Music News

Encore: when performers return to the stage to give an additional performance!

“Encore” is also a great title for a new series of four music books bursting with favourite exam pieces for piano (and violin). Hold on! Did you just say exam pieces? Boring!

Not so. Over the Christmas holidays, I’ve had great pleasure in playing through these books for not only myself but also with the purpose of testing them out as possible material for my pupils. I have to say that the choices of repertoire are excellent. There is a real mix of styles and although not ever song “floated my boat,” the vast majority were very usable, a handful getting me really excited! [···]

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Let me tell you about a little secret I’ve been keeping!

All my pupils love it! It’s been handy for helping them learn new songs, especially tricky bits! It’s helped them improve their music reading skills! It’s encouraged a deeper understanding of theory! And best of all it’s free!

So what’s the big secret? Drum roll please…. Noteflight!?!

What does Noteflight do?

Noteflight is easy to use software with which you can create, listen and print out high-quality sheet music notation. And it’s brilliant!!!

Is there a catch?

Not really. Most of my students use the basic version which is free. You can pay a monthly or yearly subscription for extra features but the free version is  [···]

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brain research on musicians

Who has not heard a teenager, a parent or adult beginner, or an administrator or politician wonder out loud what the point of learning music is, for those who are not planning on turning pro?

Apart from the obvious personal benefit from enjoyment, social connection, and artistic expression, there is scientific research about learning music that is well worth keeping in mind and passing along to others — especially as a music teacher.  I emailed my son a link to a great little animated video from TED-Ed-Lessons, which presents an excellent summary of how learning to play music helps develop higher brain function.  It was written by Anita Collins, who has a Ph.D. in Neuroscience and Music Education.  We’ll discuss this more, below.

But first, it’s worth noting that only in the last couple of months, MIT researchers have published findings that certain neurons in our brains are tuned in specifically to processing the sound of music, suggesting that music may have played an important role in the evolution of the human nervous system.  Taken together with the finding of musical instruments from as far back as 70,000 years ago, it’s clear that music is essential to human society.

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