The Piano Player: British Classics

The PIANODAO MUSIC LIBRARY
Selected & Reviewed by ANDREW EALES


Faber Music have a well-earned reputation for producing outstanding series of music books. From their lush Faber Piano Anthology series to Paul Harris’s Improve Your Sight Reading and Pam Wedgwood’s Jazzin’ Around, their best series have become landmark publications.

With their latest publication, British Classics, Faber are launching a new series, with seven titles projected, simply called The Piano Player. So let’s take a look at the series debut…

Continue reading The Piano Player: British Classics

The Rusty Pianist: Playable Pieces

The PIANODAO MUSIC LIBRARY
Selected & Reviewed by ANDREW EALES


Reviewing Pam Wedgwood’s The Rusty Pianist when it appeared around this time last year, I concluded:

“Some of the publications which come my way are absolutely perfect for their intended niche, while others go far beyond their remit to become enduring classics with huge appeal. I am happy to say that this is one of those publications, and it belongs not only on the shelves of the rusty, but of piano lovers everywhere.”

• READ THE FULL REVIEW HERE

Wedgwood’s latest publication, the cannily titled Rusty Pianist: Playable Pieces is a companion to that brilliant volume, and continues the ruse of appealing to the modesty of returning adult players.

The book delivers an enticing collection of 16 “easy-to-learn piano solos for the returning player”, pieces which can be enjoyed in their own right by piano returners at intermediate level, without any deadline or need to prove their progress in an exam room. Let’s once again lift the lid…

Continue reading The Rusty Pianist: Playable Pieces

“HerStory”: The Piano Collection

The PIANODAO MUSIC LIBRARY
Selected & Reviewed by ANDREW EALES


Best-selling author Karen Marshall has been a driving force behind some of the most popular and useful piano education titles of recent years, including the Piano Star and Encore series (both ABRSM), Get Set! Piano method books (Collins Music) and Piano Trainer series (Faber Music).

To get the measure of this achievement, you can browse and read all of my previous reviews of Marshall’s work by clicking on this tag.

Marshall’s latest project is HerStory from Faber Music, and will appeal to a wider catchment of piano players beyond the education market, being a compilation of 30 works by female composers who thus far have not received the recognition they have deserved. But HerStory is so much more than simply another repertoire collection, as I will explain in this review.

Continue reading “HerStory”: The Piano Collection

Launching “HerStory”

Pianodao Tea Room members were this week treated to a very special online event, at which best-selling author Karen Marshall unveiled her new collection, HerStory.

Below, we are now pleased to share the full video of the presentation, with special thanks to Rachel Topham at Faber Music and Emily Alexander at Yorkshire Young Musicians for their generous support.

Continue reading Launching “HerStory”

Paul Harris: Unconditional Teaching

THE PIANODAO BOOKSHELF
Books For Musicians, Educators & Enthusiasts

All products featured on Pianodao are independently selected by Andrew Eales.
However, when you buy something through the site’s retail links, Pianodao may earn a small commission, without affecting the price you pay.


Many readers will already have benefitted from Paul Harris’s numerous and superb teaching and learning resources, and perhaps also read one or more of his best-sellers written to support teachers. His seminal The Virtuoso Teacher, Improve Your Teaching! and Simultaneous Learning books have established themselves as essential modern classics.

New from Faber Music, and presented in a similar format to those previous books, Harris’s latest publication is called Unconditional Teaching. And it is undoubtedly one of his most provocative and thought-provoking yet…

Continue reading Paul Harris: Unconditional Teaching

Pianodao Music Library: Top Highlights of 2021

The PIANODAO MUSIC LIBRARY
Selected & Reviewed by ANDREW EALES


By my tally, I have reviewed 152 sheet music and educational publications on Pianodao in 2021, including all those appearing individually or in sets. No wonder it’s time to sort out my music cupboard again!

But which were my absolute favourites? And which will I continue using in 2022 and beyond?

Here, without further ado, are my top three choices from each category within the ever-growing Pianodao Music Library.

To read my in-depth evaluations of each publication selected, simply click on the titles to open the full reviews.

Continue reading Pianodao Music Library: Top Highlights of 2021

Carl Davis: The Piano Collection

The PIANODAO MUSIC LIBRARY
Selected & Reviewed by ANDREW EALES


One of the most distinguished composers alive today, Carl Davis (b.1936) has scored almost 400 TV shows and films, winning several BAFTAs and Ivor Novello Awards. Davis has established himself as the number one choice to score silent films, and famously collaborated with Sir Paul McCartney in the creation of the Liverpool Oratorio.

In celebration of Davis’s 85th birthday on 28th October, his publishers Faber Music have brought out a beautifully presented, limited edition folio of his most cherished works, selected and reworked for solo piano by the composer himself.

Let’s have a look at The Piano Collection

Continue reading Carl Davis: The Piano Collection

The Christmas 2021 Shortlist: Advanced Piano Music

The PIANODAO MUSIC LIBRARY
Selected & Reviewed by ANDREW EALES


The Christmas season is accompanied by a uniquely popular and significant body of music spanning multiple genres, and it’s no wonder that there are so many varied piano collections to choose from, whatever your level.

Once again this year, here is the updated and expanded Pianodao shortlist of the best seasonal piano sheet music, including a couple of new releases alongside several established hits.

The 2021 Pianodao shortlist concludes with collections suitable for more ADVANCED players (UK Grade 6 and above).

You can find the Pianodao 2021 Christmas Shortlists for other levels here:


And as ever, remember that Pianodao Tea Room members will receive a 20% discount from Musicroom for any of the publications included below…

Continue reading The Christmas 2021 Shortlist: Advanced Piano Music

The Christmas 2021 Shortlist: Intermediate Piano Music

The PIANODAO MUSIC LIBRARY
Selected & Reviewed by ANDREW EALES


The Christmas season is accompanied by a uniquely popular and significant body of music spanning multiple genres, and it’s no wonder that there are so many varied piano collections to choose from, whatever your level.

Once again this year, here is the updated and expanded Pianodao shortlist of the best seasonal piano sheet music, including a mix of new releases and classic favourites!

The 2021 Pianodao shortlist continues with music collections aimed at INTERMEDIATE players (around UK Grade 3-5)…

You will find the Pianodao 2021 Christmas Shortlists for other levels here:


And as ever, remember that Pianodao Tea Room members will receive a 20% discount from Musicroom for any of the publications included below.

Continue reading The Christmas 2021 Shortlist: Intermediate Piano Music

Musicians Who Teach

THE PIANODAO BOOKSHELF
Books For Musicians, Educators & Enthusiasts

All products featured on Pianodao are independently selected by Andrew Eales.
However, when you buy something through the site’s retail links, Pianodao may earn a small commission, without affecting the price you pay.


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”….

Continue reading Musicians Who Teach

The Rusty Pianist

The PIANODAO MUSIC LIBRARY
Selected & Reviewed by ANDREW EALES


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 …

Continue reading The Rusty Pianist

People Get Ready!

The PIANODAO MUSIC LIBRARY
Selected & Reviewed by ANDREW EALES


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.

Continue reading People Get Ready!

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 covered Catherine McMillan’s gorgeously presented Piano Scales Mnemonics (reviewed here) and Karen Marshall superb Piano Trainer Scales Workbook (reviewed here).

Joining these excellent resources, Paul Harris has now completely rewritten his popular Improve Your Scales! series, and like McMillan and Marshall has eschewed the ill-conceived 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…

Continue reading Improve Your Scales!

The Faber Music Contemporary Piano Anthology

The PIANODAO MUSIC LIBRARY
Selected & Reviewed by ANDREW EALES


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’

The PIANODAO MUSIC LIBRARY
Selected & Reviewed by ANDREW EALES


“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…

Continue reading Sonny Chua’s ‘Cool Keys’

Play Piano for Well-being

The PIANODAO MUSIC LIBRARY
Selected & Reviewed by ANDREW EALES


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…

Continue reading Play Piano for Well-being

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.

My main review of the series is here.

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

The PIANODAO MUSIC LIBRARY
Selected & Reviewed by ANDREW EALES


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…

Continue reading Faber’s Easy Piano Anthology

The Faber Music Jazz Anthology

The PIANODAO MUSIC LIBRARY
Selected & Reviewed by ANDREW EALES


Over the last three years, Faber Music seemed to establish a pattern of releasing deluxe Piano Anthologies in the run up to the Christmas season. For 2020, they have ‘upped the ante’ by bringing forward the next title in this stunning series to the Spring, with further anthologies (Contemporary and Easy) already in preparation.

The Faber Music Jazz Piano Anthology builds on the quality of its predecessors to deliver a sumptuous and brilliantly conceived book of jazz standards, newly arranged as piano solos for more advanced students and adult piano enthusiasts everywhere.

Definitely time for a closer look…

Continue reading The Faber Music Jazz Anthology

Pam Wedgwood: Piano Meditations

The PIANODAO MUSIC LIBRARY
Selected & Reviewed by ANDREW EALES


Following on from her previous collections of original pieces inspired by works of art Piano Gallery (reviewed here) and Piano Seascapes (reviewed here), Piano Meditations is the latest from best-selling composer Pam Wedgwood, brought to us as ever by publishers Faber Music.

Here we have 12 brand new compositions which are, according to their composer, “inspired by contemplative works of art, and once again the publication includes a gorgeous full colour pull-out poster featuring images of all the paintings which served as Pam’s muse.

Intermediate players who enjoyed the previous collections, along with Wedgwood’s many fans, will undoubtedly already be rushing to their music supplier for a copy; for the benefit of those wanting more information, let’s take a quick look…

Continue reading Pam Wedgwood: Piano Meditations

Which Adult Piano Method?

EDUCATIONAL RESOURCES • review by ANDREW EALES
Supporting Your Teaching • PATHWAYS FOR TEACHING


In my article Teaching Adults to Play the Piano I explained how adults learn differently to children. It follows that we need a range of resources more suited to adult needs.

In this post, I will now present my shortlist of the best adult method books, updated for 2022, and with full reviews of my Ten Top Choices

Continue reading Which Adult Piano Method?

Paul Harris: A Piece A Week

EDUCATIONAL RESOURCES • review by ANDREW EALES
Supporting Your Teaching • PATHWAYS FOR TEACHING


Paul Harris’s series of A Piece a Week books have been appearing at regular intervals over the last few years. Faber Music have just released the Grade 6 book, so let’s consider the series as a whole…

I’ll start with a quick reminder that while the books appear in the best-selling Improve Your Sight Reading series, they are not sight reading practice books per se. Rather they aim to support the broader development of music literacy.

In this review I will first explain the concept behind A Piece a Week, give an overview of the actual material included in the books, and explain how they develop to offer superb material across the range of playing levels from UK Grade 1 to the new Grade 6 book.

Continue reading Paul Harris: A Piece A Week

Paul Harris: Cancer and Positivity

THE PIANODAO BOOKSHELF
Books For Musicians, Educators & Enthusiasts

All products featured on Pianodao are independently selected by Andrew Eales.
However, when you buy something through the site’s retail links, Pianodao may earn a small commission, without affecting the price you pay.


One Saturday morning in March 2018, I learnt that my good friend the composer, author and educator Paul Harris had been rushed to our local hospital emergency department overnight.

Paul had for several months been battling non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a virulent cancer that had already seemed to take so much from him.

He was receiving excellent treatment at The Churchill Hospital in Oxford, but having taken a turn for the worse the previous night, Paul had been instructed to come straight to Milton Keynes, his nearest A&E.

Continue reading Paul Harris: Cancer and Positivity

The Easy Piano Series: Christmas

The PIANODAO MUSIC LIBRARY
Selected & Reviewed by ANDREW EALES


Faber Music’s ‘Easy Piano Series’ has steadily been establishing itself as one of the brightest jewels in the publisher’s sparkling catalogue of educational piano music. New for 2019, this collection of seasonal favourites sets out to maintain the high standards of the series…

Let’s take a quick peek inside…

Continue reading The Easy Piano Series: Christmas