Ivory Pulse: Piano Blogs Digest – Sep 19, 2023

Welcome to a new edition of Ivory Pulse!

Every week, we dive into a sea of articles, blog posts, and updates to gather the most interesting and inspiring pieces from the world of piano music. From the latest news on piano technology and trends, to insightful interviews with accomplished pianists, to tips and tricks that will help you become a better player, we’ve got it all!

15 Best Advanced Piano Books (Technique + Sheet Music)

By: Selin Gökova, wanderingtunes.com

Selin Gökova’s article recommends 15 top piano books for advanced players, providing an invaluable guide for pianists looking to expand their collection. Emphasizing the vast array of choices in advanced piano literature, the list covers both technique and sheet music, catering to those at the boundary between intermediate and advanced levels as well. Featured books include essential technical studies like “Beringer’s Daily Technical Studies,” “Lizst Technical Exercises for the Piano,” and “Rational Principles of Piano Technique” by Alfred Cortot. Additionally, it presents advanced repertoire options, from comprehensive collections like “Piano Masterworks – Early Advanced Level” and “Chopin Complete Preludes, Nocturnes & Waltzes” to specialized compilations such as “Advanced Piano Solos Complete: Christmas” and “Favorite Jazz for Piano Solo.” The piece is a comprehensive overview for any serious pianist, ensuring they have the tools to refine their skills and explore a diverse musical landscape. Read more

The Magic of Wrist Circles: Rami Bar-Niv

By: Melanie Spanswick, melaniespanswick.com

In this blog post, guest writer Rami Bar-Niv discusses the importance of wrist circles in piano playing. Wrist circles enhance legato, phrasing, scales, arpeggios, and more, while keeping the hands free of stress and injury. The post explains why circles are used and provides examples of how to practice wrist circles with different exercises. It also mentions the use of wrist circles in leaps and situations where the left hand has bass notes or octaves alternating with chords. Overall, this post offers valuable insights into the magic of wrist circles in piano technique. Read more

Rachmaninoff’s Complete Piano Works – Now on Piano Street

By: nilsjohan, www.pianostreet.com

To commemorate the 150th anniversary of Sergei Vasilyevich Rachmaninoff’s birth, one of the paramount Romantic composers and legendary pianists, Piano Street has digitally released his complete works for piano. Recognizing Rachmaninoff’s significant position in the piano repertoire, Piano Street has endeavored to make available all 112 of his pieces for the instrument. This comprehensive collection includes well-known works like his Piano Concertos, Preludes, and Études-tableaux, as well as recent additions spanning transcriptions, compositions for multiple hands or two pianos, and early works from before 1900. Some standout additions include arrangements that Rachmaninoff made as tributes to violinist Fritz Kreisler, the Symphonic Dances Op. 45 two-piano version, and original solo pieces like the Corelli Variations. Fans and pianists can now access this exhaustive digital library, enabling a holistic exploration of Rachmaninoff’s monumental contributions to piano music. Read more

Ways to Count When Learning a New Piano Piece

By: Jen Crabb, pianoforretirees.com

Jen Crabb discusses the importance and methods of counting while learning a new piano piece. While some pianists may seem to play effortlessly, mastering the rhythm often requires dedicated counting, especially with challenging timings. Jen shares various counting methods for different time signatures, including the use of “and” for eighth notes and “1 er and a” for sixteenth notes. For compound time signatures, two counting approaches are offered, depending on the piece’s complexity. Besides counting, using metronomes, traditional or modern wrist-worn versions that provide a felt pulse rather than an audible tick, can assist in maintaining rhythm. Jen encourages persistent practice for those struggling with timing, emphasizing that dedication makes the process easier over time. Read more

Preparing For Performance Success

By: Tim Topham, topmusic.co

In the blog post Tim Topham discusses the comprehensive steps teachers should consider while preparing their students for a musical performance or exam. Key elements include setting goals, managing attitudes, setting realistic expectations, understanding the assessment criteria, preparing for the actual performance day, and honing performance techniques. Addressing common concerns, such as managing anxiety, learning the entire piece with an emphasis on the final 5%, and involving parents effectively are all highlighted. In addition, Topham mentions an upcoming 4-part online training series tailored for teachers to assist students in exam and performance preparation. The blog is part of TopMusic, a platform run by Topham that offers resources and insights for music educators. Read more

Level 6 Royal Conservatory of Music: YouTube videos for Lists A, B, C and Studies

By: Rebekah Maxner, rebekah.maxner.ca

The blog post introduces YouTube playlists that align with The Royal Conservatory of Music’s Celebration Series Sixth Edition, Level 6. The RCM Level 6 curriculum is divided into two volumes: The Piano Repertoire and the Etudes book. The former comprises three music lists categorized by era – Baroque, Classical and Classical-style, and Romantic along with 20th- and 21st-century pieces. There’s also an option for a ‘Teacher’s Choice’ substitution in List C. The latter book contains 16 pieces tailored for technical development at the Late Intermediate level. The provided playlists are sequenced as per the printed order in the books, and they aim to familiarize readers with each piece. Direct links are provided for individual song listening. A webinar on the ‘Teacher’s Choice’ option and a recommendation for Level 6 music by Rebekah Maxner are also mentioned. The article underscores the importance of etudes, describing them as a bridge between technical exercises and repertoire pieces, focusing on developing specific piano skills. Read more


That brings us to the end of this edition of Ivory Pulse. Don’t forget to join us again next week for another compilation of compelling piano-focused content. Until then, keep playing and enjoying the wonderful world of piano music.

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