Season’s Greetings

This is a personal announcement and message to all Pianodao readers, friends and students.

As some will know, I have recently been having problems with my eyesight, and this week I was diagnosed with a retinal detachment, for which I am having surgery this afternoon.

At present I have lost much of my sight in my left eye. The procedure I am having is called a vitrectomy, which I am told is a complicated but routine operation under local anaesthetic, and involves removing vitreous gel from the eye and replacing it with a gas bubble that holds the retina in place while it heals.

The full recovery period is usually between 6-12 weeks, by which time my usual sight should hopefully have been fully restored.

During the first 2-3 weeks of recovery however, I will need to spend much of the time lying down and may be unable to see at all with my left eye.

I’m sharing this news because it means I will probably be unable to add new content to Pianodao until early in the New Year. Submissions to the Video Feedback Service will also need to await my return.

Happily, there are more than 100 articles waiting in my drafts folder, ready to be completed and published on Pianodao as an ongoing gift to readers over the coming months. I am also looking forward to announcing further publications that I am working on.

I hope that in my brief absence you will find time to enjoy the existing content on this site, which now includes hundreds of articles about Playing, Teaching, Living, and of course the huge archive of reviews in the Pianodao Music Library.

The present year has been a challenging one for most of us, and the coming months promise to remain difficult for many. My thoughts are with you at this time, as I know yours will be with me. In Daoist cosmology, the present Year of the Tiger will soon give way to the Year of the Rabbit, and I can’t wait!

In the meantime, I want to thank you all for your support, and especially those who have shared Pianodao articles with your friends, and who have made donations to support the Pianodao site.

Thank you so much, and I will “see” you again soon!

Wishing you all the Very Best of the Season, and a Peaceful New Year.


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How to Practise Music: The Reviews

A highlight of 2022 has been the release and positive reception of my first book for Hal Leonard.

Published worldwide, How to Practise Music is a practical handbook for musicians of all stripes, 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 Bookshare, 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.

Over the course of the last few months I have been truly thrilled and touched by the many wonderful comments I have received, and glowing reviews that have appeared in the press and online.

Here is an updated selection…

Continue reading How to Practise Music: The Reviews

Faber Music Ballads Piano Anthology

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The latest bumper publication to join the popular Faber Music Piano Anthology series focusses on pop ballads in solo piano arrangements suitable for advanced players.

As ever, the 176-page collection arrives wrapped in a classy, high quality thick matt card cover, with a sturdy but (in mine and my students experience) flexible spine that can both stand the test of time and lie flat on the music stand with minimal persuasion.

A lot of adults bring these books to my studio and consistently love them. Whether purchased as a gift book for a pianist friend or for your own study and enjoyment, any of the Faber Music Piano Anthologies is a top choice. With titles to suit all. including Soundtracks, Jazz, Contemporary and Christmas, you can explore the series here.

So let’s consider the latest addition…

Continue reading Faber Music Ballads Piano Anthology

My First Schubert: Easiest Pieces

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Schott Music’s My First Composers collections continue to prove one of the most quirkily enjoyable series of recent years.

With their combination of covers that resemble childrens’ storybooks and content that includes music up to Grade 8 and beyond, they equally suit child prodigies and older players with a self-deprecating sense of fun.

I have previously been very impressed with My First Beethoven (reviewed here), Haydn (here), Schumann (here) and Tchaikovsky (here). Each of these publications delivers a generous mixture of classics and lesser-known pieces, beautifully presented within (and on cream paper) and freshly edited by Wilhelm Ohmen.

The latest addition to the series is devoted to the music of Franz Schubert, delivering 37 solo pieces and 10 duets, and seems to me another immediate winner…

Continue reading My First Schubert: Easiest Pieces

Fauré • Pavane Op.50

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The Pavane Op.50 by Gabriel Fauré (1845-1924) is blessed with one of the most delectable and beloved melodies ever composed, and was from the start one of its composer’s most popular works, exuding the spirit of Paris’s fêtes galantes at the turn of the century.

The piece was originally composed for orchestra in 1887, described by Fauré at the time as “carefully crafted but not otherwise important”. Before the end of the year, there followed a version for chorus and orchestra. Some three decades later, the iconic impresario Serge Diaghilev had it choreographed for his Ballets Russes, a sign of its continuing great popularity.

Many transcriptions of the Pavane have existed, including the solo piano version published in 1889 (the composer’s duet version was also advertised, but if it ever appeared it has sadly been lost).

Many simplified versions have and continue to appear, but for those wanting to explore the original version (most likely prepared by Fauré himself, who performed it several times and even recorded it for player piano), Bärenreiter have just issued a superb urtext edition, BA 11832, the subject of this short review…

Continue reading Fauré • Pavane Op.50

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

The Piano Player: Wintertide Collection

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In a busy year for music publishers, Faber Music’s new series The Piano Player has quickly established itself as a distinctive and enjoyable new imprint.

Introducing the first title in the series, a stirring collection of British Classics released in time for Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee, I wrote,

“Aimed at intermediate players of all ages (and I suspect with a particular eye on the adult market), these look set to be a lovely collection of repertoire books.”

A second title, Classical Favourites, quickly followed (reviewed here), and hot on its heels we now have a third. Ready for the run up to Christmas, Wintertide Collection offers “A seasonal selection of 20 wintry pieces”

Continue reading The Piano Player: Wintertide Collection

Christmas Around the World

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Earlier this year I introduced Hal Leonard’s Jennifer Linn Series in my review of the excellent Easy Elementary collection Rendezvous At The Zoo.

Just in time for this year’s festivities, Christmas Around the World is a new addition to the series, this time suitable for Intermediate+ players, defined as:

“…advancing pianists who have progressed to the Piano Solo level and enjoy lush accompaniments and stylistic original compositions and arrangements.”

Whether adopted within the world of the Jennifer Linn Series or beyond it, this publication offers a very interesting and worthwhile addition to the seasonal music shelf of any player or teacher, so let’s investigate further…

Continue reading Christmas Around the World

The Christmas Shortlist

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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