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Coldplay “Paradise” – a must-learn for piano teachers

by Tim Topham

If you’re not familiar with this new track by Coldplay, it’s time to get acquainted! It’s getting a huge amount of airplay in Australia, is used regularly on promos for the TV series Revenge, and everyone seems to love it. It’s also become a piece which every kid wants to play on piano! I find ... Coldplay “Paradise” – a must-learn for piano teachers

02/14/2012 Read more

Why extrinsic rewards are so bad for motivation

by Tim Topham

Do rewards motivate people? Absolutely: They motivate people to get rewards! So states Daniel Pink in his engaging book Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us. According to his research, extrinsic rewards, particularly “if-then” or “contingent” rewards (“if you do this, then you’ll get that”) snuff out all self motivation and creativity, regardless of ... Why extrinsic rewards are so bad for motivation

02/09/2012 Read more

Preparing for an AMusA performance diploma exam – why bother?!

by Tim Topham

I recently sat and passed my Associate Diploma of Performance (called the “AMusA” piano exam in Australia) with Distinction. Needless to say, I was ecstatic! It was a project that I’d been working towards for around two years, having last sat a piano exam when I was 12 and having had a break of around ... Preparing for an AMusA performance diploma exam – why bother?!

Super Mario for piano – Alfred Publishing

by Tim Topham

Some of you may have heard about Alfred Publishing finally putting out an authorised version of the “Super Mario” computer game music for piano solo. As you know from previous posts, I have a lot of students who enjoy playing computer game music and who regularly bring it to their lessons, often having struggled with ... Super Mario for piano – Alfred Publishing

02/07/2012 Read more

The Firm Soundtrack – Dave Grusin

by Tim Topham

A colleague recently introduced me to the music from the movie “The Firm”. I haven’t seen the movie, but the music is great – energetic and fun, jazzy and bluesy. It is at the harder end of the spectrum – about Grade 7+ – and teenagers in particular will love it. At least one piece ... The Firm Soundtrack – Dave Grusin

02/04/2012 Read more

Using “sus” chords to inspire beginners

by Tim Topham

No, I’m not talking about anything ‘suss’, but rather chord “suspensions”. If you’re not familiar with suspensions, or how they can be used to inspire your students from their first or second lesson, read on… I like to introduce triads in a student’s very first lesson or two and in some cases it’s the first ... Using “sus” chords to inspire beginners

01/30/2012 Read more
 

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Repertoire Ideas

by Tim Topham

I recently purchased some new music you might be interested in exploring with your students this year. Firstly, have a look at The Virtuosic Performer. Just about all the pieces in Book 2 were fantastic and around Grade 2-3 level. Many of them sound and look amazing, but are actually quite easy to learn and ... Repertoire Ideas

01/27/2012 Read more

General knowledge/analysis help for your students – Ross Hamilton

by Tim Topham

Have you ever been teaching a piece of music for a student to present at an exam, only to realise a few week’s out that you are not 100% sure of the piece’s analysis/general knowledge requirements? I have, and given the importance that is placed on a student’s understanding of the ‘general knowledge’ surrounding the ... General knowledge/analysis help for your students – Ross Hamilton

01/25/2012 Read more

75 pieces in one year? How Ben went from beginner to Grade 2 in 10 months!

by Tim Topham

In 2011, I challenged all my students to learn at least 40 pieces during the school year. Out of my 40 or so students (and despite my best motivational efforts) most managed around 20 pieces, two achieved the 40 pieces milestone and one completely outdid even my own expectations. Ben (pictured with his award), learnt ... 75 pieces in one year? How Ben went from beginner to Grade 2 in 10 months!

01/16/2012 Read more

Left Hand Piano Music: Takeo TCHINAI

by Tim Topham

During my lay-off with an injured right hand last term, I took some time to investigate piano music for LH. I was already studying Chopin’s Etude Op 10 No 12, so that got a good workout, but I couldn’t believe how much great stuff has been written for just one hand! Even more impressive is ... Left Hand Piano Music: Takeo TCHINAI

01/05/2012 Read more

Why is “sad” piano music so popular on YouTube?

by Tim Topham

In my recent repertoire searches, I came across HEAPS of “sad piano music”. It seems that many YouTube composers have only one goal in mind: to make listeners cry – not sure why exactly! The first time I was introduced to this was after reading a list of someone’s ‘Top 10’ sad piano pieces (Google ... Why is “sad” piano music so popular on YouTube?

12/31/2011 Read more

How to find cool new repertoire for your students

by Tim Topham

As my regular readers will know, I’m a huge fan of finding new repertoire for my students. In fact, I believe it’s a job necessity! I predominantly teach beginners to around Grade 2 level, many of whom start learning in Year 7 (ie. 12-13 years old) and often without any prior musical training. I also ... How to find cool new repertoire for your students

12/19/2011 Read more