News

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 […]

Online Events & Workshops

April saw the launch of our first online events and workshops. We have been delighted by their reception and thrilled to welcome participants from almost all corners of the globe! The following are the initial events that took place in April and early May: Practice Tools Online Workshop – Based on Graham Fitch’s email course on practising strategies and tools, this online workshop provided a more in-depth look at specific practice tools with a detailed demonstration of how to apply them. Forearm Rotation Online Workshop – An online course based on our newly published guide to forearm rotation featuring a further, practical demonstration of the underlying concept and associated movements with opportunities for questions and answers. Practice Clinic – A live “practice clinic” open to everyone in which Graham Fitch will respond to practising-related queries submitted by our Online Academy subscribers in advance (click here to view a recording of the most recent event). Technique Showcase – A free demonstration of content from our newly published technique resources covering basic fundamentals, using forearm rotation and scales (click here to view recording of the most recent event). The feedback from these events has been overwhelmingly positive. Many participants specifically commented on how useful the sessions have been both in their own right and as a complement to our online content. The opportunities for questions and answers were also very popular! Upcoming events As a result of the interest and based on the feedback received, we will be offering an ongoing programme of online events and workshops. This will feature repeats of some of the initial sessions in addition to some new events. The following is a listing of the next events we have lined up: Brahms’ Intermezzo in A […]

By |May 19th, 2020|News|0 Comments

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

Happy Holidays

This is my final post for 2019 – 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, and we have some exciting plans in place for the New Year (about which more later!). As a thank you for your support over the past year, I’m delighted to offer a free gift of two study editions for Burgmüller’s Op. 100 set that we’ve been featuring throughout the year. The study editions include a teaching note, practice and performance suggestions (with exercises in manuscript) as well as a link to a video walkthrough. All you need to do to receive your free gift editions of L’arabesque and Ballade is sign-up for our mailing list here and they will be sent to you next week. Let me leave you with Frederic Chiu’s transcription of Prokoviev’s Troika from the Lieutenant Kijé Suite. A troika is a traditional Russian three-horse sled that takes us on an exhilarating ride through the snow, accompanied by the sounds of sleigh bells.  Looking for a gift for a pianist?   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 Christmas 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 […]

By |December 12th, 2019|General, News|2 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