Monday, 1 December 2014

Suzuki piano playlists

ABRSM Playlists

Trinity College London piano playlists

Piano Adventures playlists (including PlayTime, FunTime, ChordTime etc)

AMEB playlists

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Funny, cute and creatively inspiring YouTube videos (music themed)

A collection of amusing YouTube videos to stop you from doing the things you need to be doing.  You're welcome.

An "interactive" piano. This video alternates between hilarious and super cute.

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Want to play “Let It Go” for your grade 6 AMEB exam?

I’m really excited about this piano transcription of “Let it Go” from frozen (video below).

Sheet music of popular songs from Disney or the latest music playing on the radio is usually unsatisfyingly simplified and easy, so I was happily shocked to find the Hal Leonard Piano Solo Frozen book to be around grade 6 AMEB level.  I haven’t gone through the whole book yet, but the syncopation and voicing in their transcription of Let It Go is beautiful.

Monday, 22 September 2014

The benefits of daily piano practice.

Practicing piano isn’t just about advancing “faster.” The following elements of development that occur through regular piano practice won’t happen at all if the only time the piano is touched is during the lesson.
Strong, dexterous fingers.
Many students when they are first learning to play piano find it difficult not to collapse the joint at the end of their finger (the distal interphalangeal joint) when pressing down a key. Playing with collapsed finger joints makes it very difficult to play fast and nearly impossible to achieve a clear, even tone. Careful, daily attention early on during practice is required to build strength in these joints. (Note: this does not mean turning the hand into a “claw” – the hand must remain relaxed, in the shape it is when you drop it by your side, but without the joints collapsing. Tricky isn’t it!)

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Finding time to practise piano daily.

If I tell myself I’ll go for a run when I finish work it doesn't happen.  99% of the time I’ll tell myself I’m too tired, it’s too dark outside now, I don’t have enough energy left, it’s too cold, I’m too hungry, I’m too stressed, I had a particularly hard day and deserve to flop in front of the television etc.  I know this about myself.  If I want to do some exercise I need to get it done in the morning.  The later I leave it, the less likely I am to do it.

Sunday, 14 September 2014

A trick to help beginners learn the names of the white piano keys

Notice that the black keys have a pattern.  They are in alternating groups of 2s and 3s.  It also helps to know that “up” on the piano means moving from left to right, and “down” means moving from right to left.  Go up and down the piano finding the groups of 2s and 3s to familiarise yourself with the geography of the keyboard.

We’re going to call the groups of 2 black notes “dog houses”.  Inside the dog house is D for dog.  Find some D’s, and say out loud “D in the doghouse” as you play them to help drill it into your memory.

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

You need to learn the note names now. No really.

If you have been learning piano for a few years and you still have no idea where two D’s above middle C is on all those lines and spaces you’re not alone.  Learning the names of all of the lines and spaces can seem like an overwhelming task and lots of people hope they can somehow learn piano without ever learning the note names. They get other people to show them how to play their pieces, use mnemonics, convince themselves they'd rather "play by ear", write in the note names, or count up lines and spaces rather than learning the name of each individual line and space. 

It is impossible to fluently read music beyond easy pieces that stay in a five finger position if you can’t instantly recognise the notes individually, and if you can't do that then you are preventing yourself from ever gaining independent access to the many, many, many pieces you know you would love to be able to read.  

Thursday, 2 January 2014

Why isn't my sight reading improving?

Firstly, don’t get disheartened if you have been learning piano for a few years and you still can’t sight read very well.

What you are trying to achieve is enormous.  You are trying to learn how to read in a completely new language. If you have never thought about music as a different language before, here is a definition of “language” from

"any system of formalized symbols, signs, sounds, gestures, or the like used or conceived as a means of communicating thought, emotion etc.: the lanugage of mathematics; sign language."

Music is often referred to as the universal language, because the message it conveys transcends barriers of spoken word between people from different countries.