P Plate Piano Book 2: Composers

Today marks the first day P Plate Piano is available for sale in Australia, and I’ve been too sick to drag myself out of bed, let alone get into a shop to see how they might have this beautiful looking series displayed.  [If you want to see the cover design it’s currently up as the splash page for the still-under-construction website http://www.pplatepiano.com.au%5D But I think I might have enough energy (having been asleep most of the day, and having Tom at his grandparents’ place), to write up a quick piece about the composers who are included in P Plate Piano Book 2. Of course, I’ve used many of the composers whose work featured in P Plate Piano Book 1, so I won’t detail these composers, except to list them: Anita Milne (yes, my mum, who now has her pieces in 4 publications), Jane Sebba (pieces from her fabulous Piano Magic method books), Daniel Gottlob Türk (composer from the Classical period who

read more P Plate Piano Book 2: Composers

P Plate Piano: the composers in Book 1

The P Plate Piano series will be available for sale in Australia on November 4, so I think it’s time for me to talk about the composers whose material I’ve used to create this series. Book 1 starts at roughly the point that a traditional method Book 1 ends – students are expected to know the basic mechanics of playing notes on the keyboard, reading steps and skips (2nds and 3rds), staccato and legato, rests, basic dynamic markings, and to be comfortable playing black notes and reading flats and sharps when placed directly before a note, while all the time playing within a set five-finger position. There are precious few composers who choose to create works within these extremely restricted parameters, but I found that, about 200 years after piano lessons really started taking off in the middle class, there is now at least a body of work from which to select the very best at this early stage of study,

read more P Plate Piano: the composers in Book 1

How hard is a piece of music?

For piano teachers working in countries with a strong examination culture (this means anywhere that is, or once was, part of the former British Empire/current Commonwealth) there is a general consensus about how hard certain pieces of piano music are.  And this general consensus revolves around an idea of ‘grading’ – that a piece of music ‘is’ Grade One, or Grade Five, or Grade Eight. No one ever talks very much about what makes a piece have Grade One-like qualities rather than the qualities of a Grade Two piece.  But, within a teaching culture where the lesson is almost entirely focussed on the exam, teachers develop an acceptance of the gradings given to pieces by the examination boards they choose to use, and this becomes the basis for intuiting a degree of difficulty for new repertoire.  If the piece ‘feels’ like Grade Four, then Grade Four it must be. The challenge to grading new repertoire is most keenly felt when grading

read more How hard is a piece of music?