How to Practise Music: Reviews

THE PIANODAO BOOKSHELF
Books For Musicians, Educators & Enthusiasts


It has been a couple of months since the release of my first book for Hal Leonard in the UK, and it is now available in a US english version, and n digital format from the Amazon Kindle and Apple Books stores.

I have been thrilled and touched by the many wonderful comments I have received and reviews that have appeared. Here is a selection…


“In this helpful little book, the author considers 50 aspects of practice and unpacks them in such a way as to be useful to instrumentalists and vocalists of any genre… Any independent learner or parent committed to their child’s progress would benefit from having this book to dip into, and to make sure they are investing all that practice time as well as possible.”

Helena Ruinard
Music Teacher Magazine April 2022


“This hold-in-the-hand 80-page book is the perfect practice manual for teachers to draw ideas from and for students to develop their own personal practice tool kit to help make the most of the time… This compact book, packed with sage advice and wonderful content, will help any teacher or student reading it to resolve their practice challenges. The result will potentially be a greater love of their instrument and so much more success playing it.”

Karen Marshall
Piano teacher, presenter and best-selling author
Read the full review here.


“Andrew’s book unquestionably considers in equal measure the organisational and creative aspects of practising most persuasively. The presentation and style is lucid and practical. This is not a florid, pictorial production. Rather, it cuts to the chase, fits neatly into your jacket pocket and will be of invaluable use to an enormous number of practicing musicians.”

Murray McLachlan
Pianist, writer, recording artist and educator 
Read the full review here


“This pocket-sized volume is the perfect companion for every musician, packing a punch in less than 100 pages with its wealth of supportive, imaginative, practical and thoughtful suggestions to keep the musician, whatever their age or ability level, focused and motivated… You may wish to read the book from cover to cover, or to simply dip into it; either way, you will find it an invaluable resource. Teachers too will find much useful information in finding creative ways to encourage students to practise.”

Frances Wilson
The Cross-Eyed Pianist website
Read the full review here


“Packed with wisdom gleaned from decades of making and teaching music, Eales’ guide offers practical advice on how to practice in ways that are both productive and joyful. What many of us had to learn through years of trial and error can be found in this pithy, must-have book.”

Rhonda Rizzo
Pianist, novelist and writer
No Dead Guys website interview


“This publication is full of accessible, supportive, imaginative, wise practical advice and strategy for today’s learner, gleaned from Eales’ many years as a music educator. I think this is a great book and recommend it highly as an easily-digestible guide. Eales recognises the challenges faced by any musician. The reader is encouraged to focus, plan, reflect and explore in a spirit of creativity, mindfulness and engaged curiosity. It presents a fairly comprehensive compendium of useful  and wide-ranging ideas with warmth and understanding without ever being patronising or didactic. Elements of motivation, progress and satisfaction are all acknowledged, both in the nitty-gritty of planned practice and the joy of playfulness and discovery.”

Rachel Sherry
AOTOS Newsletter


My sincere thanks to all the reviewers who have taken the time to read, to reflect on and to write such wonderful reviews of my book. I know from experience the long hours of work that go into writing an informative and helpful review, and it is much appreciated!


Andrew’s essential handbook of practising tips:




PIANODAO includes more than 600 articles and reviews,
which are free for everyone, everywhere to access and read.
Please support the site by making a small donation.



How to Practise Music: The Handbook

THE PIANODAO BOOKSHELF
Books For Musicians, Educators & Enthusiasts


I am thrilled to announce my first publication with Hal Leonard, described by the publishers as:

“The essential, pocket-sized companion for every musician. Accessible and authoritative, How to Practise Music is an ideal guide for anyone learning to play music. Suitable for instrumentalists and vocalists of any genre, this comprehensive handbook will give you a better idea of how to practise music, good reasons for doing so, and the confidence to succeed. “

The book is now available in both UK and US versions (Practice/Practise!):


In this post I will give you an exclusive first look…

Continue reading How to Practise Music: The Handbook

Practice in Perspective

The FERMATA SERIESby ANDREW EALES
Taking the time to pause and reflect


“Life is amazing. And then it’s awful.
And then it’s amazing again.
And in between the amazing and the awful,
it’s ordinary and mundane and routine.
Breathe in the amazing, hold on through the awful,
and relax and exhale during the ordinary.
That’s just living: heartbreaking, soul-healing,
amazing, awful, ordinary life.”

L.R. Knost

Hands up if your first thought, reading this quote, is that Knost’s observations about life equally apply to piano practice? That was certainly my first thought when, having posted this quote three years ago on social media it reappeared as a “memory” this week.

And one of my friends similarly wasted no time before commenting, “this is an excellent description of my average practise session”.

So let’s revisit the quote, substituting practice for life:

Practice is amazing. And then it’s awful.
And then it’s amazing again.
And in between the amazing and the awful,
it’s ordinary and mundane and routine.
Breathe in the amazing, hold on through the awful,
and relax and exhale during the ordinary.
That’s just practising: heartbreaking, soul-healing,
amazing, awful, ordinary practice.”

Ordinary Practice

Is it a surprise that some days everything goes well at the piano, while other days nothing seems to work at all? Sometimes we clearly see where we are going, other times we can barely make out the shapes through the mist.

With this in mind, we perhaps need to question our perspective on practice each time we sit down at the piano, understanding that there will be unpredictable ups and downs, beyond our control, to which we need not attach special blame or emotion.

When I launched Pianodao back in 2015, I wrote:

I continue to observe that many of the problems and issues that I and my students grapple with have very little to do with our pianism and musical understanding, and far more to do with our physical limitations, tension, mental state and internal beliefs… The work of a piano teacher can sometimes have as much to do with helping our students to address these issues as it does with conventional pedagogical content.

I have offered plenty of tips on how to practise elsewhere, but believe we must understand that, regardless of technique or strategy, our practice experience is likely to vary considerably from one day to the next.

It’s crucial that we don’t jump from self-evaluation to self-condemnation. Recognising this basic point helps us to approach practice with a more healthy perspective, alleviating the stresses and frustrations that can blight our daily satisfaction at the piano.


Andrew’s essential handbook of practising tips:




PIANODAO includes more than 600 articles and reviews,
which are free for everyone, everywhere to access and read.
Please support the site by making a small donation.



More Breathing at the Piano

QIGONG FOR PIANO PLAYERS
Breathing & Stretching Exercises For Healthy Practice & Living.


In my article about Breathing at the Piano, I shared some tips and simple exercises to help you reconnect with your breathing while playing.

Breathing at the Piano was warmly received. I have heard from, and worked with, many players who found the simple exercises helpful – even revolutionary for their playing. If you’ve not already printed off and tried the FREE exercises, please check them out before going on.

The aim here is to help players easily check in with our breathing when at the piano. To understand the importance of this, please read about “Awareness in Breathing” in my article What is Qigong and Piano Playing and refer back to my article András Schiff and Natural Breathing for more background.

In this article, I will now build on the foundation of the exercises and ideas previously shared…

Continue reading More Breathing at the Piano

Is Mindfulness relevant to piano playing?

PATHWAYS FOR LIVING • Guest Post by DOUG HANVEY
Setting our piano journey in its living context…


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…

Continue reading Is Mindfulness relevant to piano playing?