Practising the Piano eBooks

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Practising the Piano Part 3 – Scales and Arpeggios

It seems to me that a thorough knowledge of scales and arpeggios is an absolute necessity for all serious students of the piano. Western music is built on the major/minor tonal system, and to attempt to study the piano without scales (or basic theory) would be as nonsensical as learning language without the alphabet or without bothering with grammar. You would get so far, then reach a dead end. Scale work is an ongoing process from the relative beginning stages of piano study through to conservatory level and beyond. The professional pianist will have mastered all major and minor scales in single as well as double notes, plus an array of different types of arpeggios, in all inversions. The result will be an intimate kinesthetic knowledge of the keyboard (how a particular scale feels under the hand) and of all tonalities and key relationships, acquired and honed over the course of time. Whether we continue to practise scales in later life depends on the individual – the great virtuoso Shura Cherkassky apparently played scales and arpeggios in every key every day! Many of the world’s greatest pianists and teachers wouldn’t think of beginning their daily practice without a thorough regimen of scales and arpeggios (possibly along with other exercises and studies), and they expect their students to do the same. Practising the Piano Part 3 It can be difficult to summon up the necessary enthusiasm to practise scales unless they are presented in ways that are fun, rewarding and challenging. I think there needs to be additional resources available to encourage the student to practise scales in a disciplined and orderly fashion, and a system of logging the work from day to day. Self-testing is also an important […]

By |March 21st, 2014|eBooks|0 Comments

My New eBook on Scales and Arpeggios

I’m delighted to announce the launch of Part 3 of my eBook series, Practising the Piano. Part 3 is a single, bumper volume on scales and arpeggios starting with a guide to the basic skills required followed by chapters for the elementary, intermediate and advanced levels. As with my other eBooks, Part 3 features numerous video demonstrations, exercises written out in manuscript and practice suggestions.  It also features a number of resources and interactive tools to keep you motivated and to make your practising more effective: Scales index This section provides an index of all major, harmonic and melodic minor scales with key signatures, fingerings and variations for practice.  There is also a keyboard diagram of each scale so the beginner will be able to see the note patterns at a glance. Scales and arpeggios charts Download printable practice charts for ABRSM Grades 1 through to 8 featuring a grid layout with the keys listed vertically and the types of scales horizontally.  Teachers can use these to assign scales for practising in between lessons, and for students to keep a record of what they have practised. Scales and arpeggios generator Don’t you wish there was a way to test yourself on the scales and arpeggios for your grade?  Part 3 includes a scale generator that randomly selects these from the ABRSM syllabus for you.  It will keep you on your toes by requesting additional ways of doing them (different touches and speeds, and so on) and gives you an optional self-scoring mechanism for charting your progress. There are so many different and creative ways to practise your scales (have you ever tried the “Russian” way?).  Practising the Piano Part 3 shows you exactly how to practise […]

By |March 18th, 2014|eBooks|5 Comments

Practising the Piano Part 1 eBooks available on Amazon

I am pleased to announce that all three volumes of Part 1 of my Practising the Piano eBook series are now available on the Amazon Kindle store via the following links: Volume I Volume II Volume III   Please note that while the full content of each publication is included within the Kindle versions, due to the limitations of the platform, the multimedia content is not accessible offline.  Furthermore, while the text content and images are accessible on eInk devices (e.g. Kindle eReaders), a device with media playback capabilities (e.g. Smartphone, Tablet or Computer) is required for video and audio. As with the iBooks versions of the publications, existing customers who have purchased directly from my publisher will also get access to the Amazon Kindle editions of the publications they own via their library.  However, those of you who have existing Amazon accounts now have the option to purchase via Amazon should you prefer to do so.

By |February 18th, 2014|eBooks, News|8 Comments

Complete Practising the Piano series now available for iBooks

As many of you who have purchased my eBooks are probably aware, my publisher has been busy producing versions of my publications for Apple iBooks.  This is intended to offer existing customers another option for accessing the publications on Apple devices in addition to making the publications available for purchase via the Apple iBookstore. I’m now pleased to announce that all six volumes of Part I and Part II are now available in this format.  Please click here for more information on how to access them or click here to log-in to your library (note that you may need to refresh your library page in order to see the new download option). The first volume of Part 1 is now also available for purchase via the iBookstore here.  Subsequent volumes will be made available in the iBookstore in due course subject to Apple’s review process.  Versions for Amazon Kindle are also in the pipeline although these will not support some of the interactive publication features or offline video due to the limitations of the Amazon platform.   Please note that purchasing direct from my publisher will give you access to all of the available formats for each publication you purchase (in addition to the iBooks versions mentioned above).  However, those of you who have existing Apple iTunes accounts may prefer purchasing via this route (or via Amazon in future).  

By |February 5th, 2014|eBooks, News|0 Comments

My new eBook on Technique

When I started work on Part 2 of Practising the Piano, I had only a rough outline of the content I wanted to cover. I soon found that the project was expanding in all sorts of directions. It has been an exciting journey putting it all into writing, and one that I am happy to share with you. While writing articles on technique for Pianist Magazine over the years, I learnt how to put my ideas into words succinctly, but there is still the strong possibility that someone might misconstrue the written word. Fortunately, the technology behind the eBooks enables me to include video demonstration of anything I have just described in words. Because the reader can watch the video over and over, there is a greater chance they will understand what I mean. This is why I included over 100 videos in Part 2, the camera perched as close as possible to the keyboard – warts and all! A colleague once said to me that he did not teach technique; each student must work it out for themselves in their practice room. I couldn’t agree with him less. There are so many detours and dead ends a piano student can take when left to their own devices in this way. They can get seriously side-tracked, the worst-case scenario being debilitating injury. Why have them reinvent the wheel? Why not pass down methodology that is proven to work? Piano playing is a highly sophisticated activity and, while some people do seem born to it, for most of us success is achieved through sheer hard work – blood, sweat and tears. It is true that there is no such thing as one-size-fits-all when it comes to […]

By |November 15th, 2013|eBooks, News|1 Comment

Practising the Piano Part 2 Now Available

I am delighted to announce the release today of Part 2 of my Practising the Piano eBook series, available via Part 1 (published in March) dealt with practice methodology (techniques of learning) and getting the most out of our practice time. I think of this as a foundation course. Part 2 covers the complex area of piano technique providing a comprehensive treatise on the subject. We all know that technique is essential for realising our musical intentions at the piano. Every dynamic and every nuance must be produced by a technical means, a physical means.  Part 2 is comprised of three volumes featuring: 100+ video demonstrations Almost 1,000 bars of musical excerpts and exercises Numerous diagrams and illustrations Interactive “sliders” Extensive links to supplementary resources I started playing at the late age of 13 and was fortunate to have excellent teachers from the very best of the European and Russian traditions. I absorbed everything they did with me on a conscious level. I think this is why I have such a thorough understanding of piano technique and can help students overcome technical problems, even those who are not natural pianists. In Practising the Piano I present the best of what I can offer, and while I realise that no publication can ever hope to replace a live teacher, the combination of text, musical examples and video demonstrations enable me to show you quite clearly what needs to be done to manage technical difficulties at the piano while avoiding common pitfalls that lead to tension and injury. Please click here for more information, free previews or to purchase Practicing the Piano Part 2. Special offer Buy Part 2 of Practising The Piano (three volumes) for 25% off the full individual prices.    

By |November 12th, 2013|eBooks, News|2 Comments

The Practice Tools – Volume 3

I would like to thank you for your support with my ebook series – I am very pleased with the uptake and have had lots of great feedback. It is good to know that the publication is assisting you in your practice! The beta launch period is now over, we have done some minor edits and updates to the publications, and all existing customers will be upgraded automatically to the new versions. The full version of Part 1 is now available at £9.99 for all three volumes. Volume 3 will be available for £2.99 until May 31 as a special offer to existing customers. Please note that you do not need a PayPal account to purchase the publications, simply click on “buy as guest” to use your debit or credit card to make a purchase via the secure gateway. For further information on how the publications work and what devices are supported, please see the FAQ on the Informance website.

Practising The Piano eBook Series – A New Venture

I am delighted to be able to bring you news of a venture I’m launching this week, a series of interactive ebooks in several volumes based on Practising The Piano. It’s not simply a rehash of my blog – the material has been rewritten in more detail, with additional features such as video demonstrations, audio clips, numerous score excerpts, charts to print off and other interactive features. Right now, you can get beta versions of Volumes 1 and 2 of Part 1 (Practice Tools) at a discounted introductory price, with more volumes to come throughout the year. We have designed this with the iPad in mind, but you will be able to read it equally well on a computer. When I started this blog back in 2011, I knew nothing about blogging. I just knew I wanted to write something about a subject I was passionate about that seemed sorely neglected both online and in print media – namely, the art of practising. It has always struck me how few piano teachers, even very famous ones, talk about this subject and yet the importance of what we do in our practice room between lessons (if we’re learning) or between concerts (if we’ve arrived!) cannot be overestimated. Our progress as pianists is determined not only by the amount of practice time we put in, but by the quality of what we do. We might spend hours at the piano, but if we don’t know exactly what we’re doing, 90% of it can be wasted in futile drilling, or mindless hit-and-miss repetition. Instead of improving, we might actually be ingraining bad habits by constantly repeating them. I keep coming back to the analogy with the Olympic athlete, […]

By |January 25th, 2013|eBooks, News|8 Comments