Advanced Sight-Reading Curriculum Launched!

This week’s guest blog post announces the launch of a unique new online sight-reading curriculum for advanced pianists by Ken Johansen, associate professor at the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University and Online Academy contributor. *** *** *** Introducing the Advanced Sight-Reading Curriculum It gives me great pleasure to introduce the Advanced Sight-Reading Curriculum to readers of this blog. This is the curriculum that I use in my class for piano majors at the Peabody Conservatory. It has been nearly twenty years in the making, and I believe that there is at present nothing else quite like it, in print or online. Virtually all piano teachers agree that sight-reading is an extremely important skill, perhaps even the most important. At the same time, it is a difficult skill to teach. It requires a vast quantity of carefully-chosen music, and the gradual, but concurrent, development of multiple aural, analytical, technical, and cognitive abilities. In this curriculum, we work on each of these component abilities – twenty of them altogether – individually, tackling the complex multi-tasking activity of sight-reading from twenty different angles, as it were. Improvement in sight-reading comes not simply from playing lots of pieces, but from acquiring new habits, and learning to think in new ways. Each of these new habits of mind needs first to be isolated, worked on with deliberate attention, and repeated in enough musical examples to become second nature. Whether we are learning how to read ahead, mastering dotted rhythms, or practicing the simplification of complex textures, we first need ways to think about these things, then lots of musical excerpts to practice them on, without too many other difficulties to distract or confuse us. Each of the twenty […]

By |January 23rd, 2020|News, Practising|0 Comments

An Essential Guide to Healthy Piano Playing

Piano playing is a deeply satisfying artistic activity, but it can also be very demanding physically on our arms and hands. Just as elite athletes understand and care for their bodies, so should pianists think carefully about their approach to playing and practising. A healthy piano technique not only avoids injury – it also helps to achieve greater freedom of expression, a more beautiful sound and quicker progress. With the number of piano-related injuries on the rise and as a response to this growing problem, we have worked with leading expert in pianist injuries, Penelope Roskell to publish a new guide to preventing and recovering from injury for pianists and teachers. Combined with Penelope’s existing resources on Yoga, warm-ups and posture, the guide offers detailed information on each of the most common playing-related injuries with numerous video demonstrations of practical remedial exercises to aid recovery and prevent relapse. The information contained within this guide is based on Penelope’s many years of experience in working with pianists with injuries. Although it will be useful to any pianist, it is especially beneficial for those experiencing fatigue, tension or pain and piano teachers who want to know more about helping their students keep healthy. The guide covers the following topics: Healthy playing – Develop a healthy technique (and wise practise) methods for greater freedom of expression, improved sound quality and quicker progress General advice on healthy and wise practising Whole-body approach and sitting posture Warm-up sequence Preventing and recovering from injury – Learn how to look after your arms and hands to avoid problems in future and general advice on recovering from injury Common pianist injuries How to identify common injuries like RSI, carpal tunnel syndrome and tenosynovitis […]

By |January 16th, 2020|News, Technique|0 Comments

New Year’s Piano Resolutions!

We’d like to wish all of our readers all of the best for the year ahead and thank you for your support in 2019. With 2020 now underway, there are a number of exciting developments in the pipeline for Practising the Piano which we’re very much looking forward to sharing with you! The following are some examples of what we have in store over the next few months: Technique library and resources – A comprehensive library of resources focussing on improving technique and tackling technical challenges for all levels. This will include detailed demonstrations of various areas of technique, guides to exercises and studies with contributions from current and new authors. The Practice Tools – More content based on Graham Fitch’s workshops and eBook series, including a course teaching the fundamentals of effective practising and a revised index of practice tools for different levels. Walk throughs – Our repertoire library will continue to grow with works including Für Elise, Chopin’s mighty 1st Ballade and Brahms’s Intermezzo in A Major Op. 118 No. 2 coming shortly. We will also be celebrating Beethoven’s 250th birthday with the launch of a series dedicated to his Sonatas. Healthy playing – Our healthy piano playing module by Penelope Roskell will be extended to include information and numerous video demonstrations on preventing and recovering from common pianist injuries. Together with Penelope’s recently published Yoga for Musicians videos, this will serve as an invaluable resource for pianists and teachers alike. Sight reading – An exciting new sight-reading curriculum developed by Ken Johansen at the Peabody Institute, for the advanced level along with exercises along with sample exercises from ReadAhead Level 4. New features – A number of developments are planned for the […]

By |January 2nd, 2020|General|0 Comments

Highlights & Most Popular Content of 2019

We’re currently taking a break over the Festive Session and will resume further posts and updates in the New Year. In the meantime, the following are some of our highlights and most popular content over the last year. 2019 Highlights: Launch of the Piano Teachers’ Course Online and a section within the Online Academy focusing on teaching Completion of our series of video walkthroughs for all the etudes in Burgmüller’s 25 Easy and Progressive Studies, Op. 100 The Online Academy celebrated its third birthday Interactive Practice Tools workshop in London in partnership with Casio Music Most popular blog posts (new): The Fantasie-Impromptu Hands Separately Practice – Useful or Not? Precision Measurement in Jumps Why Perform? Resources for Pianists Schumann’s Romance in F-Sharp Most popular blog posts (previous): Enjoying Ultra-Slow Practice “But it Takes Me Ages to Learn a New Piece!” The 20-Minute Practice Session Rediscovering Bach’s Prelude in C Burgmüller’s 25 Easy and Progressive Studies Most popular Online Academy series 25 Easy and Progressive Etudes (Burgmüller) Von fremden Ländern und Menschen (Schumann) A Guide to the Trinity College Piano Syllabus Foundations of Good Technique The Practice Tools Lecture Series Most popular videos on our YouTube channel: Proksch – And Now Let’s Handel Bruch – Moderato from Sechs Klavierstücke (Op. 12, No. 4) Mendelssohn – No. 2 from Kinderstücke (Op. 72) Sonata No. 8 in C Minor (Pathétique) – 1st Mvt (Preview) Chopin – Fantaisie Impromptu – How to Manage the 4:3 Polyrhythm Graham was also delighted to participate in an interview with Dr. Josh Wright which turned out to be an incredibly popular video (click here to view)! We also launched new functionality which makes Online Academy lessons available for once-off purchase without a subscription […]

By |December 27th, 2019|General|0 Comments

Ideal Gifts for a Pianist!

Are you looking for a present for someone who plays the piano? We’ve just added a new feature to our site which makes it possible to purchase a range of digital products and subscriptions as gift vouchers. Our range of eBooks, digital editions, online lessons and subscriptions make ideal presents for piano lovers!   How it works Select a gift from our catalogue (a full listing of products and subscriptions available for gift purchase can be viewed here) and click “Buy gift” Enter the details of the payment card that you wish to use to make the purchase and click “Pay” On successful completion of your payment you will be taken to a confirmation page which provides a voucher code and a link which the recipient can use to redeem their gift (further instructions for the recipient are also provided) Featured gifts eBooks & bundles: Practising the Piano eBook series – Click here to purchase a gift voucher for all four parts of Graham Fitch’s highly popular multimedia eBook series for £39.99 Annotated Study Edition Bundle – Click here to purchase a gift voucher for a bundle of Graham Fitch’s annotated study editions featuring works by Schubert, Ravel, Bach, Chopin, Brahms and Debussy for £19.99 From the Ground Up – Ken Johansen’s From the Ground Up series uses outlines and reduced scores to help learn pieces more effectively. Click here to purchase a gift voucher for a bundle of From the Ground Up editions which includes works by Schumann, Bach, Beethoven, Grieg and Chopin for £19.99 Editions: Study Edition – Chopin Nocturne in C-sharp Minor – Click here to purchase a gift voucher for an Annotated Study Edition of Chopin’s Nocturne in C-sharp minor, (Op. […]

By |December 10th, 2019|General, News|0 Comments

More Content Giveaways!

As part of our celebrations for the Online Academy’s third birthday, we’re making a selection of popular content from across the site available free until the end of October 2019. This content includes articles, musical examples, video walk-throughs, demonstrations and lectures on topics including practising, technique, learning pieces, sight-reading, improvisation and teaching. We’ve recently added a number of additional resources to the original collection which are listed below. All of this content will only be available free for another week therefore please be sure to have a look to avoid missing out! New free content How and When to Use Slow Practice – Slow practice is a cornerstone of our work from the beginner stages right through to the advanced level. This video shows how to approach slow practice and to enjoy it fully! Quarantining – A video lecture showing how to use this practice tool to practise more effectively and to overcome challenging spots within pieces (this video also serves as an introduction to our Q-Spots series which demonstrates the concept in the context of selected works of varying levels). The Basics of Playing Arpeggios – An overview of the basics of playing arpeggios which aims to make them practising them effective, interesting and fun Mozart Fantasy in D Minor – This video provides a section by section walk through of Mozart’s Fantasy in D Minor K397 (sometimes referred to as Fantasia) Beethoven Sonatina in G (2nd mvt) – A step-by-step approach to learning this piece from our From the Ground Up series which uses outlines and reduced scores that help you to learn pieces more effectively Telemann Rigaudon – Video showing how to use simple five-finger patterns to develop the skills involved in […]

By |October 24th, 2019|News|0 Comments

Celebrating the Online Academy’s Third Birthday

Three years ago, the Online Academy was officially launched with the intention of creating the ultimate online resource for playing and teaching the piano. Our mission was to curate and aggregate some of the best information on the subject of piano playing and make it available to as wide an audience as possible in an inspiring, informative and non-dogmatic manner. From humble beginnings with a few articles and videos, the Online Academy has grown to feature over three hundred articles and five hundred videos on the subject of piano playing. Initially an extension of Graham’s popular blog on practising and eBook series, the Online Academy now includes extensive content from a number of leading experts on topics such as improvisation, sight reading, learning pieces, healthy piano playing and teaching. In reflecting on the last three years, we’ve compiled the following video which tells a bit more about Graham’s background as a pianist and teacher, the story behind the Online Academy and how it has evolved. Where to from here? We have a number of exciting developments in store which will be building on the foundations we’ve developed so far: New content and resources – Extensions to existing resources e.g. Burgmuller’s 25 Easy and Progressive Etudes and Quarantine Spots, a comprehensive library on piano technique, numerous additions to our collection of walk-throughs on works within the repertoire and more resources on teaching in partnership with the Piano Teachers’ Course UK. Features and enhancements – New features for personalising content, a question and answer function and further improvements to tools for finding and navigating content. Additional contributors – We are delighted to be welcoming a number of new contributors to the Online Academy over the coming months! […]

By |October 10th, 2019|News|2 Comments

Online Academy – What’s Coming?

The Online Academy will soon be three years old and we have a number of exciting developments in the pipeline to celebrate this milestone. Following from our previous post which provided an overview of existing resources and content, this article will give you an idea of what you can look forward to from the Online Academy over the coming months. New content The Practice Tools – A detailed collection of resources building on Graham Fitch’s workshops and eBook series will be published as a complement to existing resources. These will include a course teaching the fundamentals of effective practising and a revised index of practice tools. Quarantine Spots Series – We will be launching a focussed series which takes one of the practice tools, Quarantining, and expands on it with demonstrations of how it can be used in context of challenging examples from popular works within the repertoire. Technique Library and Resources – A comprehensive library of resources focusing on improving technique and tackling technical challenges for all levels. This will include detailed demonstrations of various areas of techniques, guides to exercises and studies with contributions from current and new authors. Walk throughs – Our library of resources for the piano repertoire will continue to grow and will feature words by Chopin, Brahms, Beethoven, Mozart and Bach to name a few. Resources for examination syllabi will also be added on a continual basis. Burgmüller’s 25 Easy and Progressive Etudes – The final four walk throughs are currently in production and will be added to complete this comprehensive series shortly. Healthy Playing – Our set of resources on healthy playing by Penelope Roskell will be extended to include information on preventing and recovering from common pianist […]

By |September 12th, 2019|News|0 Comments

A Guide to Our Content & Resources

Since its launch just under three years ago, the Online Academy has grown significantly and now contains over three hundred articles, hundreds of videos and thousands of musical examples on playing and teaching the piano from a range of highly respected experts. Whatever your goals and ambitions for your playing or teaching for the new term ahead might be, we have numerous resources to support you in achieving them! To help you find what the content that is most useful to you, we’ve compiled the following index of some of our popular resources (a full index of resources is also available here): Practise more effectively and learn new pieces faster The Practice Tools Lecture Series – An overview of practice tools and methodologies to help you get the most out of your practice time Slow Practice – How and when to use slow practice Skeleton Practice – Deconstructing a score in order to learn new pieces faster and more accurately   Improve your playing and technique – Click here to view a general listing of resources on piano technique or on one of the following specific topics: Scales and Arpeggios – resources on playing scales and arpeggios at the elementary and intermediate levels Fingering – Learn fundamental principles behind comfortable, musically appropriate fingering Pedalling – A comprehensive treatise on the subject of pedalling Double Notes – Detailed advice on how to practise scales, exercises and studies featuring this challenging area of technique Technical Exercises – An overview of exercises and regimes and suggestions for how to use Hanon’s exercises Sight Reading – Improve your sight reading with a range of sample works and exercises from ReadAhead Learn new pieces Click here to view our library […]

Introducing Our YouTube Video Channel

Over the past few months we’ve been making a number of our videos from the Online Academy available on our YouTube channel. This channel now features a growing collection of over forty full length videos, excerpts and previews. The following example is one of the most popular videos on the channel so far which uses Bruch’s Moderato from Sechs Klavierstücke (Op. 12, No. 4 – ABRSM Grade 6) to demonstrate an approach to mastering the challenges presented by jumps: Other videos provide walk throughs of works featured on exam syllabi e.g. No. 2 from Mendelssohn’s Kinderstücke (Op. 72) and Byrd’s Coranto. Pedalling is also a popular theme with examples including a demonstration of finger pedalling using Couperin’s Les Barricades Mystérieuses, an introduction to fractional pedalling and suggestions for how to pedal Chopin’s sombre Prélude in B minor. Please click here to view our channel and subscribe for updates regarding new videos. You may also be interested in subscribing to our email mailing list to receive updates regarding blog posts, new content and special offers.

By |August 22nd, 2019|General|0 Comments

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