practice tools

Top Tips for Starting a New Piece

Last week I launched a free email course on how to start learning a new piece and lay solid foundations from the outset (click here to find out more). The following is a summary of some of the tips and practice tools from my course which will help you get started on the right track: One (or two) read-throughs is enough to get the gist of the piece – aim for a rough sketch at this stage, leaving out surface detail you cannot manage. Taking the time to practise hands separately is incredibly valuable, not only in the note learning stage but regularly thereafter. Practising separately doesn’t only apply to hands alone, but also to strands. It can be useful to deconstruct a score and play voices separately and then together in different combinations. Working on a piece in small sections at the Speed of No Mistakes ensures accuracy from the start and helps you avoid embedding careless errors that may be hard to fix later. By identifying and marking tricky spots in a piece upfront, you can begin each practice session with a step-by-step sequence of activities designed to solve the problems. Dividing the piece into manageable, meaningful sections helps us structure our practice and ensure that all parts of the piece are equally solid and secure. If you would like a more detailed explanation of these tips and tools, plus examples and other resources then please do sign up for my email course! The course is entirely free, featuring seven video lessons ranging from three to twelve minutes in length. The videos are accompanied by downloads, notes and exercises to help you follow and implement each stage of the process.

How to Start Learning a New Piece

Sign-up for our free email course on how to lay good foundations from the outset when learning a new piece.

Tips & Tools for Learning New Pieces

When learning a new piece from scratch, there are a number of tools we can use to get the maximum benefit from our practice time and to lay the foundations for a secure and successful performance.

Applying the Practice Tools

If you would like to lay foundations for much more productive and effective practising in the year ahead, you might want to join my upcoming interactive practising workshop. The workshop takes place on Saturday, January 16th from 14:00 – 17:30 GMT and in it I will demonstrate some of the important practice tools and show you how to apply them to learning a new piece, as well as keeping old pieces in good shape. The material will be useful to players from lower intermediate up to advanced levels, and of special interest to piano teachers. Background to the Workshop In the summer of 2019, I was invited by Casio to present a day’s course on piano practice at a central London hotel. I felt we could add huge value to the event if everyone had their own piano to practise on during the frequent breakout sessions. Casio arranged for each participant to have a digital piano and headphones, enabling them to try out the ideas I had just demonstrated using worksheets provided without being overheard. This attracted visitors from all over the UK as well as Europe, and was a great success. we were considering doing this event again when COVID struck. My team and I realised we could adapt this workshop format and present it online and ran a pilot of the format in December last year. From the feedback received, this turned out to be one of our best received events. The format actually worked better online as it made the event more accessible. Having microphones muted during the break-out allowed participants to practise in the comfort of their homes. The only thing missing was the sumptuous lunch and delicious cakes during the […]

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 Practice Tools Workshop!

Due to the popularity of our online workshop on the Practice Tools, we are pleased to announce a new follow-on workshop. This second workshop builds on the concepts introduced in the first and introduces additional practice tools, including: How to deconstruct the score to learn pieces more efficiently Using transposition to solve technical problems Inventing exercises from within pieces Using shadow practice for tonal and motor control Deep learning with memory tools such as visualisation and mental practice for deep learning. As with all of our online workshops, the workshop will include opportunities for questions and answers, along with practice worksheets and resources. The session will also be recorded, and all participants will receive a link to download the video. We will also be running a repeat of the initial workshop (Part 1) if you missed one of the sessions in April / May and would like to attend (We recommend attending the first workshop before attending the second). Tickets can be purchased for each workshop individually for £25 or together for both workshops for £40 (please select “Combined Ticket” when purchasing your tickets). Online Academy subscribers get a further 40% off individual or combined tickets. Please use one of the following links to book your place: Part 1 (Saturday 6th June @ 15:00 BST) – Click here for more information or to book tickets. Part 2 (Saturday 13th June @ 15:00 BST) – Click here for more information or to book tickets. Frequently asked questions How do your online workshops work? We use Zoom, a widely used platform to deliver the workshops which is free for participants and easy to use and install. The workshops are presented over video using a combination of camera […]

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

A Free Online Course on Piano Practising!

With many of us confined to our homes due to current circumstances, it does potentially make for a great opportunity to make the most of the situation by practising the piano! However, the subject of how to practise effectively is rarely taught. Much practice is unfocused and unproductive (or worse, leads to bad habits that might be hard to break in future). To help you get the best results from your time spent practising, I’ve created a free two-week email course based on the videos from my Practice Tools video lecture series. Suitable for pianists of any level, it comprises ten lessons introducing various practice tools that will help you to: Structure your practice sessions and practise efficiently Learn new pieces faster and build more solid foundations Develop speed using a better approach then simply increasing the metronome with each repetition Improve the quality of your playing As one of our initiatives to provide useful and inspiring content during this time, we’re making this course available for free to anyone and no subscription to the Online Academy is required for participation. All you need to do in order to register is sign-up with your email address, and you will receive your first lesson on the 14th of April (or immediately upon sign-up thereafter). Please click here to sign-up and for further information and use the buttons below to share this course with anyone you think might be interested! It it my hope that this course will inspire you to practise well and give you the necessary motivation to keep this going until you have some momentum. Remember – it’s the quality of the practice that counts, not the quantity! (Tweet this quote) *** Further reading […]

Q-Spots Series: Bach Invention in D Minor

For my first piece in the Q-Spots Series I have chosen Bach’s Two-Part Invention in D minor, and identified two Q-spots that very often cause players to falter (click here for an introduction to the series). If you are a piano teacher you will immediately know that I am referring to the places where one hand has a long trill, and the other hand a passage of even semiquavers (16th notes): Bar 18 – Downbeat of 23 Bar 29 – Downbeat of bar 35 The idea behind Q-spots is to identify and isolate awkward places where we stumble and fumble, and go through a systematic sequence of practice activities that helps us break the section down into stages. We practise each stage until our inner quality control inspector is happy to sign it off, before moving on to the next stage. We repeat these stages for a few days in a row, by which time we should find the passage is not only possible but actually feels easy. Let’s look at the first Q-spot in the Bach Invention and analyse the nature of the difficulty. There are two main problems here – coordinating the two hands together at the required speed, and managing the trill without tightening up. Part of the solution is to play a rotary trill (from the forearm) rather than lifting the fingers from the main knuckle; for the trill to fit together with the left hand we will need to organise it rhythmically. Probably the neatest way of doing so is to play a measured trill in demisemiquavers (32nd notes), beginning on the upper auxiliary (D) and stopping on the main note on the last demisemiquaver before the tie. Before we […]