ABRSM Workshop Day

Are you taking a piano exam, preparing students for one or just looking for tips on learning new, graded repertoire? Do you have questions regarding repertoire or other requirements for the new ABRSM syllabus? Join us for a comprehensive online workshop day featuring all aspects of the new ABRSM 2021 – 2022 piano examination syllabus. This event serves as a follow-on to our previous workshop series, covering new repertoire and related topics in further detail with an opportunity for participants to ask questions and submit requests for repertoire to be featured. Workshop schedule & content The day will be divided up into five sessions featuring the following topics: Repertoire – Two sessions with detailed demonstrations on how to learn a piece, develop an interpretation and practice tips for pieces across all grades Scales & arpeggios – Overcoming technical problems, practice methods and imaginative ways for integrating them into daily practice and lessons Sight-reading & aural tests – Practical ideas for improving sight-reading and developing the ear using repertoire Preparation and performance – Strategies for exam preparation, fostering a positive mental attitude and tips for what to do on the day Participants will have the opportunity to submit questions and requests for repertoire to be featured in advance of the event. There will also be numerous opportunities for questions through-out the various sessions. (Please click here to view the complete schedule.) What’s included? In addition to participating in the event, tickets include the following: Session recordings – The individual sessions will be recorded therefore you will be able to watch the videos in your own time if you are unable to attend any of the sessions. Worksheets – A selection of worksheets will be provided for […]

By |November 25th, 2020|Events|0 Comments

Working With Peter Feuchtwanger

Graham Fitch and former student, Daniel Grimwood both had the privilege of working with Peter Feuchtwanger at various stages of their careers. In this video conversation, they discuss and share anecdotes from their experience in working with Peter. The Exercises of Peter Feuchtwanger We’ve recently published a new video module on the Online Academy in which Graham and Daniel give their take on Peter Feuchtwanger’s unique exercises designed to encourage healthy, natural and relaxed movements at the piano. The module is available is available for once-off purchase here or can be viewed here with an Online Academy subscription. Further links & resources Foundations of Good Technique – Video lecture series on how to teach good pianistic habits and ease of movements from the start, and tackle problems in piano playing caused by lack of flexibility. Click here to view. Developing A Balanced Technique – In this video lecture series, Ilga Pitkevica shares insights into approaches and strategies for achieving “pianistic fitness” based on her experience of the traditions of the Russian School of piano playing. Click here to view. Elementary Technique (Introduction and Basics) – The first module in the Online Academy’s technique library exploring the basics of piano technique, covering seating position, posture, whole-arm and legato touches. Click here to view or click here for more information on other modules. Fundamentals of Scales & Arpeggios – The next module in in the Online Academy’s technique library which follows on from the introduction and basics. Click here to view. A Practical Guide to Forearm Rotation – A step-by-step approach to incorporating forearm rotation in your playing to feel strong, coordinated and tension-free. Click here to view. Mastering Piano Technique – Part 2 of Graham Fitch’s Practising the Piano eBook series provides an overview of different schools and traditions through to an extensive […]

By |November 24th, 2020|Technique|0 Comments

Free Highlights and a New Feature!

Our library of content on the Online Academy has grown substantially since we first launched. We have just developed a new feature called “collections” to provide another method of finding and accessing content. Collections are selections of content from the Online Academy library which offer a guided pathway through content or a “play list” based on themes or topics. These may be topics not covered directly within the main browse categories or might span multiple categories e.g. resources at the intermediate level on practising and technique, repertoire collections, recommendations for “returning” pianists and so on. How it works Previously, the Online Academy was navigated by browsing, searching or a full content index. Collections offer an additional way to browse customised groupings from start to finish rather than having to browse / search for individual items. Within a collection you will be able to browse backwards and forwards from start to finish. Breadcrumbs and additional menus will enable you to jump between items. If you’re signed in then you will also be able to jump to your last viewed page from your “Recently viewed” links. You can also add pages that were particularly interesting to your bookmarks. Free Highlights The Online academy recently turned four and therefore we decided to make first collection a set of highlights featuring some of the most popular recent items and a perennial favourites. As part of our birthday celebrations, these resources will be available to view free without a subscription on the Online Academy until Tuesday 24th November 2020. The highlights collection includes: Two of our most popular videos by Graham Fitch on practising which introduce highly effective practice tools A selection of technique resources on general principles, position, scales, […]

By |November 3rd, 2020|General, News|0 Comments

It’s All in the Wrist

Our blog for this week features a guest post by renowned pedagogue, author and pianist William Westney. William is also our most recent addition to the Online Academy with his first contribution being a video lecture on re-thinking warming up. In this post, he shares a few thoughts arising from one of these videos. *** *** *** It’s a genuine honour and a thrill for me to join the stellar lineup of pianist and teachers here at the Online Academy. I had no trouble deciding on which topic might be first; the process of warming up body and mind together to create the conditions for a great practice – and how easily this can be done – has long been one of my favorite offerings to students. There’s one moment in video #1 that I’d like to comment on. While showing how beneficial it feels to us (as athletes) to stretch the joints well beyond the range of motion needed to play piano pieces, I refer to my wrists. At that point in the stretch they are sunk quite far down below the keyboard level (that’s the lovely therapeutic experience I like to call “wallowing”). I cheerfully interject, “Don’t worry – I would never play any actual piece of music from such a low position!” But I did wonder, while filming it, if some viewers might be appalled at what I was doing wrist-wise. Isn’t that position just plain wrong? Moments like this are so important, in a larger sense. We can hear about technique from experts – concepts that are true and good; but there’s a danger of our taking them too categorically, too much like holy writ, and this worries me a lot. […]

By |October 29th, 2020|Practising|0 Comments

Warm-Ups Revisited

We’re delighted to welcome internationally noted pedagogue, performer and author William Westney to the Practising the Piano Online Academy.  William will be posting videos on many practical topics, expanding the content of his bestselling book The Perfect Wrong Note: Learning to Trust Your Musical Self. William’s videos will cover well-being at the piano, problem-solving, technique, and the power of enjoyment. Common themes in his work are how to adopt the right mindset for effective practising and how practising that “feels great” sounds great.  In his first videos, William explores the subject of warming-up. Most pianists are aware that, like athletes, it is essential to warm-up before practising demanding music. By doing so, we avoid tension and injury, awakening and stretching our bodies to do their best and to feel good during practice. But what about warming up the mind to practise? Warm-ups are not just about doing scales and arpeggios. Successful practise requires the right mindset – alert, free of distractions and ready to focus. In this two-part video lecture, William re-thinks warming up as an integrated process for both body and mind. He provides an effortless approach – a relaxed, focused and therapeutic process that only takes a few minutes and has lasting benefits for healthy, productive practising. Starting with an introduction to the body-mind warm-up, the first video explains the underlying ideas and why this “re-thinking” of warming-up is needed. The second video demonstrates the approach and applies it to a specific piece of repertoire. Together they provide a simple and effective process that prepares body and mind for a highly rewarding practice session – focused in mind and comfortable in body. *** Warm-Ups Revisited is available for once-off purchase here or with an Online Academy […]

By |October 27th, 2020|News, Practising|0 Comments

Get Feedback on Your Playing!

Although playing the piano at home by yourself is rewarding in itself, it can be difficult to remain motivated and inspired. Obtaining feedback on your playing and sharing it with others are great ways to maintain your enthusiasm and avoid getting stuck in a rut. Unfortunately, current circumstances have limited opportunities for lessons and performing for many of us. Therefore we’ve developed a new online performance workshop format to provide opportunities to obtain direct feedback on your playing and personalised tuition with Graham Fitch. These workshops are an online take on the traditional masterclass, but they differ in they are tailored to provide each performer with the feedback and input that best matches their needs, regardless of their level of playing. Performers are welcome to bring new pieces that they need help with, and pieces do not necessarily have to be performance-ready. The emphasis of this session is as much on finding solutions to problems as it is to refining and polishing a performance. The first of these sessions took place on Saturday 17th October and featured six performances. The following video excerpt shows Graham working with a participant, giving an example of the type of approach and feedback on offer during these sessions (you can read Ryan’s write-up on participating in the event here). How it works Each performer gets a slot to perform and obtain feedback (slots are usually 20 minutes long depending on the session type) Performers may choose to perform live or share a recording of a performance After the performance or recording, Graham will then work with the performer directly Depending on the performer’s needs, Graham offers feedback on style, interpretation, technique, practice method, or works with them to find solutions […]

By |October 24th, 2020|News, Performing|0 Comments

Developing a Balanced Technique

Mastering core piano techniques is essential in order to have the freedom to successfully express musical ideas at the keyboard. Like a ballet dancer is required to do physical training to achieve perfection on the stage, pianists too must train their bodies to enjoy playing with ease. In her new video lecture series, Ilga Pitkevica shares approaches and strategies for development of a balanced, holistic technique based on her personal experience of the traditions of the Russian School of piano playing. The following is an excerpt from the introductory video examining the importance of technical development: The introduction is followed by videos focussing on the main areas of technique: Scale patterns or “finger technique” Broken chords and arpeggios   Chords Thirds Octaves Each of these videos starts with suggestions for how to develop a specific area of technique from the early levels. There are numerous tips for developing speed, fingering suggestions and many solutions to common problems at various stages of development. The videos will be useful to pianists wanting to improve their technique to enhance their enjoyment in playing. Teachers will also find the videos invaluable for helping their students build a good technical foundation. Two further videos providing tips on how to use the popular exercises in Hanon’s Virtuouso Pianist effectively to develop specific areas of technique will be added to the series shortly. *** Developing a Balanced Technique is available for once-off purchase here or with an Online Academy subscription. Please click here to find out more about subscription options, or click here to view the series index if you are already a subscriber. Be sure to sign-up to our newsletter for further updates and subscribe to our YouTube channel for previews and video excerpts! Further links & resources Foundations of Good Technique – […]

By |October 15th, 2020|Technique|0 Comments

Pieces to Play – Birthday Offers

The next instalment in our “Pieces to play” series features a selection of popular works at a more advanced level for which we have published annotated study editions and other resources. JS Bach – Prelude and Fugue No. 2 in C Minor from WTC Book I The prelude for the work is built on a continually repeated pattern of broken chords with sharp, often dissonant accents on main beats and constant movement in-between them. This makes the score conducive to simplification using blocking to discover the underlying harmonic progression. Click here to find out more about simplification methods or click here to hear a recording of this work on Spotify. Fugues are one of the most complicated musical structures and as a result, many pianists shy away from them. However, there are ways to approach learning a Fugue that make the challenge less daunting. One of these is to use the “practice stepladder” which is based on learning voices separately (or in various combinations) rather than hands. Click here to find out more about the practice stepladder. Click here to purchase our study edition for this work. Beethoven – Sonata in C# Minor (Moonlight), First Movement Beethoven’s Sonata in C# Minor (Sonata quasi una fantasia), Op. 27 No. 2, is surely one of the most famous pieces of music of all time. Completed in 1801, it was dedicated to his student, Countess Giulietta Guicciardi. The title “Moonlight” was given not by Beethoven, but by poet Ludwig Rellstab; even though Rellstab dreamed this up five years after Beethoven’s death, his nickname stuck. One of the particular challenges of the piece is voicing. In this video, Graham Fitch demonstrates exercises to help projecting the melody in the right-hand […]

New Study Edition – Chopin’s Fantasie Impromptu

We’re pleased to announce the publishing of a new annotated study edition featuring one of the most iconic works by Chopin, the Fantasie-Impromptu (Op. Posth. 66). New edition features This new edition is an extension to our original series of six videos providing a walk-through of the work and it’s various technical challenges. In addition to these original videos, the edition features: Urtext and annotated versions of the score with 34 detailed annotations covering everything from interpretation, hand distribution, technical exercises, ornaments, practice tips, fingering and pedalling Three practice worksheets which offer a step-by-step approach to tackling specific challenges within the work, including the polyrhythms Fifteen demonstration videos linking to annotations and worksheets via QR codes (if using a print copy) or clickable links (if viewing digitally) The following is an example of one of the annotations illustrating how to approach the right hand patterns in bar 12 using forearm rotations and inward / outward movements when playing on the black or white keys: How to access it? If you have an annual subscription to the Online Academy then this new study edition and the accompanying multimedia content is included within your subscription. Click here to download the edition from your library or click here to view the online content. The edition can also be purchased as a stand-alone product from our store. Click here to purchase for £13.99. Other study editions Brahms Intermezzo in A Major (Op. 118 No. 2) Brahms Intermezzo in A Minor (Op. 76 No. 7) Debussy The Girl with the Flaxen Hair Chopin Nocturne in C# Minor (Op. Posth.) Schubert Impromptu No. 2 in E-Flat Major (Op. 899) JS Bach Prelude and Fugue No. 2 in C Minor (Book 1) […]

The Online Academy Turns Four!

It’s the Online Academy’s birthday today and a lot has happened since we first launched four years ago! Initially the site contained a few collections of videos and articles based on my eBook series. It has since grown to house almost a thousand videos with contributions from several renowned pianists and pedagogues. The last year has been particularly busy with the launch of several new initiatives alongside an extensive production schedule. Our online events programme was launched and has proven to be very popular along with our regular “practice clinics”. We also piloted an email course on practising and were delighted to receive a glowing review from International Piano magazine. Our plans for the year ahead are packed with a busy publishing schedule and many new initiatives to make the site even better than before (click here to find out more about what’s in store!)

By |October 1st, 2020|General, News|8 Comments