In traditional Daoist lore, the turning of the Chinese New Year can bring about transformations to prevailing energies, both subtle and more sweeping.
In previous years I have written about the Year of the Fire Monkey and the Year of the Fire Rooster – now, as we commence the Year of the Earth Dog, let’s briefly consider – albeit with a light touch – what this might mean for the coming months …
Continue reading 2018: Year of the Earth Dog
Sheet Music Review
ABRSM’s three Piano Star books (published Autumn 2016) have been a huge and well-deserved success, appealing to children and their teachers alike.
So I was thrilled to hear that there would be two more additions to the series (which have just been published) – Piano Star: Five-Finger Tunes, and Piano Star Grade 1.
According to ABRSM:
The new books, Piano Star: Five-Finger Tunes and Piano Star: Grade 1, are packed with a wealth of useful teaching material which children will love to play.
The Piano Star series is part of ABRSM’s commitment to producing a wider range of early years resources and aims to inspire young pianists and help them to develop their musical skills. The five Piano Star books are designed to take young pianists from the end of their first tutor book to Grade 1 standard.
The series now offers over 120 new compositions and arrangements from leading educational composers and are brought to life with imaginative titles, eye-catching full colour illustrations and fun activities.
Let’s take a look at each of the two books, and see what they add to this popular series.
Continue reading ABRSM “Piano Star”: The Review
The Pianist’s Reflections Series
As I write this I am in India on a two-week yoga retreat, in which each day has started with a reflective discourse on the ethics outlined in the Yoga sutras of Patanjali, the classic text from which yoga theory subsequently developed.
The first, foundational ethic presented by Patanjali was ahimsa, which can be literally translated no harm, and intrinsically means be kind. Without kindness, there can be no true yoga. And yet, as our teacher rather decisively noted:
“There are plenty of people in this world who can touch their toes – but who are still basically arseholes!”
As usual, what is true in one field can equally apply in another, and certainly from my own observations of pianists – both in online forums and the ‘real world’ – there are plenty of very fine piano players and teachers who, it would seem, somewhat lack kindness.
So how can we encourage the piano community to be a kinder one? As always, the answer must begin with ourselves …
Continue reading The Pianist’s Kindness
Here in the UK, Spring has not yet sprung, and may be a few weeks away still, but I’ve been busy looking back at the 300+ articles published here over the last two years, with a view to tidying up a bit!
You may have noticed that the menus have recently been updated, bringing the site closer to its core focus of the pianist’s journey as a player, teacher, and in life.
However, this year’s Spring Clean goes beyond reorganising the site content, and I’ve taken time to remove quite a number of articles which I don’t believe comfortably fit the goals and values of Pianodao moving forward. The process is also still ongoing, so a few more posts may be sent to the basement yet…
Here, then, is a brief run down of what has gone, and why…
Continue reading Pianodao Spring Clean!
Esteemed publishers Bärenreiter continue to produce some of the world’s finest editions of core classical piano repertoire (and of course, so much more!) and I have been delighted to see some of their latest releases.
In this review I will look at their new scores of masterworks by Bach, Haydn and Beethoven, which are suitable for post-grade 8 amateur players, diploma students, and professional pianists.
In a separate review I will also be looking at a couple of most interesting recent educational releases, so as always, stay tuned!
Continue reading Masterworks from Bärenreiter
Sheet Music Review
Bartók’s seminal collection For Children is, in my view, one of the few absolute essential classics of the piano pedagogy repertoire – a work which has in equal measure both charmed and challenged generations of young pianists, and seems as popular with my students today as ever.
Two new versions of this milestone have appeared in recent months: a single-volume complete edition from Boosey & Hawkes, and a brand new urtext edition from Henle Verlag in partnership with Editio Musica Budapest.
In this review I’m going to present each, with some concluding thoughts on their relative merits, and recommendations of which edition will suit whom.
Continue reading Bartók: For Children
Sheet Music Review
This new format “Show & Tell” review includes both a video, in which I will show you the latest publications from Henle, and a scripted review below, with links to more information on the publisher’s website.
Continue reading Show & Tell: G. Henle Verlag
The Pianist’s Reflections Series
January is, for many, a time of resolutions, grit and determination. Whether it’s a fresh commitment to healthy eating and exercise, or a renewal of discipline, setting aside time to practise the piano – this is a month where many make a decision to turn a new leaf.
I hope that as many as possible who make a commitment towards self-improvement in its many forms will succeed in their freshly stated aims. But what are the ingredients of perseverance which will foster that success? Here’s my theme for this month’s reflection!
And I will try to explain why I believe that Progress is a Process, and that perseverance is never simply a matter of grim resolve and self-discipline …
Continue reading The Pianist’s Perseverance
Guest Post by Karen Marshall
Pushy Parent Syndrome
Is this something you are experiencing in your studio?
I recently attended a teacher meeting where a teacher was relaying her recent experiences with a very difficult parent of a young 6-year-old student. As I pondered the topic I realised that ‘pushy parent syndrome’, luckily, has not been something that I’ve recently encountered as regularly as in my young teaching years.
I felt it may be helpful to share some practices I’ve developed which have certainly made my teaching life far easier.
My approach is partly a conflict resolution one. I would add its a “work in progress” – I would never claim to have all the answers and I’m still learning constantly after over 25 years of piano teaching!
I say conflict resolution because a relationship between a teacher and parent has potential for conflict, simply because the parent purchases the lessons and the child receives them. The relationship is a triangle – if anyone has ever had a dotted line with two managers you will know first-hand the problems that can cause.
- The parent’s needs may be different to the child’s – conflict.
- The parent’s expectations may be different to the abilities of the child – conflict.
Before you know it, you are jam-sandwiched between the child and the parent. So, what are the practical things I try to employ to make things easier and – most importantly – best for the student whilst maintaining good professional practices?
Continue reading Working Positively with Parents
Are you ready for a fresh challenge?
Throughout 2017, the Active Repertoire Project has helped piano players from around the world build confidence and find more enjoyment playing the piano.
In 2018, I invite you to join this exciting project –
and let’s take it to the Next Level!
Download ACTIVE REPERTOIRE 2018 sheets here.
Continue reading Active Repertoire Challenge 2018