Tuesday, 14 January 2014

On line piano tuition for Grade 1 and above

Well tomorrow I take my first official piano lesson with the aim
of doing grade 1 by June. I have been practicing on and off
for about 18 months now and I can't say it has been smooth sailing
to say the least. Inded I felt in a bit of a rut as I was playing
the Grade 1 pieces badly and never really completing them.

However over Christmas I found these amazing
on line videos by Alison Sparrow who has some really useful tips


Plus being very attractive to look at. Could be the Nigella
Lawson of piano and violin teaching.

Anyway her tip on practicing really helped me get to grips with
three of the Grade 1 pieces. When you try and set up a practice
session the temptation is to try to and play the piece as
a whole with the inevitable stumbling. Alison's method for which
I cannot thank her enough is to break it down.

At grade 1 the pieces are usually 16 bars what Alison suggests
is play the first 4 bar phrase 4 times. Then play the second
4 bar phrase 4 times then play the first and second phrases
together 4 times. Then move onto the third phrase play that
4 times, then the 4th phrase 4 times. Then put the 3rd and fourth
phrases together 4 times. Then finally play the piece 4 times
repeat this for about 2 weeks and you should have the piece
under your belt. Anyway it certainly seems to have helped me.

This is so obvious when pointed out to you but not at all obvious
when you are practicing on your own.

Another good website I have found is that of Shawn Cheeks
especially his 'boot camp' sight reading course. Shawn points
out that most musicians rely on their ear and memory. What
this misses is actually engaging with the music as it is written
as his career progressed he found it more and more difficult to
tackle the more difficult pieces. So he decided to go back to basics
and really learn the music. Have a look at his introduction
on You tube. Again I have been following his boot camp and
can see the improvement. Certainly spelling out the notes whilst
learning a new piece is really helpful

His philosophy is outlined here


and you can follow the links to the other parts.

I've also put myself forward for grade 5 music theory this march

What i haven't done is any number theory or logic. I have
given myself 4 days  this weekend to complete the assignment
if i don't then I will probably quit I can't really say I'm
enjoying the course OK I haven't really put much effort into
learning it. Right now though my musical interests are
dominanting if I can achieve grade 5 and 6 theory and grade
1 and 2 piano by the end of the year and get back into general
relativity then I wont feel so bad about abandoning M381.

I guess the non stop deadline of assignments exams, followed
by going straight back to other assignments over the past two
yeara has taken it's toll there is a small chance I'll continue
but I can't see it.


  1. Sorry to hear that you might ditch M381. I did wonder why I didn't see you at the last tutorial. I understand your perspective though. I am struggling with it still and the TMA's aren't that easy. I guess you can't do these things half-heartedly and if you have already been through the mill with all your other courses then it is difficult to drum up more enthuisiasm. On the positive side you have a new piano interest and that's obviously something you are keen to do. We now have a keyboard ourselves and we are getting interested in playing it. The links you have given will be useful to look at. All the best and I hope we can catch up sometime. Duncan

  2. Cheers having made the decision I feel I've got my life back it is a shame as I really want to understand Godel's theorem but obviously now is not the time.

    Glad you got a keyboard hope you get a lot of fun out of it. If you want to take it seriously though you will need at least a digital piano with 88 keys and proper weighted keys. Still there is a lot of fun to be had with keyboards and the fact that you are introduced to chords right away is definitely a plus.

    I'll watch the rest of your progress through M381. I still have 30 points to get my 2nd open degree. I will probably do the physics literature search project on quantum entanglement in 2015 to round it off

    Good luck with the rest of M381 you are obviously a lot more focused and motivated than me

    Best wishes Chris