Online Academy

The Online Academy Turns Five!

The Practising the Piano Online Academy turns five in October 2021! Thanks to the support of our readers and subscribers, the site has grown significantly over the last five years. Our content library now features over 1000 videos and we’ve developed several value-added offerings, including our highly popular online events programme and practice clinics. During the course of the month, we will be celebrating by publishing various content updates and making a selection of popular videos from our premium content library freely available. Click here to sign-up to our mailing list for updates on new and free content! Recent Highlights The following are some of the highlights from new content published over the last year: Practising – New videos featuring practice tips from William Westney, an email course on how to start learning and practising a new piece and the next part in our Advanced Sight-Reading Curriculum.  Technique – Several modules on how to use exercises by Hanon, Czerny and Berens, in addition to more resources on mastering scales & arpeggios.  Learning Pieces – Our repertoire library grew significantly with video walk-throughs of over 100 pieces from all levels. We also kicked-off a new series called Beethoven on Board which will ultimately feature detailed videos on each of Beethoven’s 32 sonatas! Performing & Exam Preparation – Our project for the 2021 & 2022 ABRSM piano syllabus was completed and now includes videos for pieces from all grades and several supplementary videos with tips on preparing for other aspects of an exam. Online Workshops & Practice Clinics Our online workshops programme has featured over fifty events and has proven to be very popular. These events provide a live, interactive way to learn about various topics with opportunities for questions and answers. The […]

By |September 30th, 2021|Events, News|1 Comment

Back to School Resources & News

It’s back to school for many of us and this week we bring you some useful resources for the year ahead and a preview of what we have in store.

By |September 2nd, 2021|General|0 Comments

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

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

A Lesson in Sight-Reading from Julia Child

This weeks’ guest blog post introduces the newly published second part of our advanced sight-reading curriculum by Ken Johansen, associate professor at the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University and Online Academy contributor. *** *** *** The first requirement of sight-reading is that we keep going and not stop to correct mistakes. This is fundamentally different from practising, where we stop to root out mistakes as soon as they occur. This requirement obliges us, first of all, to choose our sight-reading repertoire carefully, so that we are able to keep going without making too much of a hash of things. Secondly, it means that when mistakes do occur, as they inevitably will, we must be able to sail through them without fear or regret. What Julia Child said about cooking applies equally to sight-reading: “The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking you’ve got to have a what-the-hell attitude.” A “what-the-hell attitude” in sight-reading doesn’t imply that we don’t care about what we’re doing, but that we give priority to our musical experience – our first encounter with an unknown piece of music – rather than to monitoring our success or failure in reading the score accurately. After all, in cooking it is our enjoyment of the food we’ve created, and what we’ve learned from making it, that matters most, not whether or not we’ve followed the recipe in all its details. Such an attitude requires flexibility, not only in the spirit with which we confront challenges, but in the musicianship with which we adapt to them. Just as experienced cooks know how to adapt when the soufflé has collapsed or the roast is undercooked, so experienced sight-readers find ways to […]

Thoughts on Piano Technique

After some initial trepidation regarding how to approach extending our resources on the complex subject of piano technique on the Online Academy, I am happy to say that we have just published the first module in a new collection, with others to follow in due course. Because there can be no such thing as a one-size-fits-all approach to teaching technique, as it grows, our technique library will also contain content from other leading experts offering different angles on the subject. As such it will be a research-based, organic and consistently growing resource representing diverse viewpoints. I have several worthy books on piano technique on my shelves, some are clearer and more usable than others. However, as soon as an author starts writing about hand positions, arm movements, giving detailed instructions about what the fingers are supposed to be doing in a given situation, etc., they immediately run the risk of being misunderstood. Very often the excessive verbiage involved is hard to fully understand, even by the most educated of readers, and any images included can only tell part of the story.   In the modern age, many of these problems can be resolved by video demonstrations. Building text-light modules around a number of videos has been my default choice of format this new material. Some videos are longer with more description; others are very short indeed – with few words, if any, and filmed close up. The beauty of the short videos is they can easily be watched repeatedly, when you might want to check and recheck how a particular movement looks. My aim is to identify and use the best format to communicate the subject matter at hand.   My attitude to technique is based […]

By |February 20th, 2020|Technique|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

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