Should Piano Teaching Be Regulated?

Supporting Teachers • Promoting Learning
Written by ANDREW EALES


Please note: this intended audience for this article is UK educators. The regulation of music teaching in other countries may vary considerably, and is not discussed in this post.

The thorny question of whether piano teachers should be legally required to have particular qualifications before “being allowed” to teach cropped up online this week. Sadly, I once again found myself consoling able teachers who felt invalidated by the comments and hubris of others.

It is surely obvious that gaining qualifications should be a basic goal for all professionals. However, it seems equally evident that here in the UK, music teachers enter the profession via many different but complementary routes. A background in performing, the knowledge and skills developed in other professions and through our lived experience all contribute to who we are as teachers, and that’s a virtue which many rightly celebrate.

I believe that it is a mistake to conflate good teaching with qualifications. Consider the point that most of us can remember qualified teachers from our school days who weren’t very good. Similarly, most of us have met truly inspiring music educators with little or no formal training.

Minimum qualifications could only be mandated in a context where the music teaching profession becomes a regulated one, in which private teaching is monitored and many excellent professionals are shut out. I would hate to see this happen, and in any case very much doubt that politicians have an appetite for imposing regulatory monitoring of private tuition or musical activity in the community.

That said, for the benefit of those colleagues who are more interested in the idea, let’s consider what a regulated music teaching profession might look like, and how that might impact educational opportunity and community music making…

Continue reading Should Piano Teaching Be Regulated?

ABRSM to update their professional diplomas

Supporting Your Piano Playing Journey
Written by ANDREW EALES


Leading exam board and awarding body ABRSM have just announced their intention to replace their entire range of diploma assessments in performance, teaching and direction with a new set of qualifications by 2024.

Among the headline points, they plan to scrap the DipABRSM altogether (seemingly elevating the existing ARSM as its replacement), and replace their LRSM and FRSM diplomas with new assessments which candidates will be able to take digitally, online. We are not told whether the opportunity to take a live, face-to-face diploma exam will remain at all.

These basic points may understandably perplex some readers. For my own part, I regularly teach and prepare candidates for both ARSM and DipABRSM qualifications, so (as with many of ABRSM’s recent changes) this news will directly impact my own students and ongoing professional practice.

Continue reading ABRSM to update their professional diplomas

Why do we play the piano?

Supporting Your Piano Playing Journey
Written by ANDREW EALES


The question of why we play the piano would seem to be both an obvious one to ask and an easy one to answer. And yet it rarely is.

In this article I consider four “types” of player, while recognising that many of us combine aspects of most or all of them.

Continue reading Why do we play the piano?

Podcast with Chris Woods

Supporting Teachers • Promoting Learning
Written by ANDREW EALES


Readers may be aware of the Music Education Podcast hosted by Chris Woods of The Chris Woods Groove Orchestra and brought to us by the Soundstorm Music Education Agency.

I was honoured to recently be invited to take part. Below, you can listen to a newly released Podcast in which the genial Chris talks to me about my recently published How to Practise Music, as well as having a more general chat about the important place of practice in our musical journeys.

First, I asked Chris to introduce the podcast series in his own words, and here’s what he said:

The Music Education Podcast welcomes an exciting range of guests to chat about the things that affect the music education community and offer new and inspiring perspectives for music educators. Always packed full of insight and inspiration for all. Whatever it is you do within music education, every episode is for you.

The conversations are relaxed and honest. The tone of the conversations is like a supportive friend for all listners. It’s the questions you were scared to ask and the answers you were hoping to find.

With that in mind, I hope you will check out other podcasts in the series.

And without further ado, here’s my podcast chat with Chris:


More Information:
The Music Education Podcast
Chris Wood Groove Orchestra
SoundStorm Music Education Agency


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Essential Piano Teaching Resources 2022-23

Supporting Teachers • Promoting Learning
Written by ANDREW EALES


It can be overwhelming keeping track of all the latest and best resources for piano teaching. As we enter another academic year, I am therefore sharing this list of some of the most essential educational resources and piano music publications of the last couple of years or so.

To read my in-depth evaluations of each publication shared below, and to get a better understanding of whether it will suit your and your students’ particular needs, simply click on the titles to open the full reviews. Better still, right-click to open in a new tab.

Please bookmark this page so that you can refer back here as need arises.

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The Gamification of Musical Learning

Supporting Teachers • Promoting Learning
Written by ANDREW EALES


The rise and rise of electronic video, console and computer games over the last two decades has been spectacular. From Pokémon to Grand Theft Auto, and from Minecraft to Wii Sports, games have become hugely popular and lucrative, and some academics even suggest that they are now the dominant cultural form of the 21st century.

In his much-discussed paper Manifesto for a Ludic Century (available here), Eric Zimmerman suggests that while the twentieth century was the age of information and of moving pictures, the twenty-first is the ludic (play-centric) century. He enthuses,

“Increasingly, the ways that people spend their leisure time and consume art, design, and entertainment will be games, or experiences very much like games.”

We certainly see growing evidence of gamification in music education. In this article I consider the transformative impact this may be having, for better or worse…

Continue reading The Gamification of Musical Learning

Singing in Aural Tests: the Bottom Line

Supporting Teachers • Promoting Learning
Written by ANDREW EALES


The topic of singing in aural tests has long been a contentious one, but has become more so in recent years. Not only have growing numbers of teachers noted how unpopular the singing tests are, but research in the field of cognitive science now casts doubt on the previously assumed validity of such tests.

In this article I will explore the requirements of the five main boards, consider the links between singing and “audiation”, touch on some basic scientific research (with links for those wanting to read more) and suggest change.

Continue reading Singing in Aural Tests: the Bottom Line

A Common Approach 2022

Supporting Teachers • Promoting Learning
Written by ANDREW EALES


Originally published in 2002, A Common Approach is perhaps the ultimate instrumental music teaching manual, offering a complete curriculum and extensive lesson activities for most instruments, including separate schemes of work for piano and electronic keyboard.

Now it has just been fully revamped and made available as an updated, free online resource to support instrumental teachers everywhere. Whether working privately or in a school, all piano and keyboard teachers would do well to have a look at this extensive and superb material.

According to its publishers Music Mark,

“A Common Approach is an online resource to support music educators in their teaching practice and help develop a holistic approach to music education. Relevant to all vocal and instrumental teaching, including individual, small-group, large-group and whole-class lessons, music educators at all stages of their career can use the support and shared learning found in A Common Approach.”

Music Mark Chief Executive Bridget Whyte tells us,

“Twenty years after the original version of A Common Approach was published, Music Mark has worked with a skilled team of music tutors from across the UK to update and enhance this valuable teaching tool. Containing both universal guidance and instrument-specific content, this online resource not only provides a great starting point for trainee and early-career tutors, but also gives those who are more experienced the opportunity to reflect on their practice.”

This has particular interest to me because back in 2002, I was a member of the national steering group who put together the original version of A Common Approach which provides the ongoing foundation of this update.

It’s therefore time both to take a short stroll down memory lane, and to consider how the updated version of this milestone resource can help piano teachers today…

Continue reading A Common Approach 2022

How to Practise Music: The Handbook

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I am thrilled to announce my first publication with Hal Leonard, described by the publishers as:

“The essential, pocket-sized companion for every musician. Accessible and authoritative, How to Practise Music is an ideal guide for anyone learning to play music. Suitable for instrumentalists and vocalists of any genre, this comprehensive handbook will give you a better idea of how to practise music, good reasons for doing so, and the confidence to succeed. “

The book is now available in both UK and US versions (Practice/Practise!):


The book is also available digitally for Amazon Kindle and Apple Books.

The book is also now available from the RNIB Bookstore, which aims to open up the world of reading to those with a print disability, including dyslexia, partial sight, and blindness. Titles are made available via the RNIB Bookshare website in a range of accessible formats that can be read electronically or adapted to suit the personal needs of readers.

In this post I will give you an exclusive first look…

Continue reading How to Practise Music: The Handbook

Teaching Adults to Play the Piano

Supporting Teachers • Promoting Learning
Written by ANDREW EALES


There has been an interesting and persistent debate in recent months about whether adult students can effectively teach themselves to play the piano (tapping into the growing plethora or apps, books, etc), or whether there is an essential ongoing need for a teacher’s involvement. I have addressed this in my recent article Who Needs Piano Lessons Anyway?

But while there’s no shortage of arguments for learning with a “good teacher”, many seem to struggle finding one who is sympathetic to their goals and in tune with the needs of adult learners.

In this post I will therefore share some of the strategies which have worked for me over the last three decades of teaching these enthusiastic learners.

Continue reading Teaching Adults to Play the Piano