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

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

New ABRSM Workshop Series

It was a pleasure and a privilege to be part of the selection committee for the new ABRSM piano syllabus, 2021-2022. Following on from the publication of the graded material, the Online Academy has embarked on a project to create an extensive collection of resources for candidates, piano teachers or anyone using the syllabus as a guideline for their learning. As a complement to these materials, I will be running a series of online workshops which will provide a more interactive format than the existing resources, allowing for questions and answers. Each of the workshops in this five-part series will look at the following topics for one or more grades: Repertoire – Practice suggestions for learning selected pieces in addition to tips on technique, style and interpretation Scales & arpeggios – Overcoming technical problems, practice suggestions and tips General tips – How to prepare for an exam, practice strategies and dealing with performance nerves Sight-reading – How to include sight-reading in day-to-day practice and as part of the weekly lesson The following video provides a whistle-stop overview of the Grade 5 pieces and gives an illustration of what to expect for repertoire walk-throughs in both the sessions and the accompanying Online Academy resources: This workshop series will be useful not only for candidates and piano teachers following the syllabus, but also for those who want to learn some exciting new repertoire, make progress with scales and arpeggios, improve their sight-reading, and learn strategies for performance preparation and dealing with performance nerves. As with all of our workshops, the sessions will be recorded. Included in the ticket price is also the full set of Online Academy video walk-throughs available for the grades featured in each session. […]

By |October 20th, 2020|Events, News|0 Comments

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

What’s in Store for the Online Academy

The Online Academy will be turning four in October and we have many exciting developments lined up for the year ahead! Our content library will continue to grow in breadth and depth, and we will be adding several new features to help you get even more from the site. The following are some highlights of what you can expect over the coming months. New content and contributors New contributors – We will be welcoming several new authors, including two distinguished performers, a renowned pedagogue and author of a best-selling book! Their contributions will cover topics such as mindful practising, performance psychology, technique and repertoire. Technique – Our technique library project will see the addition of several new modules covering topics such as octave playing and guides to technical exercises and regimes. An extensive series on “Balanced Technique” based on the Russian School will be published shortly, followed by a guide to some unorthodox, but highly effective exercises! Practising & learning pieces – New modules and an index of practice tools are planned for our resources on effective practising. Step-by-step guides demonstrating how to apply the practice tools in the context of learning specific pieces of varying levels are also in development.   Repertoire – Numerous additions to our library of resources for the piano repertoire are in production featuring works by Chopin, Schumann, Brahms, Mozart and Bach to name a few. We’re also embarking upon a major project featuring Beethoven’s piano sonatas. Examination guides – Ongoing updates will be made to our recently launched series featuring walk-throughs of pieces from the new ABRSM syllabus. We will also be extending these resources to cover selections from other examination boards Study Editions – Several new study editions are in the pipeline featuring works by Mozart, Bach and Chopin, starting with […]

By |September 29th, 2020|General, News|0 Comments

Your Practising Questions Answered!

Do you have a question about practising? Or are you struggling with a particular part of a piece and are not sure how to go about practising it? Join us on our Facebook page at 12:00 BST on September 16th for our next practice clinic in which Graham Fitch answers practising-related questions submitted in advance by online academy subscribers (please see further details below on how to submit your questions). Frequently Asked Questions I’m a subscriber to the Online Academy, how do I submit a question? If you are a subscriber then you will receive an email with a link to a form which you can use to submit your question (please make sure that you are signed-up to receive emails from us!). You can also access this link on your dashboard by signing into your account (it’s listed under “Subscription benefits”). Please note that to allow sufficient time for preparation, submissions will be closed two weeks before each event. We are also unable to accept questions that aren’t submitted via this form. Unfortunately we can’t guarantee that we will respond to every question directly, but we will review all of the submissions and endeavour to cover as many as possible either in this event or in a subsequent one. I’m not a subscriber, can I still participate? Although question submission is only available to our Online Academy subscribers, you are most welcome to attend the session on Facebook Live or to watch after the event on Facebook or our YouTube channel. If you are not an Online Academy subscriber and would like to find out more then please click here. I’m not on Facebook, how do I view the session? That’s no problem at all! […]

By |August 27th, 2020|News|0 Comments

New Online Workshops

Our online workshops and events programme for the next few months features a combination of repeats of popular events and new sessions based on requests and feedback from our participants to date. We’re also delighted to welcome two new presenters, Ken Johansen and Penelope Roskell to our programme! The following are some of the events that we have lined up for the summer: Practice Tools (Part 1 & Part 2) – A repeat of Graham Fitch’s Practice Tools workshops which give detailed demonstrations of how to apply various tools to make your practising more effective. Click here for more information or to book your place. Memorisation – By popular request, this new workshop follows-on from the Practice Tools workshops and focuses on methods and techniques for deep learning and memorisation. Click here for more information or to book your place. Developing Sight-reading Skills (Part 1 & Part 2) – A workshop in two parts by Ken Johansen based on his advanced sight-reading curriculum, providing an interactive demonstration of essential sight-reading skills, including eye training and flexibility. Click here for more information or to book your place. Healthy Technique & Injury “Clinic” – Penelope Roskell will be presenting her approach to healthy piano technique, followed by a pianist injury “clinic” in which she will answer questions on preventing and recovering from injury. Click here for more information or to book your place. Piano Technique Workshop – A repeat of Graham Fitch’s workshop on various aspects of piano technique covering topics such as technical fundamentals, scales and arpeggios, building speed and an introduction to the concept of forearm rotation. In addition to these online workshops, we regularly broadcast various free live events from our Facebook page. Videos from past […]

By |June 25th, 2020|News|0 Comments

New Study Editions for Burgmüller’s Op. 100

As readers of my blog will know, I am not a great believer in too much separation of the study of technique from real music. Therefore, when I recommend studies and exercises they have to be really good – either easy to memorise and very much to the point (if an exercise) or on the short side and with enough musical interest to capture the imagination (if a study).   Burgmüller’s 25 Easy and Progressive Études (Op. 100) have been a mainstay of elementary étude repertoire for many generations – and deservedly so. Like all great études, the study of technique merges with attention to quality of sound and a musical purpose. The musical content of these pieces is on a level with the technical challenges they pose, so that the listener would not necessary realise they have any didactic focus whatsoever. Because each has its own descriptive title, the études inspire imagination and characterisation in the player, elevating the works to the status of real music (as opposed to the dry and boring studies that are so often the diet of pianists). I cannot imagine any young pianist or elementary player who would not immediately engage with this charming set of pieces, or benefit from learning them. Following on from my series of video walk-throughs for the full set of twenty-five études, I’ve been working on creating accompanying study editions to assist you in learning these works. These editions focus not only on the technical considerations but also on the compositional techniques used by the composer – including an appreciation of harmony. Each edition has a number of footnotes that are designed to assist you as you practise. There are also QR codes that can be […]