Warming to “Hot Keys Piano”

Sarah Watts is an established educational author and composer with a great reputation for writing catchy pieces in popular contemporary styles. Piano teachers will perhaps best know her for her piece ‘Strange things Happen’, selected for ABRSM Grade 2 piano in 2013, and recently reappearing as one of the highlights of ‘Encore Book 1’.

Perhaps not yet so well known are the “Hot Keys Piano” tutor books which Sarah has written in collaboration with pianist, educationalist and examiner Rebecca Holt. Aimed at beginners aged 7 and above, I suspect that these books will particularly appeal to peripatetic piano teachers working in schools, and to their students. We’ll see why as I take a closer look…

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The Art of Piano Pedagogy

The great Russian pedagogue Heinrich Neuhaus (who taught such legendary classical pianists as Radu Lupu, Sviatoslav Richter and Emil Gilels) wrote:

“I consider that one of the main tasks of a teacher is to ensure as quickly and as thoroughly as possible that he is no longer necessary to the pupil; to eliminate himself, to leave the stage in time, in other words to inculcate in the pupil that independent thinking, that method of work, that knowledge of self and ability to reach his goal which we term ‘maturity’, the threshold beyond which begins mastery.”

Heinrich Neuhaus
‘The Art of Piano Playing’,
trans. K.A. Leibovitch, London 1973

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“Flow”

Sunday Sounds: 29th November 2015
Ashot Danielyan: “Flow”

One of my favourite things during my time running the Piano Cloud group was setting up musical challenges for members, aimed at stimulating our musical juices. The challenges led to many of the group members producing their best work, and it’s a joy to me that my successor with the Piano Cloud, Simon Reich, has maintained this excellent tradition.

Ashot Danielyan is one of my favourite artists on SoundCloud – a composer whose ambient music is always imaginative and creative, and whose expression is well attuned to the human spirit. I find it remarkable that he produces new, highly professional music on a weekly basis, and continues to exhibit variety and originality in his work.

“Flow” was composed for the latest Piano Cloud challenge, as Ashot explains:

“I’ve improvised this piece for the “Odd Time Signature Challenge” of The Piano Cloud community in Facebook. The goal of the challenge was to create a piano piece with an odd time signature, for example 5/4 or 7/8 etc. I’ve used a combination of two odd time signatures: 5/8 and 5/16. Also I’ve played a middle relaxing part in a free style (without using a combination of 5/8 and 5/16).”

Follow: Ashot Danielyan on SoundCloud

The Importance of Music

Guest author and professional visual artist Simon Reich gives his personal perspective…

Being a visual artist myself, I have to reluctantly admit that it’s quite possible that the general populace of the world could live without paintings, sculpture and visual art. But I severely doubt the people on this planet could live without music.

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“Christmas Cool Piano Duets”

It’s that time of year when pianists and teachers dust off their trusty Christmas carol / songbooks. There’s plenty to choose from; my personal favourite easy solo collection is ‘Pianoworks Christmas’ from OUP, but there’s plenty of great seasonal music collections out there.

When it comes to good duets however, the choice is more limited, especially if the primo player is a near-beginner. So I would like to warmly recommend this excellent collection from educational composer Heather Hammond, ‘Christmas Cool Piano Duets’.

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ABRSM “Piano Mix”

The latest series of new piano music books from ABRSM promises “great arrangements for easy piano”. Does it deliver?
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