Way of Piano Best Piano Blog

Pathways for Playing

Pianodao advocates a repertoire-rich approach to piano playing, with a focus on developing an Active Repertoire of pieces which you can confidently play any time, any place.

Pianodao includes many articles to support your piano practice, playing and performance, offering expert guidance and encouragement. You can explore this archive of advice below.

Andrew also offers a flexible range of personalised learning opportunities, from expert tuition to bespoke advice and friendly support, available in person at his studio, to his popular video feedback service, available online wherever in the world you are:


Also available • Andrew’s essential handbook



Selected Highlights:

Who needs piano lessons anyway?

More and more players, especially adult beginners, are trying to teach themselves to play the piano without the support of a good teacher. And there are a growing number of apps, videos and books to help. What (if anything) does a teacher offer that can’t be found elsewhere?

Thoughts on the Art of Practice

In this incredibly helpful post from the internationally acclaimed concert pianist Philip Fowke, he shares a wealth of wise advice which I am delighted he has agreed to make public via the Pianodao website. There is so much here to take in, and of such lasting value…

Why Bother with Scales?

An in-depth look at the learning benefits, the importance of fingering, cumulative learning, and a more creative approach:

What Can You Play?

Getting the right balance between work and play at the piano is a sure way to stay motivated, foster musical enjoyment, stave off frustration, and develop confidence as the true musicians that we no doubt want to be and can be…

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Keeping Your Own Piano Journal

Have you considered keeping your own Piano Journal? In this post I explain how you can use a journal to improve your progress, deepen your engagement, track progress, get organised and plan for the future…

How to Practise Music: The Reviews

Since the international publication of my book HOW TO PRACTISE MUSIC, I have been thrilled and touched by the many wonderful comments I have received and reviews that have appeared. Here is a new, updated selection…

ABRSM to update their professional diplomas

ABRSM have just announced their intention to replace their entire range of diploma assessments in performance, teaching and direction with new qualifications by 2024. Here’s their full announcement, together with …

Why do we play the piano?

The question of why we play the piano would seem to be both an obvious one to ask and an easy one to answer. And yet it rarely is… In this article I consider four “types” of player, while recognising that most of us combine aspects of most or all…

The Serial Starter

I’m delighted to introduce this Guest Post in which Joanna García asks, “are you a serial starter?” and offers encouragement to develop your repertoire…

Singing in Aural Tests: the Bottom Line

The topic of singing in aural tests has long been a contentious one, but has become more so in recent years. Not only have growing numbers of teachers noted their unpopularity with students, but ongoing research in the field of cognitive science now increasingly calls into question the previously assumed validity of such tests…

A Fresh Perspective

Are you ready for a fresh perspective on your playing? If so, here are some points to bear in mind…

“The Thinking Pianist” Summer Course

The Thinking Pianist is the brainchild of David Jones, an established pianist, educator, and presently Head of Keyboard Studies at Cheltenham Ladies’ College. In this interview, I talk to Jones about what it is that makes this particular course special, and distinct from other successful summer schools…

The Pianist’s Procrastination

Let today be the day to say “Goodbye” to procrastination. The first step can be trodden, the first brick can be laid, and visible progress can be achieved. Why not today?

Competition & Conflict

“To compete always damages your soul.” Maria João Pires. We don’t need to beat others to have value… a reflection on the nature of competition.

Andor Földes on being a ‘Child Prodigy’

Contributing to an interesting discussion about ‘child prodigy’ on social media, I have recently mentioned this quote from Földes book, and thought it worth also sharing here, together with some thoughts on how we nurture talent and more…

Musical Achievement, Assessment and Motivation

ABRSM have recently launched a debate into the nature of musical achievement, assessment, and intrinsic motivation. How do these three relate, if at all? Here is my considered response to the issues that have been raised by their now-infamous tweet…

The Future of ABRSM Grades?

Performance Grades place all aspects of musical development under the spotlight in their appropriate context: MUSIC. With LIVE Performance Grades, ABRSM have an opportunity to turn the tide and reinvigorate music assessment. Here are the reasons why I believe they offer a bright future for the piano grades…

The Pianist’s Limits

“It is certainly not negative, lacking in faith or discouraging to recognise, wisely, that we all have limitations. On the contrary: it is foolish, arrogant and self-defeating to think otherwise…”

The Post-Pandemic Piano Player

As we emerge from the current pandemic, what will we all have learnt? How will we have changed in general, and as piano players?

Rediscovering the Magic of Piano

There’s never been a better time to rediscover the magic, to ditch competitive striving in music education and instead embrace a deep, transformative love for music…

The Pianist’s Imperfection

If we could all, as piano players and teachers, have a lighter spirit and be kinder to ourselves and each other, I rather suspect that we would find that our pursuit of excellence and our appreciation of the beauty within “imperfection” actually go very nicely hand in hand…

The Pianist’s Resolution

The start of any new year or season is for many a time for making resolutions: for ambition, grit and determination. But what are the ingredients of perseverance which will foster that success?

Playing like the Winter Sun

Cherish the music you play. Dazzle with the easy! Stop thinking in terms of levels and progress, and start thinking about reaching the soul. Play like the winter sun…

Breathing with Bach

In this lesson, we address the importance of the breath in alleviating shoulder tension, using three dance movements from the Partita as example repertoire.

Simple fixes for easing piano pain

From doubting whether she might be able to continue playing, Bernice rediscovered and affirmed the joy that playing an instrument brings into her life. Here’s how…

Do you believe in classical music?

It is odd that some piano teachers seem to avoid classical music, unless and until it is specifically requested by a student or otherwise required. Why is this?

Developing Fluency

The importance of hearing and rehearsing the whole piece, uninterrupted …

Three types of Repertoire

Since writing my article ‘What can you play?’ readers have shown quite an interest in my concept of Active Repertoire. Now I am going to explain a little more about how Active Repertoire fits into the wider picture of your piano journey.

Piano Lessons: Dealing with Anxiety

I am sure that most piano teachers will be alert to the fact that some pupils coming to lessons are anxious. This post will look at some reasons for that, and offer some suggestions that might help normalise lessons.

Louis Couperin … on the Piano?

At my recent piano recital, I started with the very beautiful Chaconne in F major by the early French Baroque composer Louis Couperin (1626-61), uncle of the far better known François Couperin “Le Grand” (1668-1731).

The Pianist’s Lineage

Until quite recently it never occurred to me to consider who my teacher’s teacher’s teacher’s teacher was…

Music Collaboration Online

SoundCloud has become, since its inception in August 2007, the website of choice for collaborating musicians, offering them the ability to freely upload tracks, sharing them privately with selected recipients, downloading, and leaving timed comments.

András Schiff & Natural Breathing

“For me, it is breathing that is vital. You must breathe naturally, like a singer. Pianists and string players often tend to forget the necessity of breathing and they can become very tense; then they get back pains and wrist pains and so on. Usually it can be sorted out through the breathing.”

Jorge Bolet on competitions

The journalist Jeremy Nicholas interviewed legendary pianist Jorge Bolet back in 1977, and among other things asked him why “The Romantic Pianist” seemed already by then to have vanished…

Andrei Gavrilov’s concerns

Andrei Gavrilov is one of the world’s finest concert pianists, who has in recent years dedicated himself to giving master-classes to upcoming players around the world. So when he comments on the current state of music education and piano playing, it is certainly worth listening…



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