Sheet Music Review
I Back in 2008, ABRSM published a series of books called Piano Specimen Sight-Reading Tests. Although deserving an award for having the most utilitarian and uninspiring titles in my whole music collection, they have nonetheless rarely been out of action in the intervening years.
In short, they were an essential purchase for any piano teacher preparing students for ABRSM’s world-leading piano grade examinations, and have seen very active service over many years.
Since 2008, many others have brought out alternative products to help teachers and students prepare for the sight-reading element of ABRSM exams. Paul Harris’s ubiquitous and respected Improve Your Sight-Reading series has been updated more than once, and now includes audio tracks. Useful and innovative alternatives have also appeared from Alan Bullard, Samantha Coates, e-music maestro and several others.
Now ABRSM return with a new series bearing the slightly-less scary title More Piano Sight-Reading, a suite of eight new books, one to tie in with each of their grades.
A superficial look at the eight books suggests that these aren’t radically different from their predecessors (which, I should add, are still valid, as the syllabus itself remains unchanged). However, a more detailed look reveals several tweaks and changes to the format which, between them, make the new books a step-improvement on the older ones.
For this review, I will focus on five specific improvements which I think make this new series a superior alternative to the previous books.
Continue reading More Piano Sight-Reading from ABRSM
Exclusive interview with best-selling author Samantha Coates
Sydney-based music teacher and author Samantha Coates dazzled at this year’s Music Education Expo event, with a presentation brimming with energy and enthusiasm.
It was a pleasure to catch up with her afterwards to talk about her publications. In a warm, wide-ranging conversation, we discussed the importance of literacy, music theory and sight-reading, as well as Samantha’s recently developed passion for rote teaching.
Continue reading Samantha Coates in Conversation
But first I wanted to know more about Samantha’s back story …
Sheet Music Review by Karen Marshall
In my own selection of educational music, I must have over 20 Sight Reading Schemes. I see which is a best fit for my student and then get them to order a copy.
However, I still loan out many to help the student get a very varied experience. Just like reading, I think it’s important that students get a varied amount of material.
With quite a lot available out there, in order to impress me, a sight reading resource needs to be something special.
Well congratulations Sandy Holland and Peter Noke, I am impressed! Here’s why………….
Continue reading Learn to Sight Read
Sheet Music Review
In a recent review I praised Gayle Kowlachyk and E.L. Lancaster’s Piano Studies for Technical Development books, and I’m pleased to say that the duo are back with another set of interesting and highly useful books, Easy Teacher-Student Piano Duets.
This new series collects 59 original compositions, mostly from the pedagogy literature of the mid-late Romantic Era, in three progressive books. As such, it offers an invaluable source-book for teachers everywhere.
Let’s take a closer look…
Continue reading Easy Teacher-Student Piano Duets
Sheet Music Review
Paul Harris’s excellent A Piece a Week series has already prompted many of us to reevaluate how we encourage our students to develop their reading skills at the piano, providing delightful collections of pieces suitable as quick study material at Grades 1 to 3.
I have previously reviewed the Grade 1 and 2 books here, explaining the concept of quick study material in more depth; if you are coming to this review fresh please have a read of that introduction before going on.
I have also reviewed the Grade 3 book here. And for a second opinion, check out Liz Giannopoulos’s comments in her recent article about playing at sight here.
I am delighted to see, and to let you all know that those books have now been joined by the Grade 4 book – so let’s take a quick look!
Continue reading A Piece a Week Grade 4
Guest post by Liz Giannopoulos
Over the past few months I’ve undertaken the challenge to improve the sight-reading ability of my students and help the tutors in the Encore Music team to find new and creative ways to teach sight-reading.
As most of our students are children, this research – and this article – is child-centric but much can still be applied to older learners.
Continue reading Strong Foundations for Playing at Sight
Sheet Music Review
Alison Mathews’ excellent collection Treasure Trove has proved a big hit with my students who have been working through it, and I’m delighted that publishers Editions Musica Ferrum have now brought out another collection composed by her: Doodles.
It is very clear straight away that this publication explores very different terrain to Treasure Trove however.
So what is the concept here, and do I think it works?
Let’s find out…
Continue reading Alison Mathews’ “Doodles”
Sheet music Review
“When pupils can sight-read, not only do they do well in exams but (rather more importantly) it allows them to learn pieces more quickly, which frees up much of our teaching time, allowing us to concentrate on developing the musician. Ultimately, it gives them independence: they are able to learn music on their own – the greatest gift we can give.”
So says best-selling author Paul Harris in the introduction to Improve your sight-reading: Teacher’s Book – latest addition to his ever growing Improve Your Sight-Reading series, just published by Faber Music.
Written to work alongside the well-known, long-published Improve your sight-reading ‘pupil’ books, the Teacher’s Book mirrors the introduction of keys and concepts in those, as well as offering useful tips for teachers.
Most important of all, the Teacher’s Book includes dozens of new progressive practice tests for each of Grades 1-5, which can be used in lessons to complement the use of the pupil books for home practice.
As such, the book offers the potential to elevate what was already a great resource into a more complete sight-reading system which bridges both lesson and home use.
Let’s find out how well it succeeds in this aim…
Continue reading Improve your sight-reading!
Sheet Music Review
Reviewing Paul Harris’s A Piece A Week grade 1 and 2 books last year, I concluded:
“While not all players will have need of these books, a great many will benefit from using them, and A Piece A Week admirably fills a gap in the market for outstanding “quick study” material.
A Piece A Week lives up to the excellent standards Paul Harris and Faber Music have previously set, and for which they are so well known. I would say that the series is a genuine “must have” for all piano teachers.”
In the months since that review, I have started to use the books with students, and can confirm from experience that they succeed in all the respects that I previously hoped and noted. The books really are very good!
Indeed, the quick study format of A Piece a Week is establishing itself as one of my preferred ways of helping students develop their reading ability, which I find nicely complements my generally holistic, multi-sensory approach.
So before reading on, it would be a good idea to recap my previous review of the first two books, which gives a better idea of what the series is all about – you can read it here.
Continue reading A Piece a Week: Grade 3
Sheet Music Reviews
One of the certainties of my professional life in music has been the frequency with which I am asked to sight-read. This can include accompaniments at rehearsals, auditions, and even public concerts. More informally I often find myself sight-reading when pupils bring their own choices of pieces to learn. So I am very grateful to those teachers who, often in spite of my protests, ensured that sight-reading was a part of my musical learning.
Karen Marshall’s recent article ‘A Practical Guide to Teaching Sight-reading’ has been warmly received with more than 2,000 readers already turning to it for advice since it was published at the weekend. This shows the extent to which piano teachers are keen to discover effective ways to teach sight-reading.
As a follow up, I am now going to overview two recent series of publications which aim to break the mould and make sight-reading more relevant and pleasurable than is often the case – innovative and exciting publications which I am sure readers will want to explore…
Continue reading Radical Resources for Sight-Reading