Notespinner

Thoughts on composing, teaching and performing music, by Fergus Black

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Why practise piano scales? … and arpeggios!

What are benefits of scale practice, and what are the best ways to practise scales? The Aristocats knew: "Every truly cultured music student knows, You must learn your scales and your arpeggios"

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How singers practise

The short answer would be "With some difficulty". If you are an instrumentalist, ask yourself, how would I practise if I didn't have my instrument with me? That puts you, more or less, in the position of a singer.

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Is the backing track too fast?

You want to practise for your exam. You take out the CD from the envelope at the back of the book, but horror of horrors, it goes at the speed of light, and you can't keep up.

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Teaching Young Beginners

There seems to be a view that 8 years old is a good age to begin piano lessons: by that age children have sufficient mental and physical capacity, etc. But is it true?

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The impact of Brexit on the Church musician

This humorous article about putting together a Lessons and Carols service for Christmas in the brave new world of the UK leaving the EU, first appeared in the December edition of the Stamford All Saints' December 2018 magazine.

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How to practise the piano

This page is a note about how I teach students how to practise. What areas they should include and what technique can help them improve pieces they are learning.

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Music Theory Fast

I have been delivering a crash course in ABRSM Grade 5 Music Theory this week, for some nice people in Stamford (UK). They called their course Music Theory Fast, and whilst I cavilled, of course, at the grammar, I liked the double meaning of "Fast": we did it quick, or rather quickly, and hopefully it will stick fast.

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Piano Teaching for Advanced Instrumentalists and A-level students

If you are an A-level (or prospective A-level student), who needs to improve their keyboard skills, then here is a possible syllabus that I would suggest, with resources for the first year of lessons.

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Nerves

I was depping on the organ the other day in a normal parish church near here. It was communion, and the choir was trying to sing And Didst Thou Travel Light by Richard Shephard under my direction from the piano.

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In praise of the local music shop

All over the country, and probably the world, there are sad stories of independent bookshops closing down. I suppose the same must be happening with music shops

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Dominant and Diminished Sevenths

I've recently posted some Learning Guides to practising Diminished and Dominant Sevenths for ABRSM Grade 8 piano.

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Piano Scales for exams

There are too many scales in ABRSM piano exams: far more than for other instruments - and I have sat across the table from the chief examiner and told her so. Why are there just scales and arpeggios and not technical exercises, as for other instruments?

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