NEW from the ABRSM

IMG_3824I came across these books the other day and thought I would highlight them for you all.

We all know that the ABRSM are providers of music exams for beginner pianists to very the very advanced pianist, however some of you may not realise that the ABRSM is is prolific publisher of sheet music. Their published music is now very well researched, my feeling is that their edition of the Schubert piano sonatas is among the best on the market. Think of pretty much any composer and the ABRSM will have it as one of their publications. Bach, Beethoven, Brahms and composers not just beginning with the letter B. IMG_3825

There is a great deal of music for pianists of all abilities. Hot off the press are 3 books called Piano Mix. They are full of very well chosen arrangements of orchestral music, opera, folk songs and jazz. I can almost hear traditionalists complaining, arguing that there is so much original piano music already, why do we need arrangements of other music? Well, why not? There is a long tradition of the great composers doing just that.

IMG_3826Piano Mix are an enjoyable addition to our teaching resources. The pieces are well chosen, carefully graded and feel good to play as piano pieces, yet still clearly faithful to the original work.

They are a good buy too, £4.95, £5.50 and £5.95. Give them a try, I am sure they will be a welcome addition to your teaching.

Have a look at some of my other blogs….

If you would like to discuss any of the above or want to make an appointment to try out one of our wonderful pianos just give us a call on 020 3546 3930 or send an email to

How to Adjust to Different Pianos.

2013-09-08 16.11.52Hello Everyone.

I hope you are all very well and enjoying making wonderful music on all your pianos.

On all your pianos. That is the topic of this posting. We have all spent a lot of time choosing the very best piano we can afford in the space we have and yet we never perform on it, or do gigs on it unless they are in the place we have our piano. I don’t know about you, but there is no way I could have a concert in my music room simply due to lack of space. As pianists we never perform on the instrument we are most familiar with. The instrument we spend all that time developing our technique and working out how to play our pieces is never the one on which we perform. All other instrumentalists would be horrified if they had to play on an instrument that wasn’t their own.

This thought ties in very nicely with a question I had from a young pupil this week who is taking an exam at the end of term. His question was simply ‘what will the piano be like?’ It is of course a question many of my more thoughtful pupils ask. The follow up questions are often, ‘is there a little trick/technique I can use to adjust to the piano?’ and more often ‘can I try the piano before my exam?’canstockphoto1622005

If the answer is yes to the third question, then no problem. If the answer to the first question is that I don’t know, then what? One of my colleagues suggested, I think tongue-in-cheek, first have a little prayer and then just play.

This leads on nicely to exploring the answer to the second question. The first thing to realise is that the piano is as it is and we have to simply accept that it will never be a better instrument than it is. Next is to just play the way you play. Every piano is different and accepting the piano as it is can actually be quite calming. image2From time to time we encounter a piano that is simply dreadful. I used to tour with a violinist and at one venue the piano was by a fair margin the worst piano I have had to play. The pedals had been adjusted so many times that any chance of subtlety with pedalling was impossible. It was an older piano with ivory keys, but many of the tops of the keys were missing. What remained was sticky and uneven. The action was indescribably awful and irregular, however, on the upside it was mostly in tune. At this point it was tempting to be deflated and dread playing quite a complicated programme to what turned out to be quite a large audience. What took over was the challenge to make it sound better and give the audience something very good and enjoyable. In the end it turned out to be one of our most exciting, enjoyable and successful concerts. I am starting to wander off topic here, but the point remains we have to accept what is put in front of us and play.

many_pianosSo, how to cope with the piano that has to be played right now without preparation? While it is important to practice on our own piano to really refine technique and pieces being learnt, do try out pieces on as many other pianos as possible from pianos that do not function particularly well right through to the best piano that can be found. Even the very best pianos can catch us by surprise. At least by having experience of playing many types of pianos it removes the stress of not knowing what a piano will feel or sound like as playing a variety of pianos will have become part of your normal practice routine.

Do listen really carefully, your ears will help you get the very best out of the piano you are playing. Avoid forcing a desired tone out of the piano that can’t deliver what you are wanting. Through listening carefully and accepting the limitations of the instrument you will get the best out of the piano and still remain honest to your performance. Added to that, have in mind what sound you need according to the demands of the piece. Barber22The piano as an instrument is just a tool and you have to be the master of your fingers in order to get the best out of the piano you are playing. Good quality practice is the key. Make sure there has been sufficient slow practice as this will help you to be in control of your fingers and to know every corner of the piece you are playing.

Just like people, every piano is different. Try not to worry about that unknown piano, play as many pianos as possible, listen carefully to the capabilities of the piano and make sure your practice has been thorough.

Enjoy playing and try out lots of pianos.



Music lessons are important. Children who learn to play piano experience all kinds of benefits which will stay with them for the whole of their life. There is a great deal of evidence which supports the thought that learning a musical instrument is good for your children.

Canstock kid writing in classroomIt helps in the development of language and reading skills, motor skills, problem solving, maths and general accelerated learning for all other subjects. Better memory, better concentration, better concentration and focus, team building, improved social skills, the list goes on and on. It is also good fun!!

image2So, how good should your first piano be? Surely a new player won’t know the difference between a good or bad instrument and you may as well get the cheapest piano? Sounds like a good plan?

Barber Name Plate


A new piano pupil and pupils right through the early stages really should have the best piano that you can afford. The reason for this is that a new player doesn’t as yet have the necessary skills to properly control the instrument and so using a piano that doesn’t function properly will actually instil bad habits.

canstockphoto1693447Don’t forget children have very elastic brains and adapt to situations more easily than us adults. If a piano has a keyboard that is uneven in touch, some keys working more slowly than others, some sticking down, some not even working at all, will contribute to the development of poor technique.

Added to that if the tone is uneven, or the piano won’t stay in tune, or the sound is of poor quality due to a cracked sound board, the pupil will not be able to develop a good ‘ear.’

I still remember the first two piano pianos we had at home. My parents were innocent to the requirements that were really needed for learning piano and information wasn’t so easily available in rural Worcestershire in the 1970’s. Our early pianos were forever suffering from keys that didn’t work efficiently, hammers would break and one piano just couldn’t hold its tuning.malvern-hills

I grew out of our local piano teacher and we eventually found a much better teacher  who, fortunately was great at advising us on what piano we should get. When we finally had a decent piano installed I realised that much of the way I played didn’t work and had to spend a great deal of time figuring out how to use a piano that actually worked well. With the help of my teacher I had to rewire much of the way I played and hear the piano. This took a great chunk of time, effort and patience (for me, my teacher and long suffering parents)

Barber August 2014 071A decent piano that works as it should will encourage your children to keep practising and they will then learn much more quickly. Think of a piano in the same way you would when purchasing a car. Very old pianos and poorly maintained pianos can have sluggish mechanisms which is a bit like learning to drive a car that has worn brakes or an engine that isn’t firing properly.

I do feel it is my mission to help as many families as I can, find the best piano they can afford and help young pianists grow into excellent and happy musicians.

Elsewhere on the Pianolobby website is our Used Piano Guide and our Easy To Buy Guide which is free to download and I hope of some help to you.

Thank you for reading.

Now, here’s an opportunity….

2013-07-21 15.11.42Hello everyone.

We have just had in this beautiful upright piano which was a much loved family piano. It has been used by children learning to play over a number of years and is now looking for a new home now that the children have grown up and sadly no longer play piano.

It is in excellent mechanical condition with ideally weighted keys, not too heavy and not too light. The sound produced is rich and warm with a very good sustain.

We have to admit that this upright piano is a bit of an enigma to us. We know very little about Guilbert as a piano company, but suspect that this is a Japanese built piano using a French name. We all know that the Japanese build excellent pianos and that this piano is a beautifully built piano. We are very sure that this piano is a perfect piano on which to learn. It is robust due to its superb construction, the superb action is versatile and ideal for little fingers just starting to play piano as well as those of much greater skills.

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2013-07-21 15.17.20In the open air, the rich rosewood case appears quite vibrant, however in a room it is very subdued and warm. As a result of being in a lively family home, the case of this piano has one or two minor knocks and blemishes. For me, these minor skirmishes seem to add to the character, each being part of the life story of this piano. This is a handsome instrument and has some very nice design touches, for example, there is a beautiful shaping of the legs.

We are offering this piano for sale at £1800 and it comes with a 5 year warranty, free adjustable stool, free first tuning and free local delivery (within M25) to a ground floor room.

Come and give it a try, you will love to have this piano for the whole family to have a play.

2013-07-21 15.09.43


Do You Suffer From Piano Playing Injuries?

Lady Playing Piano


Playing piano just isn’t natural! We are not born with the ability to play piano, it has to be learned. Due to the physical nature of playing the piano and the repetitive nature of practice, injuries can occur. Even the most relaxed players can experience difficulties. However, piano practice shouldn’t result in an injury and regular practice done correctly with relaxed shoulders, elbows and wrists will not lead to discomfort.

It might be that the pianistic challenge is too high resulting in tension in the hand and stress in the mind.

My first comment, playing piano isn’t natural may appear flippant, but it is quite true. Most musical instruments puts the body under a certain amount of unnatural strain and the piano is amongst the most guilty.

This strain can be complicated by the age of the pianist, physical development, technique and demands of the pieces being played. Sheet musicAnyone studying piano should practice playing as naturally as possible. Some pianists I have seen adopt contorted postures, lifting fingers at odd angles, leaning too far forward, and move in other unnatural ways.  Much of this takes place in an attempt to execute difficult passages, or to bring out emotion, or it may be simply a bad habit. Forming good habits is essential, as is learning appropriate technique.

What are the main problems? 

  1. Tension. Productive practice ceases when the pianist has tension. On top of this it spoils the beauty of the sound and tensed arms, elbows and wrists will hinder mobility. Try to maintain a good posture and beware of tensing in the body.
  2. Finger Tension. Good technique involves the use of the whole arm and if one plays only moving fingers the rest of the arm will become tense leading to discomfort as well as an over percussive sound.
  3. Posture. Sitting correctly is important in preventing injury. Avoid sitting too close or too far away. Slouching, raising shoulders and having elbows too close of too far from the body also cause difficulties.
  4. Irregular Playing. Prolonged gaps followed by sudden and long hours of practice can also cause stress and damage to the hands. It might be that there is a deadline fast approaching and in order to catch up, long hours of practice each day begins. This panic practice is stressful and hurried, skipping over all the necessary good thoughtful practice. The result is a poorer performance and tension affecting those under trained and overworked muscles from the sudden extra playing.

piano-sheet-musicHow can we pianists avoid these problems? 

Play in way that is most natural. Attempt to have an ease of playing making every movement as if the hand is still at rest. Try to stay relaxed avoiding postures and movements that feel unnatural. Taking regular breaks can help in the prevention of injury.

Keep a good posture. Poor posture such as sitting too close or leaning in causes tension. Avoid hunching shoulders too as this restricts movement of the whole upper body.

Make sure to have the most comfortable fingering. Often the fingering in the printed music is good, but treat this as a guide and take time to find fingering that is comfortable as this could prevent injury.

Play repertoire that is appropriate to ones technical level, avoiding pieces that require more physical ability than is currently possible must be a consideration. Selecting pieces that is neither too easy or hard gives the pianist the chance of progressing in stages rather than jumping into overly challenging pieces and then having to face problems and injuries.

There are many techniques in maintaining a healthy posture when playing which are worth detailed study. Generally, focus on avoid stress and tension, try to keep a relaxed manner and use pieces that are technically appropriate, practicing regularly in short bursts.

Prevention is always the best way to go so stay alert and enjoy your healthy playing.










imgresHello everyone,

I’m not a huge fan of practical music exams generally, they have their place for piano pupils and role to play, for sure but they have to be treated with care.

The danger, it strikes me is that they can become THE reason to play a musical instrument and then the exam pieces become the only pieces that are learnt well. The piano repertoire is huge and learning the 24 pieces that one would need to get from grade 1 to 8 doesn’t cover enough of the repertoire to make a rounded musician, amateur or professional. imgres

Having said that, I am aware that the exam boards do spend a huge amount of time and effort in getting together a balanced and interesting syllabus. Over the years each exam board has accumulated quite a large list of music they have used and it appears that the ABRSM has noticed this and published a series of books entitled Encore. They are really good.

imgresThey are billed as the official collection of the best-loved ABRSM piano exam pieces from grades 1 to 8, suitable for all ages and abilities. There’s a good mix of around 70 pieces from the last 20 or so years and with each piece there is a little background about the composer and things to watch out for to help with the practice.

The thinking behind this series of books is to help develop and introduce new skills and technique between grades, find music for a concert or repertoire away from the formal exam. Its aim is to help capture a sense of fun for younger students and adults returning to piano playing. imgres

Whether you’re working through our exams, playing informally, or planning a performance, Encore is full of music you’ll want to play over and again. Have a look, you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

All the best,



Tips to help children practice

March 15 076Learning a musical instrument is hard work, time consuming too. Put in those terms, it is amazing that anybody learns instruments, especially today when there are so many wonderful and exciting distractions. However, I firmly believe that learning a musical instrument is fun. Even now after playing the piano for 40 years I still get a buzz from figuring out something new and overcoming challenges in a piece of music. I get the same feeling when I see my piano pupils overcoming their piano hurdles too.

Nevertheless, it can be a challenge to get younger piano pupils to practice. The sooner a practice routine has been established, the sooner a pupil will start to find success. I hope that the following will be of help to parents and pupils.canstockphoto24138411

imagesSetting a time for practice and for how long may help. In the early stages it doesn’t have to be for very long, 5 minutes every day can be enough for very young children. This can be built up as they progress. The set length of time can really help focus energies in the practice, bring about more progress and have a greater sense of accomplishment.

Have a goal for the practice. It can be motivating to have a goal to aim for and help keep the practice as efficient as possible. It might be on say Monday to figure out the first phrase of a piece without stopping due to a mistake, the goal for Tuesday could be to play the second phrase. This accumulates and by the end of the week the child will be able to play the whole piece. That is a great motivator and the sense of accomplishment surely adds to the enjoyment.

canstockphoto9290027It might be helpful to have the teacher set goals for each practice. However it is important for the child to try to figure out what feels possible in each practice too. I am a huge fan of self-directed learning.

Parental involvement is essential. In the early stages sitting with your child really helps encourage children get started. Later on it might just be reminding the child to practice. canstockphoto15366624

Being an audience for your child allowing them to show off followed by enthusiastic cheers is also a great motivator.  Make sure to praise the effort, not just the end result. Praising the effort rewards the attempt and encourages your child to keep trying.

Get music that children are keen to play. Buy anthologies of music that the child can browse, so they can get excited by the music. I mix up styles when teaching, from classical music to jazz styles, songs from shows, film music and music from computor games.

Buyers GuideMake it easy for a child to practice and avoid having the piano in an isolated spot. I had a pupil who enjoyed his lessons but was reluctant to practice. The parents moved the piano to the kitchen where the family gathered. It hasn’t been great for the piano, it now has a fair few chips on the casework and in the long term the greater moisture of the air isn’t ideal. However their son practices the piano everyday and makes huge progress.

Inevitably all children have a favourite piece they go back to. They go back to these because they enjoy playing them. And don’t forget, new pieces which feel difficult now could soon become the next favourites….

Superb Yamaha U1

Part of our May collection is this superb Yamaha U1. We have been playing this instrument a great deal since its arrival this week and we are sure it won’t be around for long.

This superb instrument is in immaculate condition both inside and out and has the feel and sound of an instrument that is much younger. It is simply a pleasure to sit and play this wonderful piano!

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It was built in 1983 and is a typical Yamaha. Pianists from complete beginners to very accomplished musicians will feel very much at home on this piano. We are sure that this piano will keep every member of the family happy! 2013-05-03 14.45.17

We are offering this piano for sale at £3500 which includes free local delivery to a ground floor room, free stool, free first tuning and a 5 year warranty.





If you would like more information about this piano or any other piano we have in stock, please call Julian on 020 3645 3930 or send an email to:

To gather more useful tips about buying a piano there is a lot more information on this website. Click on the #Used Piano and #The Easy Way to Buy a Piano on the home page.

Preparing For a Piano Concert

canstockphoto1622005Many piano teachers organise piano recitals for their pupils and these may take place in a school or in a teacher’s house, the list of possibilities is nearly endless . For piano pupils these are useful platforms to try out pieces that are perhaps being prepared for an exam, a competition, for experience of playing in front of people or just for fun.

All the piano teachers I know are keen to make these events fun and informal, but for young performers these events can be quite daunting, even when a pupil has experience of playing many times before. So, perhaps a strategy on how to approach these events might be useful. This post is for all you young (and perhaps not so young) performers as a little help on getting ready to play in a concert.

A few tips on how to approach your Piano Recital Performance

  1. Start preparing for the concert early. Not so early that you get bored or have a last minute panic. canstockphoto15549334
  2. Take your time. Learn your piece steadily and thoroughly.
  3. Select you music carefully. Do you enjoy playing this piece? Have you spent enough time with this piece?
  4. Discuss options with your teacher.
  5. Are you comfortable with the level of difficulty? I have found from my own playing and from teaching that choosing a piece that is a little easier than currently being learnt works best. imgres
  6. Make sure you know all the details in the piece such as tempo, articulation, dynamics and expression marks. These will help you to present a more characterful performance.
  7. Having a practice time-table can be useful.
  8. Work on difficult sections first.
  9. Try to think what you would like to achieve in each practice and practice every day.
  10. Things that can get overlooked: Is your piano in tune? Is lighting good at the piano? Are you free from distractions? FUCHS & MOHR
  11. Organise your copy of the music. Practice page turns, if you need to use a photocopy to avoid a page turn, get it organised as soon as possible.
  12. If you are playing more than one piece, do get used to playing them through as a complete programme.
  13. It can be useful (and revealing) to record your practice. Become your own teacher!
  14. Play to family and friends as a practice concert. This is a great way to overcome nerves.
  15. As pianists, we never get to perform on our own instruments. Try out your piece on different pianos this will help when playing a different piano in concert.
  16. Most of all, enjoy the preparation process and enjoy your performance.

canstockphoto24138411I hope this is of help to all you young performers and hope you will want to carry on and play even more. If you have any tips you would like to share, or some of your concert experiences please send them to me:


LIPPMANN. Brand New Family Piano

Lippmann 112We have just had in a Lippmann 112. At Pianolobby we are very fond of this piano company. Their quality gets better and better and makes an ideal piano for every young piano pupil. 

This piano is a gem. It is only 112cm tall but makes not only a terrific sound, but a whole range of wonderful sounds. We were surprised how brilliant this little piano sounded and how beautiful it felt to play. We couldn’t wait to get one in stock to offer you for sale!

It is built with the very latest construction techniques in its state of the art factory using  very high quality materials. It even has a slow fall mechanism to stop the lid trapping little fingers on the keyboard. Lippmann-Aug-13-update-002-682x682

Lippmann make superb student pianos. They are ideal for young fingers, possess a rich warm tone and the beautiful design will be a welcome addition to your home.

Pianolobby are offering this piano for sale at £2350. This comes with a very reassuring 5 year warranty, free stool, free first tuning and free local delivery to a ground floor room.

If you would like more information about this piano or any other piano we have in stock, please call Julian on 020 3645 3930 or send an email to:

To gather more useful tips about buying a piano there is a lot more information on this website. Click on the #Used Piano and #The Easy Way to Buy a Piano on the home page.