Musicians Who Teach

THE PIANODAO BOOKSHELF
Books for piano players, teachers, students and enthusiasts


Faber Music’s latest publication is a slim book called The Essential Handbook for Musicians Who Teach.

Written by singing teacher, researcher and lecturer Dr. Kerry Boyle and Diane Widdison, formerly National Organiser for Education and Training at the MU, the book is aimed at any musician teaching in the UK, whatever the context, and offers a wealth of generic advice covering the many practical aspects of earning money from instrumental/singing teaching.

I’ll look at the content in detail, and let’s find out whether this new handbook is indeed “essential”….

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The Rusty Pianist

SHEET MUSIC REVIEW • by ANDREW EALES
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Pam Wedgwood has an uncanny knack for spotting a niche; time and again, with publications such as the best-selling Jazzin’ About, After Hours, It’s Never Too Late and Up-Grade series, Wedgwood has delivered neatly-positioned and engagingly crafted material that has exactly met the need of the hour.

And with The Rusty Pianist she’s undoubtedly done it again.

Appearing after a year in which many former players who previously gave up playing have returned to their hobby with renewed enthusiasm, this handsomely presented 40-page book offers an opportunity for them to, as the publishers put it,

“Rediscover the piano with this exciting collection of easy-to-learn piano solos.”

So let’s investigate further …

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People Get Ready!

SHEET MUSIC REVIEW • by ANDREW EALES
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People Get Ready is a new collection of 13 solo piano arrangements of popular songs by Black musicians, suitable for late intermediate to early advanced players.

Brought to us by Faber Music, the publication presents itself as a “celebration of black songwriters”, offering a selection of iconic works that certainly fulfil that aim, while also tapping into the zeitgeist of the present moment.

People Get Ready is in my view an important and excellent publication, so in this review I will consider each of the 13 songs, include YouTube clips of the originals, as well as adding insights about these new piano arrangements, which have been produced by Faber regular Oliver Weeks.

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Improve Your Scales!

EDUCATIONAL RESOURCES • review by ANDREW EALES
Supporting your teaching • PATHWAYS FOR TEACHING


Since the ABRSM exam board significantly reduced their piano scales requirements last year (read a full analysis here), many have agreed that their requirements alone no longer provide the solid framework players need for the development of technique, an awareness of keys and assimilation of archetype fingering patterns.

Of the respected educators who have subsequently sought to fill the void with superior learning resources, I have already reviewed Catherine McMillan’s gorgeously presented Piano Scales Mnemonics (read the review here) and Karen Marshall superb Piano Trainer Scales Workbook (and that review is here), both of which are knockout publications.

Joining these excellent resources, Paul Harris has now completely rewritten his popular Improve Your Scales! series, and like McMillan and Marshall has eschewed the limitations of ABRSM to embrace a more comprehensive and educative approach.

As Harris announces a the start of each of the six books in his new series, which cover the Initial to Grade Five requirements for all major exam boards,

“Scales, arpeggios and broken chords are important. And if taught and learned imaginatively, they can be fun!”

This is another of those moments where a disclaimer is required; Paul invited my feedback on his ideas while developing his vision for the new series, and as a good friend welcomed my help with the proof reading.

The genius in these books is all his though, so let’s see how he’s done things differently from others, and establish why these books stand out as another teaching studio essential…

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The Faber Music Contemporary Piano Anthology

SHEET MUSIC REVIEW • by ANDREW EALES
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Faber Music’s growing series of Piano Anthology books are a continuing source of joy, and have been enthusiastically received by several of my regular adult students.

I have reviewed the previous collections here:

Spoilers: in all cases I have been impressed both with the intelligence and value of the music selections and the quality of the publications themselves.

So it great to be welcoming a new addition to the family with the delivery of The Faber Music Contemporary Piano Anthology, which offers 52 “beautiful neoclassical pieces for solo piano”.

Let’s find out whether it lives up to the high standards set by the series…

Continue reading The Faber Music Contemporary Piano Anthology

The Piano Trainer Scales Workbook

EDUCATIONAL RESOURCES • review by ANDREW EALES
Supporting your teaching • PATHWAYS FOR TEACHING


A couple of years ago I suggested to author Karen Marshall and publishers Faber Music that it would be really useful to have an all-in-one scales manual within the popular Piano Trainer series. And here it is!

According to Faber Music,

“This all-in-one workbook for scales, arpeggios and broken chords includes all the keys and basic shapes piano students should learn. With clear scale notation, easy-to-visualise keyboard diagrams and excellent theory activities to consolidate understanding and underline the importance of writing music. It is ideal for developing a bespoke scale curriculum.”

The Piano Trainer Scales Workbook is certainly all of this, and the 72-page book is chock-full of neat ideas and judiciously selected material, so let’s take a closer look…

Continue reading The Piano Trainer Scales Workbook

Sonny Chua’s ‘Cool Keys’

SHEET MUSIC REVIEW • by ANDREW EALES
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“Sonny Chua was an Australian composer, educator and pianist, known for his characterful and energetic musical style, who sadly passed away earlier this year. Today, on what would have been his 53rd birthday, we are honoured to announced that we will be publishing his ‘Cool Keys’ books for solo piano later this month.”

With these words Faber Music last month announced the imminent arrival of Cool Keys, two books of pieces suitable for Elementary and Intermediate players respectively, while also drawing attention to the sad circumstances of their publication.

Happily, the books offer a superb testament to the talent and imagination of Chua: one which will undoubtedly be welcomed warmly by those who knew him, while introducing his best educational music to a wider global audience.

So let’s take a closer look at these very special publications, which are now available to purchase…

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Play Piano for Well-being

SHEET MUSIC REVIEW • by ANDREW EALES
For help playing this • BOOK A CONSULTATION
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Faber Music have established a reputation for producing interesting and beautifully presented piano collections in recent years, ranging from their standard-setting Faber Music Anthologies series to less imposing but equally attractive compilations.

Their latest is called Play Piano for Well-being, which offers a typically diverse assortment of popular and easily accessible pieces.

In common with last year’s Peaceful Piano Playlist, this new addition similarly compiles a wide range of music in the manner of a Spotify playlist, the hope being that the “31 uplifting piano solos” contained within will bring delight to players and listeners alike.

Let’s hit the play button…

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A Piece a Week: “Initial Grade”

EDUCATIONAL RESOURCES • review by ANDREW EALES
Supporting your teaching • PATHWAYS FOR TEACHING


Regular readers will know that I am quite a fan of Paul Harris’s Piece a Week series from Faber Music, having found that using these books within my own teaching practice has helped many of my students significantly improve in their music literacy and ability to learn independently using notation.

Harris has just added a new book to the series, A Piece A Week: Initial Grade, which merits a separate review to the rest of the series for a variety of reasons which I will come to presently.

My first reaction to hearing about this book was admittedly mixed, on the one hand delighted that this wonderful resource has been extended to accommodate the needs of early elementary players, but the other hand stifling a weary sigh that in a year which has seen exam boards straining to dominate the music education agenda, yet more grade material has appeared for review.

But, extraordinary fellow that he is, Harris has an unnerving and seemingly inexhaustible knack for pleasantly surprising me, indeed, hugely exceeding my expectations.

And I’m happy to report that he’s done it again…

Continue reading A Piece a Week: “Initial Grade”

Faber’s Easy Piano Anthology

SHEET MUSIC REVIEW • by ANDREW EALES
For help playing this • BOOK A CONSULTATION
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Faber Music’s growing series of high-quality Piano Anthologies have been establishing a reputation for offering generous and well-presented collections compiled for intermediate to advanced players.

I have previously reviewed:

Hot on their heels, Faber bring us their Easy Piano Anthology, a new book in the series that is aimed at less advanced players, including an enticing selection of arrangements suitable for the elementary to early intermediate player (around Grades 1-4).

Let’s take a look at this new collection…

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