Here’s a collection of very simple tunes for beginner pianists, using just the 5 notes which were shown in Piano Notation Basics Part 5. The free PDF can be downloaded from below the video, or via the Sheet Music section.
These videos are suitable for beginners of all ages and will be a useful resource for music teachers. Pause the videos at appropriate moments for comments, discussion or activities.
Part 1 introduces staves (the lines on which music is written) and clefs (the signs which tell you whether to play high notes or low notes).
Part 2 looks at note heads and stems, and explains what it means to say that notes are ‘on lines’ or ‘in spaces’.
Part 3 explains ‘the beat’ in music, and introduces time signatures and bar lines.
Part 4 introduces simple note values with some musical examples, and explains how finger numbers are used.
Part 5 shows you how to name and find some notes on the piano.
Part 6 is a review of things which were covered in the previous videos.
For ‘Getting Started On The Piano‘ (mentioned in Part 6), see the next post.
‘Hmm, what’s it supposed to sound like?’ If you’ve ever asked that question about an exam piece, you may have searched for a video of it on YouTube. You may also have discovered some videos that are not very good!
Fortunately, there are some videos that are performed and recorded to a very high standard, for example those by Jill Morton. Her recordings are a valuable reference for exam preparation, and they are enjoyable to listen to as well. All of the pieces are beautifully performed and very clearly recorded. So here’s a selection of Jill Morton’s videos of ABRSM exam pieces. You can find more, plus videos of Trinity College exam pieces, on Jill’s YouTube channel.
Here is an extract from the description on the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s official YouTube channel:
‘Watch The Duchess of Cambridge and Tom Walker perform ‘For Those Who Can’t Be Here’ at Westminster Abbey for Royal Carols: Together At Christmas. The performance took place in The Chapter House inside Westminster Abbey in December 2021. The song was played as part of the Royal Carols: Together At Christmas, a carol service that reflected upon the difficult past 18 months for people across our nation, and particularly for those who might be more vulnerable, isolated or have limited access to support.’
Cornelius Gurlitt (1820-1901) was a German composer who wrote a great amount of attractive music for piano students. Here is a selection of pieces from his collection The First Lessons (Anfangs-Stunden in German). These editions have been specially prepared for animatedpiano.com and are free to download. They are hosted by the International Music Score Library Project (imslp.org).
The earlier pieces in The First Lessons have no titles so the following descriptions may be helpful:
No.6, Allegretto grazioso, is a charming little melody which grows out of a C major broken chord pattern.
No.8, Vivace, is a spirited march.
No.9, Allegretto, is a little study which encourages a good, well-balanced hand position.
No.12, Moderato, is a simple scale study. It uses the scale of C major in the right hand and, later, G major in the left hand.
This year it’s going to be a very strange Christmas for most of us, but we have to make the best of it while remembering to stay safe. Here’s our musical Christmas greeting, featuring the sound of a carillon. If you’re wondering what a carillon is, there is some information in the video.
With best wishes for Christmas and the New Year.
In the Bleak Midwinter is a setting of a poem by Christina Rosetti (1830-94). The music is by Gustav Holst (1874-1934), who is best known as the composer of the orchestral suite The Planets. The sheet music can be downloaded below (underneath the video) or via the Sheet Music page.
This arrangement stays fairly close to Holst’s original setting for 4-part choir. A light touch on the sustaining pedal may be helpful in places, but be careful not to overdo the pedalling.
In this arrangement, both hands stay in position most of the time. But watch out for the right hand thumb-under in bar 11. Notice that all the notes in bars 11-12 can be found in the middle of the 2-octave scale of G major.
Here’s a spooky piece which has been specially written for animatedpiano.com . The free PDF sheet music can be downloaded below (underneath the video) or via the Sheet Music page. Goblins and Ghosts! is a staccato study which will need careful counting. Remember that the spaces between the notes are just as important as the notes themselves!
If you enjoy Goblins and Ghosts!, why not make a video of yourself playing it and upload it to YouTube? For extra effect you could dress up in a Halloween costume! But don’t worry if you’re not able to learn it in time for Halloween, it would be good at any time of the year.