Notespinner

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

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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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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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Get it Right!

I wrote some piano music recently, and had my students perform it in a concert. Gosh! I was much more enthusiastic about drawing their attention to the details of the score than I usually am.

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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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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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Common Problems in Piano Sight-Reading

Many people struggle with sight-reading at the piano. But not all for the same reason or reasons. Here are some common problems, together with my solutions to them.

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Pipe Organ Tutor Books

It behoves a teacher to be able to suggest a course of study to a student of the Pipe Organ. This is a fraught area that requires a bespoke solution; this review of the literature suggests some options for teacher and pupil alike.

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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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Vocabulary for talking about music

ABRSM Aural Tests assess students' listening skills by requiring discussion of a piece of music which is played to the student on the piano. In my experience, students are sometimes disadvantaged by a lack of vocabulary in discussing the music.

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The unaccompanied traditional song

The ABRSM requires a traditional unaccompanied song at all grades. Here are some thoughts: more to follow, but for now: Narrative, Range, Difficulty - and where do you find folk songs anyway?

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Piano Fingering

I constantly re-iterate "Pitch, Rhythm, Fingering" when students start to learn a new piece: it helps their learning. Pitch and Rhythm alone are not enough.

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Playing the piano makes you brainy

Does playing the piano make you brainy? Yes. It really does. On 29th September 2010, New Scientist reported recent research from several sources which explain how.

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