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Your Piano Goals for 2021

With it being the start of a new year, many of us will be making all manner of virtuous resolutions. While we can’t offer any advice on resolutions for combatting excess padding brought on by festive indulgence, here are some ideas for pianistic goals for 2021 that we can help with! Expand your repertoire Learn new pieces more efficiently and effectively with our Practice Tools video lecture series, blog posts on the subject, repertoire library and study editions. Improve your technique Develop your technical skills to enable you to express your musical intentions with our technique “refresher” collection, our recently published module on balanced technique or our comprehensive online course on incorporating forearm rotation into your playing. Share your playing with others Getting feedback on your playing or just sharing your playing with others can be a wonderful goal to work towards while also being an excellent way to improve your playing. You might consider joining an online meet-up group, participating in an online workshop or even working towards an examination. Learn or develop new skills Learn something new e.g. how to improvise or develop skills like sight-reading in order to broaden your repertoire and open up new possibilities for music making with others. Share your Piano Goals and win! Start 2021 on a high note by sharing your #pianogoals2021 with us and stand a chance to win a year’s subscription to the Online Academy valued at £99.99! Whether it’s learning a piece, developing a specific aspect of technique, playing for others or learning something new, we’d love to hear what your ambitions for the year are! Click on one of the following links to share your goals with us: Facebook Twitter Instagram LinkedIn

By |January 7th, 2021|General|1 Comment

Highlights & Most Popular Content of 2020

We’re currently taking a break over the Festive Session and will resume further posts and updates in the New Year. In the meantime, we thought we’d leave you with some highlights and links to our most popular content from the last year. Highlights & silver linings Although 2020 has clearly not gone according to plan for most of us, we are very grateful that the year has still had a number of highlights, including: Launch of our online workshops and events programme which enabled us to meet and interact with pianists all over the world! These included a programme of Zoom workshops, monthly practice clinics and an online take on the traditional masterclass format. The Online Academy celebrated its fourth birthday We welcomed new authors to the Online Academy and published many new resources, including detailed study editions and over 100 videos! Most popular content The following were our most popular blog posts from the last year: Get It Right from the Start Pedalling the Moonlight Sonata A Fantasy Analysis of Brahms Op. 118 No. 2 How to Practise when Learning New Pieces Developing a Balanced Technique And these were the most popular Online Academy series: 25 Easy and Progressive Etudes (Burgmüller) Guide to the new ABRSM Syllabus Practice Tools Video Lecture Series Healthy Piano Playing Advanced Sight-Reading Curriculum We also launched a new “collections” feature to provide additional ways to find and access content from our library. Our YouTube channel has also grown significantly and these were some of the most popular videos: Grieg – Arietta from Lyric Pieces (Op. 12, No. 1) “Everything You Know Is Wrong” – A Take on The Exercises of Peter Feuchtwanger A Presentation on Brahms’ Intermezzo in A Major (Op. […]

By |December 29th, 2020|General|0 Comments

Happy Holidays!

This is my final blog post for 2020, so let me take this opportunity to wish you all a very happy and peaceful holiday season. It has been a year of tremendous growth for the Online Academy, with many new subscribers joining us from all over the globe and lots of new content from our team of contributors. Needless to say we have many exciting plans in place for the New Year! The global pandemic has been disastrous for live music and for the arts in general. And yet some silver linings have come out of it. The Online Academy has been able to offer an extensive series of Zoom workshops and presentations on a variety of different topics, from practising to technique, to exam preparation, sight-reading and more. My own Facebook Live practice clinics, which I give monthly, have become a regular fixture, offering subscribers the opportunity to send in questions and problems they are having from specific pieces. We are planning a new series of Zoom workshops for the 2021, so make sure you are subscribed to our mailing list for more information (details of the next fixtures are available here). Let me leave you with a piece I always associate with the holiday season, and New Year’s Eve – Schulz-Evler’s transcription of Johann Strauss II’s Blue Danube Waltz – ‘Concert Arabesques on The Beautiful Blue Danube‘, in this scintillating performance by Mikhail Pletnev. I’ll now be taking a break for the festive season, so see you in the New Year. Happy holidays, everyone! *** Looking for a gift for a pianist?   Our range of eBooks, digital editions, online lessons and subscriptions make ideal Christmas presents for piano lovers!  A selection of our digital products […]

The New ABRSM Syllabus – Initial Grade

The final instalment in my exploration of the pieces from the new ABRSM piano syllabus is now available on the Online Academy. This features video walk-throughs for each of the main pieces for the Initial Grade, an important exam on the path to Grade 1 (where a large number of technical and musical skills are already a requirement for success). In each of the videos, I stress the importance of developing a strong technical foundation that needs to get laid down right from the word go, at the most elementary level of piano instruction. These videos demonstrate the movements involved in the Initial grade, some of the pitfalls to avoid, and how to stimulate the imagination so that we might play with a sense of narrative. There are plenty of tips that will be helpful to the teacher and player. The following video provides a brief preview of the type of content featured in these walk-throughs (click here for links to previews for other grades): How to access? Please click here to view the full videos for the Initial Grade or click here for an index of other grades if you are an Online Academy subscriber (further information about the Online Academy is available here). The complete set of video-walkthroughs for all ABRSM grades can also be purchased separately along with recordings from our recent workshop day on the syllabus. Please click here for more information or if you have already purchased a ticket then you can access the videos by signing in to your account. What’s next? With the addition of the Initial Grade, I have now covered repertoire from all of the grades (over seventy pieces!) in the new syllabus. These will now be followed by: General […]

Happy Birthday Herr Beethoven!

Although there’s no authentic record of Beethoven’s day of birth, the registry of his baptism on 17th December 1770 has survived. Since it was custom to baptise within 24 hours of birth, the consensus is that his birthday was the 16th of December. To celebrate Beethoven’s 250th birthday tomorrow, we’ve created an instalment in our #piecestoplay series featuring a selection of piano works at various levels and our resources for them. Ecossaise in E-Flat (No. 4 from Six Ecossaises, WoO 83) A lively dance in 2/4 time, an ecossaise is actually the French word for “Scottish”! This piece is currently set as Grade 3 in the 2021 & 2022 ABRSM piano examination syllabus. Click here to view a video-walkthrough for this work. Sonatina in G (Anh. 5 No. 1) Although there are some questions as to whether this work is correctly attributed to Beethoven, it offers an excellent opportunity to assimilate essential elements of the Classical style: articulation, balance, ornamentation, and clear phrasing. Click here to view our From the Ground Up edition which provides a step-by-step approach to learning or teaching this piece. Für Elise (Bagatelle No. 25 in A Minor) This evergreen miniature of Beethoven scarcely needs any introduction at all and many pianists attempt it before they are ready for it. This video from our Q-Spot series shows how to use quarantining and other practice tools to tackle two challenging spots within the work. Bagatelle in E-Flat (No.1 from Seven Bagatelles, Op. 33) Beethoven wrote short pieces (which he called “trifles”) throughout his creative life, which he published in three collections. This piece is the first from the earliest set, Op. 33 and is set as Grade 7 in the 2021 & 2022 piano examination […]

Technical Fundamentals Collection

The Online Academy’s content library continues to grow with almost 100 videos added in the last few months alone! We’ve also recently added a new “collections” feature to provide another way of navigating and finding content. These collections provide guided pathways through selections of content based subjects and themes not directly covered with existing browse and search features. The first collection featured highlights from the main content categories within the Online Academy. We have now added another collection offering a selection of resources on technical fundamentals. This selection is aimed at pianists at an elementary level and their teachers. It will also be useful to returning pianists as a technical “refresher” or “health check”, or indeed any pianist looking for tips to improve their technique. Collection contents The collection covers the following topics with a combination of articles, video lectures and demonstrations: A brief treatise on the history of technique and some perspectives on the subject from Graham Fitch A tried-and-tested warm-up sequence from healthy playing expert, Penelope Roskell Tips on developing good pianistic habits from the start from Ilga Pitkevica, including posture, positioning of hands and fundamental movements And finally some suggestions on finger exercises and ideas for using the ubiquitous excercises of Hanon effectively from Graham How to access it? The technique collection can be viewed here, or from the collections listing here. Scrolling to the bottom of the page, “START” button and then navigate backwards and forwards. You can also jump A few of the resources within this collection are freely available to view, whereas most require an Online Academy subscription or can be purchased individually (please see further links below). Other technique resources The full listing of resources in the Online […]

By |December 10th, 2020|Technique|0 Comments

The New ABRSM Syllabus Workshop & Grade 1

The next instalment in my exploration of the new ABRSM piano syllabus features video walk-throughs of all of the main pieces from the Grade 1 syllabus. The following video provides a brief preview of the type of content featured in these walk-throughs: With this new instalment, the Online Academy’s resources for the new ABRSM syllabus now features over seventy video walk-throughs for grades 1 – 8 (with a set of videos for the Initial grade to follow very soon!). The videos offer guidance and demonstrations for players and for teachers on style and interpretation, technique, practice method, fingering, pedalling and more (click here for links to previews for other grades). Please click here to view the index of available walk-throughs if you are an Online Academy subscriber or click here if you’d like to to subscribe. Full Day ABRSM Workshop Sunday, December 6th (9:00 – 5:00 GMT) We’re delighted to be bringing you a new interactive online workshop this coming Sunday on all aspects of exam preparation from Grade 1 though to Grade 8. The first session explores ways to keep scale and arpeggio practice creative and vibrant, offering technical suggestions as well as practice ideas. We move to a session on the aural and sight-reading tests, looking at ways to improve our results and incorporate these into lessons and the routine practice. After a coffee break we move on to the repertoire. In two 90-minute sessions (the first featuring Grades 1-5, the second Grades 6-8) we will look at how to begin a new piece step by step, with plenty of advice on effective practice, problem solving, interpretation and creating teaching. The last session of the day covers strategies for exam preparation, including practising a performance, the psychology of […]

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

“Everything You Know Is Wrong!”

When I first witnessed international piano guru, Peter Feuchtwanger, demonstrate his exercises in a class I was so shocked by them that I had to leave the room for a short while. They struck me as diametrically opposed to everything I had come to understand about playing the piano, but as I later came to realise, this was exactly the point. The traditional exercises pianists practise aim to solve specific technical issues using muscular or athletic approaches, whereas Peter’s exercises are effectively anti-exercises. Putting the playing into neutral, they rely on flat fingers, hanging hand positions and a completely loose, passive arm that generates most of the motions involved in putting the keys down.  It took a leap of faith to embrace these exercises and, while I did not need to throw out the technical approach I had received from my main teachers, I found I was able to incorporate Peter’s ideas into my playing and into my teaching. They certainly made a significant difference. Having spent some time working on the exercises under Peter’s supervision, I began to feel a significant difference in the amount of effort I needed to use at the piano. Often, I just needed to do much less to get the same, or a better result.  Because I find these exercises very useful in my own playing and my teaching, I decided to include a feature giving my take on them in the Online Academy. To get the best out of the exercises, you would really need to study them with someone who has received them from the source, but I offer them here as a tribute to my work with Peter and to satisfy the curiosity of the many […]

By |November 19th, 2020|Technique|0 Comments