but most are less well-known here in the UK. Her latest publication is Rendezvous at the Zoo, and will certainly be of interest to anyone teaching children at early elementary level, regardless where in the world they are based… so let’s take a look!

Continue reading Rendezvous at the Zoo

ABRSM: Pop Performer!

Products featured on Pianodao are selected for review by ANDREW EALES.
When you purchase using the site’s retail links, Pianodao may earn a small commission, but this does not affect the price you pay.

GET ADVICE ON YOUR PLAYING


There has long been speculation that at some point ABRSM would launch a pop piano syllabus, but they have perhaps sensibly resisted any call to do so.

The wide disparity and significant difference in approach taken by Rockschool Piano and Trinity Rock and Pop Keyboards illustrates the difficulty in creating a syllabus that is both helpful and true to the skills required by keyboard players in the contemporary commercial sphere.

Some forget, too, that the four Royal Schools of Music affiliated to ABRSM don’t offer specialist courses in this field. And then there’s the issue of copyright clearances: ABRSM simply don’t have access to the latest chart material without permission and significant cost.

Happily, ABRSM have now addressed this last hurdle by teaming up with Hal Leonard, the world’s largest sheet music publishers, who represent the rights to an unparalleled catalogue of commercial hits. It is certainly to the board’s credit that they can both recognise their own core strengths and collaborate with so prestigious a partner.

Enter Pop Performer!, two books of solo piano arrangements of contemporary pop standards and chart hits carefully graded for players from Initial to Grade 5 level. These striking publications look like the work of ABRSM, with songs arranged by examiners and looking little different to the pieces in their official exam repertoire books. But with Hal Leonard’s stamp equally evident in the songs, not to mention the inclusion of their online audio Playback+ software, it’s clear that this is an equal and exciting partnership.

Pop Performer! is neither a new syllabus, nor a hint that one is on its way. On the contrary, these are arrangements that can be played for enjoyment by those taking ABRSM’s traditional grades, and the board makes much of the important point that they can be used as ideal fourth pieces for their recorded Performance Grades.

In other words, what we have here is the option to include commercial popular hits, carefully curated, arranged and benchmarked, alongside and within ABRSM’s existing exam offer.

I’ll state upfront that I think this is a brilliant concept, am impressed with the books, and anticipate that they will be the most essential “must-have” purchase for piano teachers and students in this new academic year. So let’s take a much closer look…

Continue reading ABRSM: Pop Performer!

Nikki Iles & Friends: Easy to Intermediate

Products featured on Pianodao are selected for review by ANDREW EALES.
When you purchase using the site’s retail links, Pianodao may earn a small commission, but this does not affect the price you pay.

GET ADVICE ON YOUR PLAYING


Reviewing the first two volumes in the ABRSM series Nikki Iles and Friends when they appeared in April 2021, I concluded:

“I have no hesitation in declaring this series an “epic win” for ABRSM. Don’t hesitate in getting copies!”

Suitable for intermediate to advanced players (UK Grades 4-8), the books have proven popular with players in my studio here in Milton Keynes and elsewhere. You can read my full review here.

Somewhat sneaking under the radar, a third book has now been added to the series. Nikki Iles & Friends: Easy to Intermediate will, I am certain, have huge appeal to players who are less advanced.


The sensibly age-neutral cover matches the designs of the previous two books, but beyond that there are some points of departure worth noting, so let’s take a closer look…

Continue reading Nikki Iles & Friends: Easy to Intermediate

‘Graded Gillock’: Three New Collections

Products featured on Pianodao are selected for review by ANDREW EALES.
When you purchase using the site’s retail links, Pianodao may earn a small commission, but this does not affect the price you pay.

GET ADVICE ON YOUR PLAYING


I have long been an admirer of the brilliant piano music of William Lawson Gillock (1917-1993), so it is with huge pleasure and a sense of pride that I can now announce that, in conjunction with the Willis Music Company, I have selected and edited a new series of ‘graded’ collections showcasing a varied range of his best pieces.

Graded Gillock appears in three volumes, now available:


There’s little doubt in my mind that Gillock was one of the most significant educational piano composers of the twentieth century, as adept at turning out distinctively memorable and colourful piano pieces in an accessible style as he was at engaging the imaginations and enthusiasm of young learners, in doing so paving the way for today’s educational composers.

Gillock is perhaps best known here in the UK for his evocatively bluesy New Orleans Nightfall, stomping Swinging Beat and Latin-infused Carnival in Rio, all of which have been popular graded exam pieces in recent years. But what of his other music?

For this new series, I have used these favourites as a starting point, working with the composer’s long-term publisher Willis Music to explore and select Gillock’s most enjoyable and pedagogically useful music.

Continue reading ‘Graded Gillock’: Three New Collections

South African Folk Songs Collection

Products featured on Pianodao are selected for review by ANDREW EALES.
When you purchase using the site’s retail links, Pianodao may earn a small commission, but this does not affect the price you pay.

GET ADVICE ON YOUR PLAYING


Last October, I welcomed Artina McCain’s African American Folk Songs Collection, reviewed here, and took as sideways look at several other titles from Hal Leonard’s uniformly excellent series of elementary to intermediate piano solo arrangements of music from around the world.

Now I am delighted to introduce the latest title to this superb series. The South African Folk Songs Collection contains 24 traditional folk songs arranged by James Wilding and Nkululeko Zungu, and is now available.


Here’s the Pianodao review…

Continue reading South African Folk Songs Collection