NEW PIANO BOOKS

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,

Julian

 

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.

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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: julian@pianolobby.co.uk

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:  julian@pianolobby.co.uk

 

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: julian@pianolobby.co.uk

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.

 

PIANO PRACTICE

 

canstockphoto1693447We have all used the phrase practice makes perfect. We also know that we need to put in time in order to make progress. As a teacher I have been increasingly encouraging my younger pupils to think how they practice and to maximise the time they have available for their practice. In recent years I have noticed that children have many more demands on their time as they sign up for many activities. Learning a musical instrument, especially the piano, is a very time consuming business. It is hugely rewarding and advantageous in all sorts of ways but it is very demanding of time.

March 15 080I have heard the advice ‘practice this passage 5 times before moving on’ which on the surface sounds reasonable. The goal of course is not to simply to plough through 5 times and it will be magically better. There is a kind of reassurance to know that a certain number of repetitions has gone into something, so therefore that must be a good thing. The assumption is that this will solidify skills and be a route to good discipline. Yes, repetition is necessary to develop and refine skill in many disciplines, but the key has to be the quality of the practice.

There has been quite a lot of research at different universities across the world looking into practice methods and the most profitable way to practice.

So, what is practice? In crude terms, it is getting the right notes with the correct rhythm of the piece one is learning. The next level is to figure out how to play expressively, in character with a good tone. ScriabinEtudeOp8No12First_BIG

What are the conclusions of all the research? You may need to be sat down for this. I was very surprised at first but having experimented with it in my own piano practice, it really does make sense.

  1. Practicing for longer doesn’t necessarily lead to better playing.
  2. More repetitions also doesn’t make that much difference.
  3. Playing something correctly many times doesn’t necessarily help either.

I can almost hear some of my piano students jumping off piano stools as I write this….canstockphoto16808693

The thing that matters the most is how many times something is played incorrectly. Or rather, the percentage of times correct over incorrect matters the most. The greater the percentage of correct playing in a practice session the greater the reliability in the playing.

Research identified a few strategies which will help focus practice.

  1. Errors need to be addressed immediately that they appear.
  2. Errors need to be pre-empted by stopping in anticipation of mistakes.
  3. The location and reason for the error needs to be identified, rehearsed and corrected.
  4. Practice hands together as soon as possible.
  5. Practice with inflection, observe expression marks.
  6. Be thoughtful, sing phrases and make notes on the page
  7. Have logical tempo changes. Play slowly at difficult to play sections and slowly build up tempo.
  8. Target sections that are difficult to play.

canstockphoto22321319Top pianists like everyone else make mistakes, but they manage to correct their errors in such a way that helped them avoid repeating the same mistakes. Usual methods include playing hands separately and playing short excerpts, however the most effective strategy is strategically slowing down. When making a mistake, stop, play the passage again but slow down without stopping just before the place where the mistake was made. This allows playing of the challenging section more accurately, helps coordination at a much more manageable tempo rather than crashing through and failing to notice the underlying problem.

Learning a musical instrument can be frustrating and making mistakes are normal and part of the process. Using time more effectively, figuring out where mistakes occur, avoid repeating them and therefore emphasisng the problem can help find success more easily.

Happy practicing.

Fantastic Yamaha U1 Upright Piano

If it wasn’t for the serial number I would have put the age of this piano as decades younger than it actually is. This piano believe or not was manufactured in 1969! It is in wonderful condition and feels and sounds terrific. March 15 051

This could be described as a typical Yamaha in that, it is a beautiful piano which feels great to play through its smooth action producing a lovely clear tone which isn’t too bright.March 15 053

We are offering this piano for sale at £2695 which includes free local delivery to a ground floor room, free stool, free first tuning and a 5 year warranty.

March 15 048If 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: julian@pianolobby.co.uk

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.

Beautiful New Reid-Sohn Piano

March 15 080We are delighted to be able to offer this Reid-Sohn RS112 for sale. This is a winner of the prestigious Music Industry Association award for two consecutive years and it is a piano that can be found in schools, colleges as well as homes throughout the country. March 15 074March 15 083

 

 

It is a superb piano at an attractive price. The finest quality spruce and air-dried maple are combined with tempered, nickel-plated pins, German hammer felt and laminated German pin blocks. These create fine pianos long appreciated by discerning and exacting pianists. All Reid-Sohn pianos incorporate the latest developments in piano technology with the careful guidance of Klaus Fenner, co-developer of the imperial German scale. March 15 078

The casework is a beautiful piece of furniture with its detailing of box lining around the top and bottom panels. We love the look of this piano, but what is it like as a musical instrument? Super! It feels great to play and has a clear warm tone.

March 15 076Its dimensions are: height-112cm. length-148cm. depth-56cm. weight-207kg

We are offering this piano for sale at £2700 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: julian@pianolobby.co.uk

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.

 

 

Is it essential for amateur pianists perform in public?

imagesI have a number of adult pupils and recently acquired another pupil who is an adult learner. She did learn for a while as a child and on and off has played and had occasional piano lessons throughout adulthood. Her children are now older and embarking on their own lives and now seems to be a good time to have regular piano lessons.

At our first lesson we discussed what sort of music she likes to play and listen to and what she is aiming to do with the piano. I also made suggestions as to how to develop her playing, etc etc, all usual things in a first lesson.

Then something I hadn’t expected happened. I suggested that if she wished she could come along and play in one of my adult pupils concerts. My group of adult pupils enjoy getting together to play to each other and having a chat afterwards about their piano playing over a glass or two of wine. When this was put to my new pupil, her immediate reaction was ‘why on earth would I do that?’ canstockphoto4121695

At first I was a little taken aback. However on reflection, it is a really good point. Why on earth would we put ourselves through all that stress as well as all that hard work in preparing for that event? Oh and there is no financial reward at the end either, just a glass of wine!

There are many reasons to learn to play an instrument such as the piano, there is a great deal of scientific research to show that it is good for a person’s health and overall wellbeing at any age.

  1. Playing the piano can increase cognitive development. Playing piano stimulates the brain in ways that almost every other activity cannot.
  2. Eye-hand coordination is developed while playing. Reading music trains the eyes and hands to work closely together.
  3. Fine motor skills are also developed. Nimble hands move efficiently only because of consistent practice. The practice is the training that produces the agility needed to play demanding piano pieces.
  4. Playing piano requires dedication. To become an accomplished pianist daily practice will be needed and this learned discipline can then be applied to many other areas of life.
  5. Music itself can reduce anxiety and stress. Sitting down to play a piano can help the mind refocus and relieve stress.
  6. It has been shown that playing piano can improve mental health of an individual. Pianists may see a reduction in depression and other mental health issues.

I cannot think of any bad side effects from playing the piano, there are only benefits which are good for the body and mind. Piano playing encourages discipline and creativity and all this in an activity that can be done by anyone with a desire to learn.

That is all well and good but only emphasises why it is good to learn to play piano and is not an explanation as to why we should perform in front of all those people. canstockphoto7379222

imagesThere is a deep down instinctive need to see music performed live and I really believe that is the same when it comes down to performing. There is something elusive and special about being in the presence of a group of people making music live. Music can express so much more than mere words and it is with this that I think lies an answer. It is simply about a very human need to communicate. There is a lot of evidence. Have a look at the streetpiano project. There are over 1000 pianos in 45 countries with a simple instruction on them saying ‘play me I’m yours.’ They are in all sorts of unlikely places, parks, bus and train stations etc available for anyone to play. It has been a great success. If you look at the website streetpiano.com you will see photographs of groups of people gathered round having fun both as performers and listeners. images

Playing piano in front of others isn’t for everyone and each person needs to feel that it is right for them. The satisfaction of making music and transporting oneself to a magical place in the privacy of your own home is plenty. For those who are brave enough to have a go at playing piano in a public performance there awaits a great sense of achievement after the performance boosting self confidence.

Brand New Bentley

2013-03-01 23.21.28Here’s your chance to own a Bentley. This beautiful piano as the title suggests is a brand new instrument and is a delight to play and hear. It has a lovely tone and medium/light keys.

It is a piano that is very suitable for all pianists from beginners to the advanced players.

We are supplying this piano with a 5 year warranty, free adjustable stool, free first tuning and free local, ground floor delivery. 2013-03-01 23.20.30

Our Bentley you see pictured measures 155cm tall, 149cm in length and 60cm deep.

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If you would like more information about this and our other pianos please call Julian on 020 3645 3930 or write to julian@pianolobby.co.uk

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.