….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
The first of a series of short films made in collaboration with Casio UK and Pianist magazine. In this film, I offer suggestions on how to make the most of limited practice time, and making practising productive and most of all enjoyable. Find out more about the Casio Premium Grand Hybrid https://youtu.be/hzZT_LyOJwE Frances Wilson is… Continue reading Practising Tips with Frances Wilson
....not where you are and not where you want them to be but where they really are Sound advice for teachers from Frances Clark, American pianist and pedagogue. Too often teachers place unrealistic expectations and demands on their students, often further reinforced by pushy parents. I struggled myself with this when I was fairly new… Continue reading Meet the student where they are…..
Teachers and students are familiar with the practice diary, a notebook in which teachers write what students should be working on between lessons and students, or their parents, note how much practising has been done. When I taught children, I found the practice diary something of a chore: I would forget to write in what… Continue reading The no-practice diary
The title of this post is a quote from the British actor Michael Caine's memoirs which he read on Radio 4's Book of the Week programme over Christmas week. The phrase was first mentioned when he was describing setbacks in his early career and how he would always try to find a positive in a… Continue reading Use the Difficulty
This questioning curiosity is one of the magical things for me about learning and practising at the piano; there is nothing more exciting that having struggled with something, to notice exactly what I’m doing, find a fix and then discover that it works and the problem is solved/solveable!
For the musician looking to further their studies after Grade 8 Performance Diplomas offer a pathway to fully accredited professional qualifications, recognised by other musicians and music professionals around the world. A diploma, even at the lowest Associate level, is significantly more involved than Grade 8, requiring a high degree of attainment, combined with a… Continue reading New Diploma Syllabus from Trinity College London
If we are serious about our music, our progress with our repertoire and our technical and artistic development, we need to establish good and regular practising habits, as regular as cleaning one’s teeth. No one, not even professional musicians at the top of their game, is born with an innate talent which negates the need… Continue reading Feeding the practise habit
Practice should reflect age and level. Five to ten minutes of practice at a time for a very young beginner is usually good. For those starting out regardless of age, five to ten minutes per day, moving to two sessions per day of that duration, is recommended to gradually build both concentration and engagement.
Those of us who teach and play ourselves understand that music requires commitment in the form of consistent, focused practising. This does not mean a snatched half-hour here or there or a blitz the night before the weekly piano lesson, but regular engagement with the instrument and its literature (at least 5 days out of… Continue reading The power of “yet”