canstockphoto12108892We all know what we expect from the excellent Yamaha U1 pianos and the U1 we have coming into stock won’t disappoint!

At Pianolobby we always have a Yamaha piano that will suit pretty much everyone in our range, stocking pianos ranging from 3 decades of production.

It is a model built in 1985 and is simply beautiful!! It feels great to play and has a medium bright tone, ideal for the home.

If you would like more information please call Julian on 02036453930 or if you prefer to send an email write to julian@pianolobby.co.ukimages



canstockphoto12108892We love Kawai pianos at Pianolobby. It has been a little while since we have had a Kawai piano in stock, but that is about to change. We are very choosy about which pianos we will stock and we are sure you will love this one…

The model is an HA-20 which was built in 1993 and looks set to be a bit of a bargain!! Keep an eye open for it, it won’t be around for long.

For more information please call Julian on 02036453930 or send an email. Our address is: julian@pianolobby.co.ukimgres images


canstockphoto12108892We at Pianolobby are very excited to announce new stock arriving.

First on the list is a brand new Lippmann piano.

These pianos are a wonderful find. Standing at only 112cm tall isn’t promising but they make a terrific sound, or more accurately, a whole range of wonderful sounds. We were surprised how brilliant this little piano sounded and how beautiful it felt to play.

It is built with the very latest construction techniques in its state of the art factory using  good quality materials. It even has a slow fall mechanism to stop the lid trapping little fingers on the keyboard.Lippmann Fall Mechanism


If you would like more information call Julian on 020 3645 3930 or if you prefer please send an email to: julian@pianolobby.co.uk


WHY TAKE MUSIC EXAMS?      Julian Barber

 ‘Enjoyment through achievement’ say the ABRSM, gaining a ‘certificate is a rewarding experience’ they continue.

There are a number of exam boards, the ABRSM is the biggest, followed by TrinityGulidhall and then the London College of Music. They each broadly offer a variation of the same. The ABRSM (The Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music) is an organisation set up to establish educational standards for instrumental and vocal performance. The Royal schools are: the Royal Academy of music, Royal College of music, Royal Northern and Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama. Each year over 620,000 people take its exams in 90 countries. There are 8 grades and then beyond this, diplomas. The exams can be taken at any age and are for any classical instrument or voice. imgres imgres




But, what is a music exam?

The structure is the same throughout the 8 grades.The technical aspect consists of scales, broken chords and arpeggios. Scales start out hands separately over 2 octaves in simple keys, eventually becoming hands together over 4 octaves in all keys.

Next comes 3 pieces of music. The first piece would be roughly from the Baroque era, the second from Classical or Romantic era and the third from the 20th century. They grow in complexity and length as the student goes through the grades. Then there is sight-reading and lastly aural tests.

There are  definite benefits of taking these exams. It is a reward for all the hard work of the student (and of course the parents and teachers). They can be a motivational tool, a way of measuring personal progress, a performance opportunity, a focus for working, experience of playing in front of someone different and I think most importantly, feed-back from an independent and highly skilled, trained musician.

It is certainly not necessary for all students to follow this path, and some certainly do not thrive when under such pressure. Even the ABRSM points out that ‘Music exams do not suit everyone and exam syllabuses are not intended to provide a complete curriculum or choice of repertoire to the exclusion of all other music.’ This is a very important point. If a student takes every grade and only learns exam pieces that totals only 24 pieces of music. In my books, that isn’t a full and rounded education. It is essential to work on technique and to learn repertoire in all styles enroute to the next exam.  AB books

There are also a number of vital skills that examinations do not test. One of the most important parts of being a musician is playing with other people. Keeping in time with others, playing in the same style as others, playing in tune with others, watching and obeying the conductor, being able to perform with confidence in front of an audience are all essential skills for a musician, and none of them are tested by examinations. images

It is easy to get bogged down with examinations. They are simply tests that give you a target to meet that will reassure you that you are moving forward. Do them when you feel the need. It doesn’t have to be every year and is it perfectly ok to miss out exams.

Consider also that grade examinations are now part of the National Qualifications Framework and are of equal merit to all other qualifications. The grades are seen as being broadly equivalent to GCSEs and A-levels. Grades 1, 2 and 3 equivalent to GCSE grades D to G, Grades 4 and 5 equivalent to GCSE grades A* to C, and Grades 6, 7 and 8 equivalent to A-level.

All this is very well, but why put yourselves through all this? As a student I don’t think I was ever really sure about why and the suggestion to do exams came from my teacher. Music exams were just done because that was the thing to do which isn’t necessarily the best reason. I was happy to get that piece of paper as proof of what I was capable of doing. I now think that the way to use exams is for feedback on playing pieces. imgresimages

One of my customers at Pianolobby was chatting about her piano skills and described herself as an ’80% pianist’ She explained that she would work on a piece until she was able to give a good approximation of it and then always running out of steam to really perfect it. She was upgrading her upright piano as a way to feel encouraged to play and then use the exam system to really polish up the last 20%. This seems very sensible to me.

From a parents point of view, it is an effective way of having evidence of progress. A parent of a child I teach admitted that he is much more committed to getting their children to practise when there is an exam to work for. That deadline has a way of really focusing the mind. As a teacher I then hope that those habits last when they are working on the repertoire pieces that follow on from exams.

They are useful for children too, if it is all explained properly. It can give them a sense of working toward something, getting that certificate to hang on the wall is fun, it’s often the exam pieces that are the ones that are learnt to performance standard giving a sense of pride when they know they can play pieces well.

I seem to have gone around in circles a bit. Exams can be useful, but they can’t address everything, things such as technique, a full repertoire, ensemble playing and so on, but that is the role of a good teacher. They are good for stimulating practice, perfecting pieces, useful markers of progress and learning to work towards a goal. Exams I think need to be seen as just one thing that is added into the mix of a musical life, musical education and musical experiences.

I hope this doesn’t put anyone off tackling exams, but perhaps to have more thought as to why you are sitting that exam.

Thank you for reading.


MONDAY POST. New ABRSM Piano Syllabus Launched

AB LogosHello everyone.

I hope you are all well and enjoying the summer.

You may be aware that the piano syllabus for the ABRSM practical exams get updated every 2 years. Thursday the 3rd July was the day chosen by the Board to launch the 2015 and 2016 piano syllabus.

There was a presentation given by a senior examiner, Timothy Barratt. He had the task of demonstrating and talking about every piece on the syllabus, all 158 of them. That was quite an undertaking for him and also for the audience! He was able to give a brief description of each piece, outline what examiners are looking for and one or two teaching tips on the way too.

As a piano teacher, musician as well as retailer, I couldn’t resist popping along to see what the new syllabus is all about. I have to say that the ABRSM should be pretty pleased with what they are offering. There is something for everyone! Their outlook is much wider too, embracing music from around the world.

AB booksThe syllabus has the all important standard repertoire pieces, such as a Clementi Arietta in grade 1 and a Bach invention at grade 4 and then builds on that by having a Lullaby by the Lithuanian composer, Neugasimov at grade 2. There are pieces from Norway, Spain as well as from China across all grades.

Dip in to the ‘alternative’ list as well, these are pieces that are published separately from the main books. There are some real gems in there many of which I prefer from the selections in the books.

We may well be on holiday from school from around now, but having these new pieces to get stuck into won’t make the new term so daunting.

Have a good week!





MONDAY POST. Hannah Sloane.

Monday PostThis week is the first of our guest writers. It’s the very talented cellist Hannah Sloane. She is a recent graduate from Juilliard School of Music who has settled in London and just starting out on her career. Over to Hannah…


HannahRecently I was asked, ‘so, what do you do?’ Its a simple question, yet, I find I can rarely give a simple answer. I usually respond with, ‘I’m a musician,’ which invariably gives way to the more clarified, ‘I play the cello,’ and then, ‘yes, I have been playing a long time,’ and, inevitably, ‘no, I don’t wish I’d take up the flute.‘ After these pleasantries are out of the way, I embark on a more or less detailed version of my activities as a freelance musician, at the end of which, if I’ve managed to convince my questioner of ‘what I do,’

I’ve entirely confused myself. I go over my answers:

I’m a cellist. That’s true! I started playing when I was 4 years old. I tolerated the practicing, but mostly enjoyed bowing at the end of a performance. I continued my studies at The Juilliard School in New York when I was 18 years old. Then, I was obsessed with practicing, but had lost the bow thrill somewhat. Now, I live in London and have struck happy medium, or so I like to tell myself. Sometimes I go back to the States to play recitals with my friends from Juilliard. I went to San Francisco in October to play Schubert and Strauss with pianist, Allegra Chapman, and will go to Massachusetts in July to play Janacek and Bartok with pianist, Jillian Zack.


I spend a lot of time playing chamber music. This June, I have a happy collision of 15 pieces of chamber music vying for rehearsal space in my diary. This is more than normal, but I’m not complaining! I’m particularly looking forward to; Beethoven eyeglasses duo at St Martin in the Fields as part of the London Chamber Collective; Mozart Divertimento at Leith Hill Place with the Perks Ensemble; Schubert Octet with Maiastra in Surrey; and every single one of the concerts at the marvelous Lewes Chamber Music Festival, run by its founder and artistic director, Beatrice Philips.

I travel quite a bit, mostly around the UK. I’ve redefined what I consider traveling since leaving New York, where everything in Manhattan is 15 minutes away. This year, I found it was easier to get to Aldeburgh than it was to get to zone 3 in north west London. The most memorable journey I’ve made was to play a concert in Maidenhead which took no less than 5 hours roundtrip. Having said that, I do find the vast sprawling mass of London exciting to explore. My housemate and I drove to a warehouse in Bethnal Green to play a concert in the autumn, only to bump into a film crew who redirected us to a midwork building site to find parking.


I play in orchestras. London is so vibrant when it comes to this. I’ve played a few times with the London Chamber Orchestra. Playing Beethoven 8 for the first time with them was an unforgettable experience. At Easter, I went to Snape Maltings to play with the Britten Pears Orchestra, on a Mozart cleanse. We played almost everything that Mozart wrote in the year 1789. The Multistory orchestra, run by Chris Stark and Kate Whitely, creates truly unusual and wonderful projects, which I’ve enjoyed being a part of. In a week’s time, the orchestra will be playing Britten, Adams, Mozart and Sibelius for 1000 school children in 10 different schools in Southwark. (I can’t join them this summer, but they also play terrific concerts in July in a car park in Peckham.)

I teach. I have a few private students, as well as teaching at Alleyn’s School in Dulwich. It’s so much fun. I haven’t told them this, but I think I learn more from my students than they do from me. Around Christmas time, I helped two adult students prepare for a duet concert that they had coming up. Their passion and dedication to music was so inspiring.

! By the time I’ve recapped these statements, I’m feeling like I’ve given a pretty good answer. I’m on the cusp of asking, ‘what do you do?’ when my questioner usually cuts in with, ‘so, what next?’ Phrases like; ‘No idea,’ ‘We’ll see,’ ‘Maybe I’ll become an astronaut,’ all cross my mind. I usually opt for the truth, ‘I can’t quite remember, I don’t have my diary on me.’


If you wish to contact Hannah regarding bookings for playing or teaching, she can be contacted by sending an email to: hmsloane@gmail.com





MONDAY POST. Piano delivery gone wrong?

Monday Post

Hello everyone. This week is a news article.

I saw this article on various news outlets and thought I would share it with you.

We are very relieved that it wasn’t one of our deliveries that went wrong. Accidents can happen, but this one is quite impressive.

On the banks of the East River in Manhattan, the tide washed in a grand piano. It sits half-submerged at high tide and mostly exposed at low tide.

It is not actually clear how it got there. New York is awash with theories of how it got there. Perhaps it was thrown off a boat or maybe it is an anonymous art installation. Either way it is a pretty sorry looking instrument.

piano washed up in Manhatton

What is known is that it has been under the Manhattan side of the Brooklyn Bridge for several days. Initially, it was further out from shore.

It has proved to be a fantastic opportunity for a selfie. New Yorkers and tourists have been flocking to the piano for the chance to get pictures with the mystery piano. Social media was flooded with pictures and videos of the latest tourist attraction.

The piano inevitably doesn’t actually play but that hasn’t stopped people from pretending to play.

Who does it belong to? And who has the responsibility for taking it out of the river? Nobody it seems is taking responsibility. The NYPD, suggests that the Department of Sanitation should deal with it, but there are reports which suggest that the Department of Environmental Protection should clear this poor piano away, but it appears that they are saying  the Parks Department are responsible. This could take a while to sort out.

The piano is a Mason & Hamlin piano.  Mason & Hamlin was founded in Boston, Massachusetts in 1854 by Henry Mason and Emmons Hamlin building reed organs. They began manufacturing pianos in 1883, initially just uprights containing new patented innovations relation to a tuning method. Other innovations followed relating to their construction. They were highly regarded pianos by pianists and composers such as Rachmaninoff and Ravel. The 20th century has seen ownership pass into several hands and production has also moved from place to place. Today Mason & Hamlin pianos have settled in Haverhill, Massachusetts.

Next Monday is the first blog written by one of our guest writers. It is the young cellist, Hannah Sloane, I’m sure you will enjoy it. Have a good week.


MONDAY POST. Music Benefits Our Health

Monday PostMy life has been spent with one musical activity or another and has a great deal of meaning for me. As I am now entering my middle years the actual value of music to my own well being has become more apparent to me. This came into sharper focus after I hadn’t played the piano or listened to music for many months.

It was on returning to practice for an event that the sheer joy of playing was almost overwhelming. It occurred to me that music making and listening really must have health benefits both mentally and physically. I have been reading many articles about this topic and here are some of the things I have come across.

I must stress that I do not have any qualifications or any expertise on these issues, merely a hunch…

Music is intrinsic to all cultures and can have surprising benefits not only for learning language, improving memory and focusing attention, but also for physical coordination and development.

Healing Properties in Music

Music has positive effects on pain management. It has been shown reduce both the sensation and distress of both chronic pain and postoperative pain for a wide range of conditions. This includes arthritis, a reduced need for medication during childbirth and can help depression.

The theory is that music forms a distraction, gives patients a sense of control, causes the body to release endorphins and relaxes the person by calming the heartbeat.

Other Benefits.

It seems as though you can lower blood pressure by playing recordings of relaxing music each day. With regular listening it may help in keeping it low.

It’s good for your heart too. Research shows that it is musical tempo, rather than style affects the heart rate. Participants in a study listened to six styles of music. As they listened, breathing, heart rates and blood pressure were monitered. Participants had faster heart and breathing rates when listening to lively music, which slowed when the music did. The style of music did not matter, it was the pace that had the effect.

 Listening to your favourite music can help in the recovery of a stroke. It seems that listening for a couple of hours each day, verbal memory and attention span improved significantly.

Immune system.

Music can boost the immune function. Scientists explain that music can create a positive and profound emotional experience, which leads to secretion of immune-boosting hormones.

Enhanced Intelligence.

Research does confirm that listening to music and especially playing an instrument can actually make you better at learning by enhancing some kinds of higher brain function. It helps reading and literacy, mathematical abilities and emotional intelligence.

It was thought that classical music enhances performance on cognitive tests. However, it has been shown that listening to any music that is personally enjoyable has the positive effects.

Better Memory.     

Music, with a 60 beats per minute beat pattern, activates the left and right brain. This maximizes learning and retention of information. The information being studied activates the left brain while the music activates the right brain. Activities engaging both sides of the brain at the same time, such as playing an instrument, causes the brain to be more capable of processing information.

Musical training has even better effect than just listening to music. There is clear evidence, that children who take music lessons develop a better memory compared with children who have no musical training. It can also improve the duration and intensity of concentration in everyone.

Improves Coordination.

Music reduces muscle tension and improves body movement and coordination. Music may play an important role in developing, maintaining and restoring physical functioning in the rehabilitation of persons with movement disorders.

More Productive at work.

You can perform better at your work with music. Whilst there may be many reasons for wishing to listen to music in the workplace, it really improves your productivity. It has been shown that recognition of visual images is faster.

Help with Sleep.

Researchers have shown that just 45 minutes of relaxing music before bedtime can make for a restful night and it’s free!

Relaxing music reduces nervous system activity, decreases anxiety, blood pressure, heart rate and may have positive effects on sleep via muscle relaxation and distraction from thoughts.

Reduces Stress.

Countless studies have shown that music’s relaxing effects can be seen on anyone. The great thing about this is that it can be done while you go about your normal day.

I hope you have enjoyed reading the above. It is clearly not exhaustive or detailed but a little taster of some of the benefit of music. Keep playing and listening!


Barber Name PlateThere is no doubting that the Barber22 is our finest instrument to date. It is our largest piano, the beautifully elegant casework has great presence which would enhance any living space.

It is a terrifically versatile instrument aimed at the serious performer, but is equally suitable for the more modest pianist to play. The tone is rich and expansive having exceptional clarity, superb sustain and an impressive dynamic range. The carefully weighted keys provide excellent responsiveness and touch.

Barber22Barber22It has many high specification features such as the slow shutting fall over the keys, high quality strings and a sophisticated action which is very capable of meeting the demands of the most complex music. This wonderful piano is a delight to play and listen to. Feels perfect to the touch, has a beautiful rounded tone as well as those good looks!

Its dimensions are: Height 122cm. Width 152cm. Depth 60.5cm. Weight 212kg.

If you would like more information feel free to call 020 3645 3930. We are very happy to be of help. If you prefer email our address is julian@pianolobby.co.ukBarber LOGO

Is it better to rent or buy your musical instrument? (The pros & cons of piano rental)

Monday Post

Musical instruments are expensive. This is a simple fact and the reasons are fairly straight forward. Pianos for example are the most complicated and have 1000s of moving parts which have to work perfectly. Woodwind and brass instruments are much less complicated but all have complexities in their mechanics. String instruments look simpler, but a good instrument does require great craftsmanship.

Many top professional string players have ‘their’ instruments on extended loan as these violins and cellos can be worth from many hundreds of thousands  to millions of pounds.

Top of the line woodwind and brass instruments are much less demanding of the bank account and therefore musicians would only use their own instruments.

Pianists mostly use the instruments already at a venue. Even fairly modest grand pianos are expensive and all of them require experts to move them from place to place.

Piano rental

For professional musicians then, it can depend on your instrument whether it is bought or on loan, but all will have bought as good an instrument as they can afford. For pupils just starting out, it can be a little more complex.

It has been said that the best instruments should go to children, beginners and those learning their craft. A professional musician can make anything sound good, but for the beginner to be able to make amazing music on a quality instrument will do more for their motivation and enthusiasm which in turn will inspire them to continue. However, the reality of the situation doesn’t often allow for this. Having an instrument which sounds excellent will also better help develop their ear. A pupil will have a better chance of developing a good technique too if the instrument he or she uses works properly. A student doesn’t suddenly wake up one day with a fully developed ear and wonderful technique.

Renting an instrument from a local can provide a cost effective way of getting decent instruments for aspiring young  pianists, violinists et al. It is a great way of getting started and see if the pupil takes to their chosen instrument or not. As I have outlined above, a better sounding instrument that works properly is a big help in encouraging pupils to make constant progress and develop those essential basic skills. Rental can be a good starting point waiting until the pupil gets advanced enough to have ownership of a better instrument.


Piano rental






If it is a simple choice of owning a poor quality instrument or one at the end of its life compared to a decent rental instrument, rental is the route to take. A poorly functioning instrument only stores up problems and difficult to break bad habits as the pupil tries to accommodate the quirks of that instrument.

At Pianolobby we do have a pool of rental pianos (all out on rent as I write this) and from time to time we offer a rent to buy scheme. Our main policy is to offer more piano for less money.

From my own piano teaching experience I have found that when the student owns their instrument they will take much more care of it. That sense of ownership, conscious or unconscious does translate into their playing.

I personally feel that a student should own the instrument they learn and play with. They must feel that sense of ownership in the music they are playing,  the instrument they play and in their musical education. As they grow in learning and experience, they can also grow into the instrument they own and into the instrument they will eventually own by upgrading, but always, they should own their instrument.

Owning the best quality instrument you can afford is an investment in the future of that budding artist! It is the responsibility of a good retailer to help music students realise their dream. It is a responsibility we take seriously at Pianolobby.

Thank you for reading.

I hope you have a good week.