Paul Harris Webinar: A Piece a Week

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Paul Harris’s Piece a Week series has been among the triumphs of recent years. In my own teaching these books have become a staple with students of all ages, and the number one top sight reading resource that I recommend and use. I have reviewed the books for Grade 1-6 here and for Initial Grade here.

Now Faber Music bring us a combined book covering Grades 7 and 8, which completes the series. The book maintains the educational approach and musical engagement of its predecessors, so for more information please be sure to read those previous reviews.

The final book well and truly lives up to the sky-high standards of the rest in the series, and is in my view truly superb.

To give you a taste, Faber Music have generously provided this FREE piece from the book as an exclusive Pianodao download:


And now for Paul Harris in person…

Faber Music kindly organised a special webinar for Pianodao Tea Room members, celebrating the new release and giving him the opportunity to outline the series in person, introduce the final book, play some of the pieces, and answer questions. For those who missed it, I am pleased to share the full webinar recording below.

To catch future events in the Tea Room, why not come and join us?

Here is the recording…


To use the special promotional code announced by Rachel Topham in the webinar, here is the Faber Music online purchase link.

The Piece a Week series is available now from music retailers everywhere.


Also available • Andrew’s essential handbook:
How to Practise Music

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Paul Harris: A Piece A Week

Products featured on Pianodao are selected for review by Andrew Eales.
When you purchase using the site’s retail links, Pianodao may earn a small commission without affecting the price you pay.

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

Hear, Sing, Play, Read, Write?

Supporting teachers, promoting piano education.
Written by Andrew Eales

Over the years I’ve repeatedly encountered the suggestion that music should be taught in much the same way as we have tended to assume language is acquired.

Advocates of this theory point out that:

  • Firstly as babies we hear words;
  • Soon we start to mimic them;
  • In time, we learn to speak fluently;
  • Later (perhaps several years later), we are taught to read;
  • And then to write.

I’m not a linguistics expert, but I suspect that this linear sequence is somewhat over-simplistic. In any case, it is adapted by some to propose this music education equivalent:

Hear  →  Sing  →  Play  →  Read  →  Write

It has long seemed to me that finding any direct or useful equivalent between musical learning and theories of language acquisition is more difficult than some suggest. And like many experienced teachers, I have observed that those taught according to this notion don’t always develop into good music readers.

In this short article I will flirt with the complexities here by asking three important questions:

  1. How do music and language seem to behave differently?
  2. How does informal learning prepare us for formal tuition?
  3. Does learning always follow the same one-way sequence?

As with the initial proposition, direct answers to such questions are elusive; perhaps it is sufficient to simply acknowledge their existence. But let’s take a brief trip to this hinterland together…

Continue reading Hear, Sing, Play, Read, Write?

Piano Star Theory

Products featured on Pianodao are selected for review by Andrew Eales.
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ABRSM’s Piano Star series of books for children have been warmly received since their introduction a couple of years ago, their pieces regularly appearing in student concerts, festivals, the Prep Test and Grade 1 exams.

Last year the original series of three progressive books of fresh new repertoire grew to include a book of “Five Finger Tunes at the entry level, and a “Piano Star Grade 1 book at the upper end. And now there’s another addition: the Piano Star Theory primer is published this week.


Let’s take a look…

Continue reading Piano Star Theory