Way of Piano Best Piano Blog

Pathways for Teaching

Pianodao‘s dedicated page for educators brings together the site’s articles relating to our teaching values, approaches and work.

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

Based on leading research into effective learning, the site is a passionate advocate for putting the PLAY back into playing the piano.

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 ultimately at the very heart of what it means to be alive.

Underpinning this, Pianodao promotes awareness and understanding of how to become a Three-Dimensional Pianist, developing Musical Mind, Body and Soul.

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 Education Resources 2023-24

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 to take with us into the coming months…

Putting the PLAY back into Playing the Piano

Are you bored by method-book teaching, disappointed by the exam system, and perplexed to find that piano isn’t proving more fulfilling? If so, then this radical new manifesto for piano education in the 21st Century is for you!

The Three-Dimensional Pianist

Understanding the importance of the three dimensions of musical learning, Musical Mind, Musical Body and Musical Soul, empowers us to teach, learn and practise music holistically, and make more effective and lasting progress at the piano…

Teaching Adults to Play the Piano

Adults do not learn in the same way as children. A different approach is clearly needed. In this post I share some of the strategies which have worked for me over the last three decades of teaching adult learners…

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…

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…

Explore All:

ABRSM Performance Diplomas

ABRSM recently published the full details of their new digital-only LRSM and FRSM Performance Diplomas.

Here’s a brand new and fully updated article outlining these qualifications, and addressing some of the concerns being raised within the profession…

Active Repertoire, Winter 23/24

The Active Repertoire Challenge offers an exciting pathway to a more motivated and truly rewarding piano journey. Are you ready to take part? If so, here’s your latest FREE sheet to plan and track your progress during the Winter months:

Active Repertoire • Autumn 2023

The Active Repertoire Challenge is now quarterly, with a radical redesign that offers a more playful, engaging format that aims both to promote more thought and discussion about music, and to inspire more creative curiosity…

Why use Graded Anthologies?

Whether or not you are interested in taking graded exams, anthologies of piano music selected for specific levels of playing can offer many advantages…

The Appeal of Einaudi’s Music

Why do so many millions connect with the piano music of Ludovico Einaudi, and what can we learn from his extraordinary popularity?

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…

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…

How to Practise Music

The essential, pocket-sized companion for every musician!

Accessible and authoritative, HOW TO PRACTISE MUSIC is Andrew’s highly acclaimed book of tips for anyone who wants to get more out of their practice…

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…

ABRSM’s Performance Grades

Having long recommended ABRSM to my students, it has been particularly interesting to see the development of their new Performance Grades, which place all aspects of musical development under the spotlight in their appropriate context: MUSIC.

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!

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?

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.

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:

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.

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.

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…

“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…

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