Notespinner

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

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An Silvia by Schubert in English translation

You might be asking yourself why I would need to post a translation of a very famous song. Well, if you look this song up in an CD booklet or book of translations, almost all of them give the Shakespeare original. But that isn't right.

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Sight singing

I realise that many instrumentalists find sight-reading difficult. However, they should spare a thought for singers. Except for those who have perfect pitch, singing at sight is a lot harder than playing at sight on an instrument.

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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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The English Soldier?

What is to be done with Debussy's Le Petit Negre? It is a good piece, but it is unusable with its current title.

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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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Top Ten Tips for Adult Piano Beginners

Here are the Top Ten Tips for adult beginners learning the piano, from an article that appeared in Pianist (the magazine) August-September 2003 by Jocelyn Abbott.

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Adjusting to the Brave New World

Fergus Black of John Clare School talks about his experience teaching music online over the past year.

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Practising the piano on holiday

"I couldn't practise, because there wasn't a piano where we were on holiday." My response would be "And your point is?". I get mystified looks. If they had at least taken their sheet music, they would have been able to do something.

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Fioriture in Chopin’s Nocturnes

Old editions have their uses. The old Novello edition of Chopin Nocturnes has a very helpful table of the fioriture (fast florid passages) in the Chopin Nocturnes, with an interpretation by Frank Merrick of how to play them.

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Right Hand or Left Hand?

When learning a new piece of piano music, start with the Left Hand. Why? Because it is harder. But we can all take inspiration from the pianist Paul Wittgenstein, who used only his left arm and hand in concerts.

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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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Keyboard or Piano?

I offer Piano lessons - not Portable Keyboard lessons. If you are considering whether an instrument at home is suitable, here is a short guide.

Please click on the buttons below to visit my other music web sites.

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