“Eastern Preludes Collection” – Christopher Norton

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Christopher Norton is very deservedly one of the most famous and beloved educational composers alive today. Perhaps best known for his ground-breaking and million-selling ‘Microjazz’ series, which is one of the most widely used educational series ever, he has added many other outstanding collections to his list of publications.

His piano “Preludes” series is a particular favourite, with previous collections including ‘Jazz Preludes’, ‘Rock Preludes’, ‘Latin Preludes’ and ‘Country Preludes’.

To these, Christopher recently added ‘Eastern Preludes Collection’, the subject of this review…

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Recovery from Injury: Alicja Fiderkiewicz

Following on from the recent interview with Evelina de Lain in which she talked about her recovery from a serious piano playing injury, I am delighted to talk to Alicja Fiderkiewicz, an internationally renowned  classical concert pianist who has experienced her own trauma with injury.

To provide more background before exploring Alicja’s recovery from injury, I wanted to find out more about her piano journey, starting with her lessons as a child growing up in Poland and Soviet Russia…

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Let’s talk about our practice expectations

Supporting teachers • Promoting learning
Written by Andrew Eales


Lack of practice is an issue that most piano players grapple with at some point – and it is something that teachers don’t always handle graciously and with understanding…

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21 Amazingly Easy Pieces

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21 Amazingly Easy Pieces is an original collection of new pieces by Barbara Arens, published by Breitkopf & Härtel in 2014, which has recently come to my attention, and I am seriously impressed with it.

Composer Barbara Arens is a passionately dedicated piano teacher. She began her studies at the Mozarteum in Salzburg at the age of 13. After a concert career performing primarily as harpsichordist and organist, she now puts her diverse abilities and experiences into composing for her piano
pupils. She presently lives near Würzburg, Germany, after living in Beirut, Dallas, San Francisco, Singapore, Salzburg, London and Munich.

Knowing that Barbara has such extensive experience – of performing, of teaching, and of the world – gave me high hopes for these books, and I was not disappointed.

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András Schiff & Natural Breathing

Breathing and stretching exercises for healthy practice and living
Compiled for Pianodao by Andrew Eales.


András Schiff, surely one of the most respected concert pianists of our time, made the following extraordinary observation in a recent interview with Pianist Magazine (No.76, Feb-March 2014):

“For me, it is breathing that is vital. You must breathe naturally, like a singer. Pianists and string players often tend to forget the necessity of breathing and they can become very tense; then they get back pains and wrist pains and so on. Usually it can be sorted out through the breathing.”

Breathing is a subject that I have rarely seen discussed in connection with piano technique, and even less so in the context of pianists’ injuries, their causes, cures and corrections. Schiff is hitting on a point that it would seem is indeed too often overlooked.

In this article I will consider the links between natural breathing and Qigong practice, as well as offering a simple breathing exercise that anyone can try…

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Is Mindfulness relevant to piano playing?

Guest Post by Doug Hanvey


Doug Hanvey is a highly qualified and experienced educationalist and teacher of both piano pedagogy and mindfulness. Here he discusses the link between the two…

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The Art of Piano Pedagogy

Supporting teachers • Promoting learning
Written by Andrew Eales


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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Overcoming Injury – A Personal Story

Readers share with us their own piano journey.
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In this powerful guest post, professional pianist Evelina de Lain writes of her background growing up in the former USSR, the serious injury that stopped her piano playing career in its tracks, her discovery of jazz, and how she finally overcame her injury to become a successful professional pianist with a growing international career… 

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Paying attention to the small things

Take a little time to pause before playing on…
Written by Andrew Eales.


“You may be capable of great things,
But life consists of small things.”

Deng Ming Dao is a popular contemporary writer whose meditation books have a Daoist emphasis – I’ve quoted from him before, and no doubt will again as he is a source of tremendous wisdom.

I highly recommend all his books, and the best-selling ‘365 Tao’ is a great place to start, offering a thought a day throughout the year.

Today’s thought is, I think, of particular relevance to musicians. Here’s an extract, which I hope you will enjoy reflecting on:

“Big things seldom come along.
One should know the small as well as the big.

We may all yearn to make lasting achievements and to be heroes, but life seldom affords us the opportunities to do so. Most of our days consist of small things – the uneventful meditations, the ordinary cooking of meals, the banal trips to work, the quiet scratching in the garden – and it is from these small things that the larger events of our lives are composed.

The master musician’s best composition is but one work in a sea of musical tones. If we want to be successful, it is the small things that we should pay attention to.

We must not fall in the trap of waiting so long for the big things that we let numerous small chances slip right by us. People who do this are forever waiting for life to be perfect. They complain that fate is against them, that the world does not recognise their greatness. If they would lower their sights, they would see all the beautiful opportunities waiting at their feet. If they would humble themselves enough to bend down, they could scoop untold treasures up into their hands.”


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Jorge Bolet on competitions

Take a little time to pause before playing on…
Written by Andrew Eales.


The journalist Jeremy Nicholas interviewed legendary pianist Jorge Bolet back in 1977, and among other things asked him why “The Romantic Pianist” seemed already by then to have vanished…

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