Notespinner

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

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A pencil - 2B, the only hardness allowed for marking music

Pencils

I recently came across a comment by Richard Egarr of the AAM, in an interview for the Cambridge Alumnus Magazine. Does anyone else do this? Ban pencils in rehearsals?

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J S Bach's Explication - a guide to baroque ornamentation in keyboard music

Ornaments

It seems to me that there are two problems with ornaments: technical and visual. The technicalIt is not just that students can't get their fingers around ornaments on the piano - although the speed and delicacy is often a problem; I think that many players are confused when they shouldn't play the note printed (e.g. in baroque trills, they have to start on the upper auxiliary - they see a C and have to play D first).

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hands on an organ keyboard

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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Mr Black with a class on the Music Theory Fast course

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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Proud children with exam certificates

Music exam boards go head-to-head

Which exam board should aspiring musicians follow? Which has the best syllabus? and which has the best structure? For years I have followed ABRSM: ABRSM is the gold standard, imho, against which other boards could and should compare themselves.

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A drawing of a woman with fingers to her temples, concentrating.

Memory Lane

Some pianists, (many well-known concert artists, in fact) find playing from memory easy, and some find it very difficult. The pointers in this article, from Pianist magazine, may help.

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