Some people swear by them; others detest them with a passion. Love them or hate them, exercises are a crucial part of the pianist's technical regime, and discussions about the pros and cons of exercises in online piano forums and elsewhere are often as heated as the Brexit debate!
Like sportspeople, musicians need to train. We call training "practicing" - a catch-all term that encompasses learning new music, reviving previously-learnt music, keeping repertoire going and honing skills. We all have strengths and weaknesses, whether a professional or amateur musician, and understanding and appreciating our individual strengths and weaknesses is important in how we approach… Continue reading Train your weaknesses
In the second of my videos produced for Casio Music and Pianist Magazine, I discuss some basic aspects of technique including staccato and legato https://youtu.be/c-ms3yz9-r4 New e-book from Graham Fitch - Practising the Piano: an introduction to practice strategies and piano technique. Available free from Casio Music
American pianist and teacher Eleonor Bindman is, by her own admission, devoted to the music of J S Bach. She has been praised for her performances and recordings of Bach's keyboard music and has made a transcription for piano 4-hands of the complete Brandenberg Concertos (read more here). In her 'Stepping Stones to Bach' Eleonor… Continue reading Eleonor Bindman’s Stepping Stones to Bach
The Piano and the Art of Illusion Guest post by Lynne Phillips A recent lesson with a young beginner got me thinking about something that has fascinated me for many years: the art of illusion. Is it our job, as musicians, to simply create something, whether that’s a story, an emotion, a landscape, or a… Continue reading Pulling the rabbit out of the hat
Digital pianos offer musicians, professional or amateur, regardless of their ability level, a user-friendly, versatile instrument on which to practice and perform, and perhaps their greatest asset is that these instruments have a volume control and headphone jack, enabling the player to practice without disturbing others, at any time of the day or night. This… Continue reading An entry-level compact digital piano to help you learn and love music
Guest post by Eleonor Bindman Sight reading is a very important skill which is often neglected during piano lessons and while practicing because of time constraints. It’s way at the bottom of our list of priorities and the fact that it seems challenging and not “fun” doesn’t help matters. In my early years of teaching… Continue reading How to Approach Sight Reading for Yourself or With Your Students
We are very lucky as pianists/piano teachers to have such a wide repertoire, and one which is constantly being expanded as composers continue to write for the piano. Which is why I find it rather disconcerting when new anthologies of piano music are released purporting to offer "variety" when in fact they merely present a… Continue reading Seeking diversity in anthologies and exam repertoire
With time always moving on, some adult piano learners are keen to understand how to optimise their practice time so as to achieve the goals they have set for themselves. After all, beyond a certain age, there is a finite window of opportunity to get on top of any complex new skill, and piano is surely that.
….never had I had a piano teacher so demanding and tyrannical – Leonard Bernstein on Isabelle Vengerova The composer Philip Glass described her as somewhere “between intimidating and terrifying” whose lessons invariably left students “shaken and silent”, while Virgil Thomson wrote that she had a “no-nonsense approach to musical skills and a no-fooling-around treatment of… Continue reading Pedagogues and Demigods