Welcome

We bring to our music from our lives and take from our music to the rest of our living’  Mildred Portney-Chase

Welcome to this forum for my piano pupils and other pianists: a space to share the joys, tribulations and love of music and playing the piano.

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NEWS AND UPDATES

UPDATE March 2017:  Congratulations to Josie and Flora who bagged first and second places in the Tynedale Music Festival piano (16 and under) class. Not going to say who got which as me and my piano teacher colleague agreed that the placing could have gone either way. And I think both Josie and Flora would agree that it was the experience of playing beautifully on a beautiful Steinway which was so satisfying. It was good to hear other young people playing pieces that Kerri, Erik, Thomas, Amy, Rachel and other pianosatmumberfive pianists are studying. SO next year I’d like to increase our entries….. from these two brave pioneers to twenty cheerful performers?? PS Watch out for photos in the Courant.

UPDATE February 2017  March Newsletter Online HERE

UPDATE February 2017  The piano classes of the Tynedale Music Festival are on Saturday March 11th at the Queens Hall.  You can find the times of each class on the Festival website but it’s an easy come easy go arrangement for audience.  It’s a great opportunity to hear other  pianists, all ages, all levels  and enjoy a range of repertoire.  You can see whether you agree with the adjudicator’s comments,  hear pieces that you might like to play and most important of all support Josie and Flora who will be playing at 3.15. The afternoon session starts at 2pm.  I will be there or in the cafe most of the day and will be buying cake and drinks for anyone who cares to join me after the piano class finishes!

UPDATE January 2017  Anybody else seen and enjoyed La La Land? Tunes were going round in my head all night so I admitted defeat and have just downloaded Sebastian and Mia’s duet City of Stars and Mia and Sebastian’s Theme. (A search on the Music Notes website will bring them both up.) Good news is that they are very playable – so if you’re a Grade 1+ level pianist take a look. Bad news is that I still can’t get the music out of my head!
PS Ryan Gosling’s piano teacher got a mention in the credits…he practised full time for three months to prepare for the role.

UPDATE December 1st… So we can officially say the ‘Christmas’ word now! And the Christmas Concert Schedule looks like this:

* NEXT LESSON  Decide what you will perform!  Please update your review list and we will choose a piece that you know and enjoy playing for the delight of family and friends at the concert .  Take a look at this impressive Review List by Alex– I wonder what he will play!  Some of you have already told me that there will be family concerts at home over the Christmas period.  I would love to see any clips you can send me via youtube or dropbox.

* CONCERT SATURDAY DECEMBER 17th at 5 Shaftoe Crescent  Apologies to those who can’t make it.  At this busy time of year I’ve just plumped for a date and consulted about time so I know that some of you will be arriving late/leaving early.  Please just come for any part of the concert you can.

  • 3.30 Arrival, Christma Bingo, Chat And a first look at CAKE for those who can’t stay to the end.
  • 4.00 Concert concluding with the now ‘traditional’ singing and silliness plus ‘prize giving’   Categories to include:  The best bow;  An entertaining performance; Best rests;  A great ‘twinkle’ hand; Great parent notes;  An accomplished performance (or two or three!)  – and anything else I choose to give a prize for !
  • 5.00  Cake and informal playing/singing

 

PS Please start baking! Contributions to drinks also welcome.

UPDATE November:  Find this Autumn’s News including Halloween Twinkles and concert information  at  Information for Pupils and Parents     And here’s a clip from last autumn – still just as true.  Watch it to learn about how structured practice strengthens those brain cells and allows you to apply that strength to other activities.  (Thanks to Frieda and her mum for the clip!)  Music on the brain

UPDATE/RECORDINGS Sept:  A great week’s playing at HMS.  100% attendance and nearly everybody had completed 5 practices or more during the week   (You ‘nearlies’ know who you are!)  Thank you too to parents who sent messages for information and encouragement via the practice notebook.    If I promised to record a piece to help your practice it is now online on my website.  Follow the link  to ‘Practice Pages’ and scroll down until you find Bach’s Invention in A minor from the Grade 6 list, Across the Stars from Star Wars and La donna e mobile from the Grade 1 list.  The original song from Verdi’s opera Rigoletto is all about women taking their pick, one fellow after another – sounds good to me!  You might want to do a Youtube search.   I’ve written some silly words… there will be a prize if you can write something silly too!

UPDATE:  WATCH THIS! I’m sending this beautiful thing to everybody – thank you to my pupil Charlotte for finding it on YouTube.  Please watch and enjoy.

Elegy by Nobuyuki Tsujii
Was excited today to find the sheet music online.  If you are playing at around grade4 level or above ….or if you are a very determined grade 3er ….you might like to add this into your plan. (If you want to play it this term it would replace the Romantic piece we discussed at your lesson this week).  Just let me know,

UPDATE:  HEXHAM MIDDLE, SEPTEMBER  A great start to the piano playing year at Hexham Middle this week.  Lovely to see and hear you all again!

  • Congratulations to Year 5 pupils.  All of them made it to the piano room on time with their music for their first lesson!  It can sometimes be difficult to remember leave your school lesson on time – Mr Holdsworth suggests that you tell your teacher at the beginning of the lesson that it is your piano lesson day.  Take note Mr Holdsworth:  The Year 5 pupils all sing beautifully!
  • Music  Your child will have a plan for the term which includes technical warm ups, review pieces, new pieces and music reading activities.  I try and keep the cost of music books down but if cost is a problem please let me know and I may be able to loan music.  On the other hand if you would like to invest in music books do get in touch and I will be able to suggest any number of wonderful options!
  • Well done to those who completed a Summer Time worksheet.  Follow the link for the very interesting facts that Jonny Henderson found out about Beethoven   Alex watched Last Night of the Proms, catch up on iplay if you missed it, and will be playing Land of Hope and Glory this term!
  • Finally a Sticker ReminderFor all my ‘sticker pupils’ here is a reminder of  ‘system’    You get
    o 1 sticker for coming to your lesson on time with your music
    o 1 sticker for completing your practice record
    o 1 sticker for five practices or more
    o 1 sticker for really listening at your lesson – to me, your teacher, and to the sound you are making
    o 1 sticker for something played beautifully
    o And a BONUS sticker for something really special
    You are aiming for at least 3 stickers in each lesson – a 6 sticker lesson is rare and cause for real celebration!   I am suggesting that you collect this term’s stickers together and after you have achieved THIRTY stickers a parental reward should be awarded. So far ideas for suitable rewards include
    *my favourite pudding
    *watching a film together
    *an outing somewhere I want to go
    *going to a concert together
    ……I expect you can think up some more. Let me know (PS Teenagers are welcome to opt into the system – there’s no shame in liking stickers still!)

UPDATE: AUGUST I’m really enjoying exploring new exam syallbuses and beyond.  Have just recorded a beautiful jazz/folk piece by Nikki Iles.  Find it on Practice Pages   And if you like it why not buy the book which comes with a CD.  File 02-08-2016, 12 53 08

UPDATE: JULY  Spaces for the next academic year are filling fast.  Here is the current state of play:  Suzuki Pupils – spaces available.  Hexham Middle School – spaces available.   Other pupils – I may have the odd space or two free so it’s worth getting in touch to discuss options.  If I can’t help I may be able to suggest someone else who can.

UPDATE: JULY  I’ll be planning timetables in August – thanks to those of you who have already let me know about your after school activities and other commitments.  I’ll do my best to accommodate them!  Please keep the info coming.

UPDATE: JULY  Summer Newsletter with dates, ideas and information for parents now online HERE   Fantastic concert/party here last Sunday.  Thank you for coming.  We raised over £700 towards Kelvin’s  school fees….and Andy Murray won Wimbledon.  Corks popping all around!

UPDATE: JULY   Charlie can’t make it on Sunday but has kindly said that I can post this Moody Prawn moment online for you to enjoy.  Well played Charlie! Moody Prawn by Charlie

UPDATE: JULY  Looking forward to seeing as many of you as can make it on Sunday.  We start with a Suzuki piano recital by Logan to be followed by a flute and violin programme by Helena Barnes and Kathryn Berry.  Then it’s time for the rest of us!  If you haven’t had an invite/programme please get in touch – or just turn up any time after 1pm this Sunday 10th July.

UPDATE: MAY  How many hours practice does it take to pass Grade1…..Grade8?  Make a guess and then read this!

https://www.facebook.com/groups/839681522790976/permalink/1063911713701288/

UPDATE:  MAY   summer’s coming – and I’m already looking forward to my annual fix of world music and culture at the Doris summer school.
Our kids grew up with this ….fire eating, dancing, drumming, making music and getting up to teenagerish stuff in a teepee. A great time for the whole family. These days Nigel and I park ourselves quietly in a corner of the field and offer to buy tickets for any family who care to join us….. a big gang last year.
Take a look. This is a festival with a difference – YOU are taught to create the music and dance. If you book piano teacher will keep her distance but be quietly delighted to see her pupils getting into world rhythms!

www.tribeofdoris.co.uk/line-up/

PS Watch out for the old lady with the fiddle!

UPDATE:  APRIL  Grade 1’s easy peasy, right?  Read this and then treat your Grade1 pianist with the respect they deserve!  (Oh…and you can send their teacher a cake too if you like.)

UPDATE: APRIL  Now that I’ve passed my Level 1 Suzuki Teaching exam I’m starting to come out as a Suzuki teacher.  If you or anyone you know is interested in learning piano the Suzuki way please refer them to the Suzuki Pages  and tell them to get in touch!

UPDATE: MARCH Spring newsletter online HERE

UPDATE: OCTOBER  A good number of you are completing 5 practices a week and some of you are ready to record your first pieces of the new academic year.  Well done!  I’d be interested to know how you are finding the new practice record system.  Do you like the notebook/sticky label method or did you prefer the weekly practice sheet?  Let me know – and take a look at this brilliant  record!  

UPDATE: September   Did you know that playing music exercises every area of the brain at once?  Watch this clip to learn about how structured practice strengthens those brain cells and allows you to apply that strength to other activities.  (Thanks to Frieda and her mum for the clip!)

Music on the brain

UPDATE:  September

Learning Arietta by Clementi?  Here is an under speed recording to help you make a start.

UPDATE:  May  

Have graduated to using Facebook page and group for regular updates – please join the pianosatnumberfive facebook group to stay in touch!  (I’ll still be using these pages for static information and documents.)

INVITATION: Pianosatnumberfive Music and Cake 20th June

At this time of year it is impossible for everybody to make it so I’ve just gone for this concert date in the hope that a good number will be free. Please could you let me know if you can come – and roughly how many people you will be bringing.
The concert will start at 10.00 and be followed by cake, hopefully in the garden! I hope we will include contributions from the following groups:
*Pupils who have recently performed to an ABRSM examiner – or who will do in the near future!
*More advanced pupils – it’s lovely for beginners to hear you. (So please Kerri and Eve can we think about what you might play soon?)
*Beginners – my little Suzuki group
*And for the first time, representatives from Hexham Middle School where I teach on a Monday morning
*Adults – yes, I know it’s scary performing to young people. (I’m plucking up my courage!)
*Pupils who have a lovely piece they would like to perform

……and finally, Parents plus Husband Nigel???!!! It is rumoured that we have a violinist or two, a banjo player and several pianists among us!!!
There will be no charge but there will be an opportunity to contribute to Kelvin’s school fees once again ( Send Kelvin to school! by Helena Barnes http://www.gofundme.com/469dnw )

Looking forward to hearing from you

UPDATE: April

It’s been a good start to the term. I especially enjoyed hearing your ‘Review’pieces. (These are pieces which are well known – we usually select one each week to enjoy playing through and identify one thing we can do to make it even better.) The term’s programme for each pupil is attached to this week’s lesson notes – please take a look at it.
For all my ‘sticker pupils’ – and I’m extending this to School pupils this term – I’m sending a reminder of the ‘system’. In brief
o 1 sticker for coming to your lesson on time with your music
o 1 sticker for completing your practice record
o 1 sticker for five practices or more
o 1 sticker for really listening at your lesson – to me, your teacher, and to the sound you are making
o 1 sticker for something played beautifully
o And a BONUS sticker for something really special
You are aiming for at least 3 stickers in each lesson – a 6 sticker lesson is rare and cause for real celebration!

Rachel Hardcastle prompted me to further thoughts with her question ‘What is the target?’ So after further discussion with Rachel and Frieda I am suggesting that you collect this term’s stickers together and after you have achieved THIRTY stickers a parental reward should be awarded. So far ideas for suitable rewards include
*my favourite pudding
*watching a film together
*an outing somewhere I want to go
*going to a concert together
……I expect you can think up some more. Let me know (PS Teenagers are welcome to opt into the system – there’s no shame in liking stickers still!)

UPDATE:  February  My first Suzuki family have started taking lessons – very exciting – and I’m looking for two more families to join them.    If you would like to know more please go to ‘Suzuki Pages’ and then get in in touch if you would like to talk about lessons for your five year old.

UPDATE:  January  I’m really enjoying working on some Bartok with Eve, Sarah and Kerri.  Get a flavour of what they’re playing by watching  this Youtube clip  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pFLM21f6imE

UPDATE:  December   Some lovely playing at our Christmas concert.  Thank you everybody.  You all gave us something lovely with which to start the festive season  – and we’re going to knock the wall down before the next concert!

UPDATE:  SEPT 26th:  Term has started really well with many of you recording five practices or more each week.  And three pianists have already practiced a piece to performance standard.  Well done!

  • Next week we will be half way to half term ….think about it!… so we’re having a mini- chocolate week.  Please make a note of two pieces you listen to this week – one can be Capital FM the other must be a classical or jazz piece.  Note the name of the piece and who wrote it, share it with us on the noticeboard in the balcony room when you arrive for your lesson and I will distribute chocolate!
  • If you have access to a smart phone check out this exciting new resource which has just been produced by the exam board.   All the pieces from Grade 1 -3 have been recorded and you can listen to them hands together, hands separately.  You can slow down the speed to play along and there are other helpful tools to help you practice.  So come on all you Vanhal (Cantabile) and Clementi (Sonatina) people – find it at http://gb.abrsm.org/en/exam-support/practice-tools-and-applications/piano-practice-partner/

UPDATE: SEPT 1st  Just back from Piano Teacher Training Boot Camp with loads of ideas for the new term.  Looking forward to seeing you all.  Check out the new system for STICKERS, PRIZES, EXAMS and CHOCOLATE here!

Stickers document

UPDATE:  JULY 13th   More good news!  I’ve just accessed the online exam results for seven pupils who took exams this term – a mix of merits and distinctions.  Well done everybody!  I’ll be ringing or emailing with the details once the certificates and comment sheets come through in the post, probably on Tuesday.  But if you can’t wait to know your overall mark or if you’re on holiday and difficult to contact please feel free to ring me on my mobile.  (You might want to bear in mind that I’ll be in France from Thursday.)

UPDATE JULY 2014  Good news After leaving my salaried job in Newcastle I am now full time in Hexham and plan to start a small Suzuki teaching practice over the course of the next year. Read more about learning the Suzuki way at http://www.britishsuzuki.com and get in touch if you would like to know more. I also have limited spaces for ‘Standard’ lessons starting in September.

Summer holidays are nearly here – Hooray! Some pupils will want to carry on practising – others will want a rest. I will be sending pupils home with a ‘Holiday Book’, usually a book of very easy material. Please put it on the piano and encourage your child to have a play when they pass the instrument. The idea is not to struggle for perfection but simply to have a go – and to play me something at the beginning of next year, however short and simple.

Summer TV PLEASE WATCH Essential viewing for anybody interested in music of any sort – do a Youtube search for Howard Goodall’s Story of Music From cave to garage band in six episodes. An invaluable guide for anybody thinking of GCSE music, contemplating post Grade 3 exams or just wanting to know more and be ravished by delicious music.

UPDATE JUNE 2014 Fabulous concert on Sunday – Well done everybody! Performances of the month are now suspended until the autumn when I will once again be selecting performances to feature on this website.

UPDATE 09/10/13 NEW ONLINE  MINSTRELS CHALLENGE  Go to Puzzles Page and take the note reading challenge today.   Chocolate Prizes if you get 10 out of 10 in your lesson!

AURAL TESTS ONLINE HEREIf you’re preparing for an exam – or even if you’re not! – why not try yourself out at home and let me know how you get on? Go to http://e-musicmaestro.com/auraltests/

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Boy Scale Wizard

Just came across this impressive set of Grade5 scales on youtube.  Watch and learn – but  bear in mind that a lot of S-L-O-W practice lies behind this great display!  ABRSM – Grade 5 Piano exam (complete) – YouTube

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Scarlatti stress buster

Here’s a beautiful performance  of  Domenico Scarlatti – Keyboard Sonata In G Minor  by Yevgeny Sudbin.

(Currently on the Grade 4 list.  I’m looking forward to a Performance of the Month girls!)

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