Way of Piano Best Piano Blog

Pathways for Teaching

Pianodao‘s dedicated page for teacher colleagues brings together some of the site’s most useful resources for professionals…

Pianodao advocates a repertoire-rich approach to piano teaching, with a core focus on helping pupils develop their own lifelong enthusiasm for music.

This goal is predicated on nurturing an intrinsic love of music, rather than needing to depend heavily on extrinsic motivations such as competitions and exams. Play is the single most powerful vehicle for learning, and is at the heart of what it means to be alive.

Underpinning this, Pianodao promotes awareness and understanding of the three treasures of musical learning, which together (and in correct balance) promote success at the piano: musical essence, technique and understanding.

The ultimate aim of the best music education is for our students to develop into musicians with an Active Repertoire of pieces that they enjoy playing and can share with confidence and ownership.



Selected Highlights:

Essential Piano Teaching Resources 2022-23

It can be overwhelming keeping track of all the latest and best resources for piano teaching. As we enter another academic year, I have therefore collated this list of some of the most essential educational resources and piano music publications of the last couple of years or so…

The Problem with Method Books

In this post I will explain why there will never be a truly perfect Method Book. We’ll consider a balanced curriculum, stare into the abyss of a world without Method Books at all, and hopefully come away with a better idea of how to use Method Books in a sensible, balanced way.

Teaching Adults to Play the Piano

There are many arguments for learning with a “good teacher”, but many adults seem to struggle finding one who is sympathetic to their goals and in tune with their needs. In this post I share some of the strategies which have worked for me over the last three decades of teaching these enthusiastic learners…

The Three Treasures of Musical Learning

Understanding the importance of the “Three Treasures” of musical learning empowers teachers to deliver holistic, effective tuition and support to all our students.

Piano Teaching and the Art of Criticism

One of the key roles of a piano teacher is to help their students make direct improvements in their playing. To do this, we must identify areas for improvement and… well, faults. In this article I will share some suggestions on how to offer constructive, helpful criticism, leading to positive progress and enthusiastic learning.

“Sound before symbol”: lessons from history

If we commit to an approach that is fundamentally based in aural transmission and musicality, while equally still insisting on the importance of fluent notation reading, then we can preserve and build upon the great traditions of classical music education…

Explore All:

Should Piano Teaching Be Regulated?

Were the music teaching profession regulated, with minimum qualifications and monitored standards, what might that really look like in practice, and how might it impact educational opportunity and community music making? Here are some thoughts…

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…

Podcast with Chris Woods

I was recently invited to take part in the Music Education Podcast, hosted by Chris Woods, to talk about How to Practise Music… you can listen here:

The Gamification of Musical Learning

In what has been hailed as the “Ludic (play-centric) Century”. we can see growing evidence of gamification in music education.. In this article I consider the transformative impact this may be having, for better or worse…

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 Common Approach 2022

Fully updated and now available as a free online resource, A Common Approach 2022 is perhaps the ultimate instrumental music teaching manual, offering a complete curriculum and extensive lesson activities for most instruments, including piano and keyboard…

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…

Musicians Who Teach

I have no hesitation in recommending this book as an essential primer that should be required reading for all who teach singing or a musical instrument in the UK. Buy it, absorb it, and you will certainly have no regrets!

The Piano Teachers’ Course

Currently in its 13th year, the Piano Teachers’ Course UK (PTC) is the longest-running course of its kind in this country, specifically designed for pianists and piano teachers who wish to enhance their professional teaching skills, come together for inspiration and become part of a motivated, supportive musical network…

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?

Making Peace with your Inner Musician

“Those who are motivated only by desire for the fruits of action are miserable, for they are constantly anxious about the results of what they do.” Bhagavad Gita. To what extent do ‘results’ cause anxiety in your life? How do we make peace with our inner musician?

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…

16 Attributes of a Good Teacher

“It’s never been more important for those of us who care about music education to consider the character qualities that underpin good teaching, rather than simply learning how to check boxes on forms, or follow the latest method.”… Some ideas to challenge us all this weekend…

ABRSM Piano Scales 2021

With the publication of their 2021-22 Piano Syllabus (reviewed in full here), ABRSM have given their scales requirements a significant overhaul, also publishing new scales books and resources.

Adapting to Change

Change sometimes takes us by surprise, a bolt from the blue, and in the early months of 2020 we have all experienced such a jolt to our way of life as countries around the world quickly followed each other into lockdown.

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?

Hear, Sing, Play, Read, Write?

It is often asserted that music is learnt in the same way as language. But perhaps it’s actually rather more complex than that…

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.

Piano Teaching: An Isolated Existence?

Those of us who work alone need to make efforts to build a support network, both professional and personal, so that even as our work thrives, so too does our mental health, social and emotional wellbeing…

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?

Why Bother with Scales?

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

“You Composed This!”

Guest Author Garreth Brooke encourages us to introduce our students to the joys of composing their own music, and shares practical strategies for getting started …

Returning to Learning

What can piano teachers learn from stepping into the shoes of the beginner and taking up a new skill or hobby? Quite a lot, in my experience…

Personalised Learning

Personalised learning will help you and your children become confident independent players with a lifelong love of music. Here’s why…

The Piano Teacher’s Posture

All good piano teachers are concerned to teach and monitor good posture to their students, and as players we are hopefully equally aware of our own posture at the piano.

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.

Effective Musical Learning

Recognising that the principle of “Sound before Symbol” is a universal one in musical learning, we should not confine our discussion to early years learning, but to the benefits of having an “auditory model” of pieces at all stages of our musical learning and development…

Rhythm Games (download)

A gift to Pianodao readers, this set of 37 full-sized cards are mostly in Common time, with a handful in Compound time. PLUS: a few ideas of games you can play with students which will put these flash cards to creative use…

Let’s talk about our practice expectations

When teachers and parents nurture enthusiasm, practice will invariably follow, and it will be of the productive sort that’s fundamentally motivated by the internal goals of the student…




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