A Theoretical Diversion…

My recent in-depth post concerning the current ABRSM Grade 5 Music Theory requirement has attracted considerable interest and debate online, not unexpectedly. A second in-depth post will follow later in the month, in which I hope to answer the questions raised in the first. Until then, a small diversion…

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Lucinda Mackworth-Young: “Piano by Ear”

Lucinda Mackworth-Young’s new book “Piano by Ear” fills a massive gap in the market. Here’s my review :

Quite simply this is the book that I, and no doubt many other thousands of pianists and teachers, have been waiting for. For years!

I even considered writing something like it myself at one point, back at the time my own Keyquest books for electronic keyboard were just out. But thank goodness – Lucinda Mackworth-Young has saved us all the effort, and has certainly done a far better job of it than I would ever have done!

Continue reading Lucinda Mackworth-Young: “Piano by Ear”

Grade 5 Theory: Reconsidered

In this first of two articles about Music Theory, I will be considering the important issue of whether music theory should be a compulsory element of a well-rounded music education. A second article follows, examining in more detail how we might re-imagine a Music Theory curriculum and syllabus for the 21st century.

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“Leave your thoughts in a place you will not visit”

It is clear that controlling our thoughts is a huge issue for us pianists. Indeed, most of the piano players I have met are easy to describe as “conceptual thinkers”. Indeed, I would say that conceptual thinking is probably an essential skill for any high level player.

But there’s a huge problem. In recent years, we have become increasingly aware that “over-thinking” any problem can break rather than solve it, and often leads us to bizarre conclusions.

At the same time, we have been convinced by the growing body of research confirming our suspicions that many physical health problems are rooted in the activities of the mind. “Over-thinking” can ultimately be associated with anxiety, fear, paranoia and mental instability, all of which can have serious physical as well as social consequences.

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Recovery from Abuse: Interview with Fiona Whelpton

The relationship between music teachers and their students is a particularly important one. At best it can nurture young people’s development both as a person and bring out the best of their talents as a musician. But what happens when boundaries are crossed and rules get broken?

Continue reading Recovery from Abuse: Interview with Fiona Whelpton

Feeling Impatient?

One thing is certain – everything changes. But sometimes things can take longer than we hoped for, in stark contrast to the general pace of our lives today. Is it any wonder that we often feel impatient?

Perhaps there are obstacles that won’t shift from your pathway. Wounds that won’t heal…

… or simply a favourite piece of music that you would love to be able to play on the piano, but which somehow seems far out of your reach.

As qigong master Kam Chuen Lam explains, some things simply take time – and are all the better for it!

“All authentic growth takes time. So does healing and the process of deep strengthening. It is like giving birth.

In the more than thirty years that I have been teaching and treating people in the West, I have always had to tell people that nature takes time to form, nourish and give birth to new life.

I tell my students, ‘You can’t make a plant grow by tugging on it every day. You simply put it in good soil, give it just enough water and light, and let it grow. If you do that it will grow naturally. That is its nature’.”

Master Kam Chuen Lam
The Qigong Workbook for Anxiety