Saltdean Piano Recital, 2019

Last month, my students got together to perform exam pieces, current favourites, some Christmassy tunes, and other pieces that they’ve been working on!

It was so lovely to have my students and their families join us in celebrating the hard work that they have all put in. A small group of adult students performed to each other in the morning, which was really lovely. It can be very nerve-wracking to share solo performances for the first time, so I was very proud of four adult students who were performing for the very first time!

After that, my younger students performed to their parents, siblings and families. We had a lovely mix of different pieces, including Disney arrangements, ABRSM exam pieces, a mother-and-daughter duet, student duets, and plenty of other solo performances.

Thank you so much for everyone’s support! Here are some photos!

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Piano

Christmas Piano Jam, 2018

On 5th December 2018, my students performed in a relaxed piano recital at the DeJa Vu Café on the South Coast Rd in Peacehaven. Some of the performances included an improvised Christmas Blues piece, lots of Christmas carols, an own composition, some Little Mix arrangements, two students performing a duet of Hallelujah, and a duet of Twelve days of Christmas with everyone singing along!

Many thanks for De Ja Vu for hosting us, and the tasty cakes and coffees. Big congratulations to my wonderful students who took the plunge and performed in front of a crowd! And also thank you to my team of jingle-bellers who accompanied my rendition of Mariah Carey’s All I Want For Christmas! Much appreciated..! It was so lovely to see so many of my piano families together. Happy Christmas!

Here’s Paula and I playing Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer. For some more photos and videos, check out our Facebook page!

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Keyboard

Duet Workshops!

Over the summer, I offered duet workshops to some students. The idea was for students to have an opportunity to work on ensemble skills, as well as meet other students working at a similar level, and have fun!

Here, two of my adult students worked together over two one-hour sessions. Neither had played a duet before (apart from with me in lessons), and I think both students were a little nervous about the whole thing!

In the first session, we looked over the music, worked on counting together, and began to work on the first half of the piece. Two weeks later, we had our second session. Both students had had chance to practice their own parts. We worked on timings, ironed out some problem areas, practised with the metronome and started to think about dynamics.

To finish the final session, we took a couple of videos to analyse the performance. Here is the final video!

It is not a perfect performance. But I think we did a great job! It was fun to put together a duet piece, and it challenged both students in different ways – staying in time, avoiding pausing or gaps in the music, counting together, and knowing when to continue playing or stop (or improvise!)

I’ll definitely be running more duet workshops!

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Piano lessons

Junior Recital: November 2017

It was a pleasure to hold our Junior Recital at the Telscombe Civic Centre in November 2017. Students ranged from complete beginners (Iciar is 4 years old and had only had 3 piano lessons!) to teenagers working towards grade 3 ABRSM exams. There were a lot of duets, and even an own composition!

Congratulations to my lovely students who worked so hard to be able to perform at the recital. Thank you to my piano family families and friends who encourage and support these young students!

Here are some photos from the recital!

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Piano Lessons with Rachael

Adult beginner? Don’t be scared!

Would you love to learn to play the piano but feel that it’s too late for you to learn something new? Have you always wished you could play just a few of your favourite songs, but worry that you have no musical talent at all?

It is never too late! I’ve taught adults of all ages, most of whom had zero musical experience or training when they started lessons.

Here are some real stories:

One student in his late-70s began piano lessons with me after getting frustrated with a lack of progress when teaching himself from books and video tutorials. Having no prior musical training or experience, we worked through technical exercises and a range of pieces to build up strength and co-ordination in the hands. Within 18 months, he’d passed his grade 1 exam! With a thirst for musicals and Broadway pieces, we decided to leave the piano grading syllabus for a while and concentrate on learning pieces that the student loved. His fortnightly lessons are relaxed and fun as we tackle issues which arise in pieces he loves to play.

Another student started piano lessons as a fun way to relax in between her busy job and family life. With her natural attention to detail, we studied theory, worked on scales, and took a thorough and precise approach to every piece. Achieving merits in both her grade 1 and 2 exams, she is now working towards her grade 3 exam, whilst also enjoying the challenge of playing a favourite pop song. Her determined and methodical approach is inspiring.

A doctor by profession, another student began lessons to achieve her dream of playing a piano piece on her wedding day. She found piano lessons to be a great way to relax from her stressful job and often described her weekly lessons as therapeutic. She practised and practised with her goal in mind, and soon her wedding day came around. In the lesson after her wedding, she showed me a video of her playing: she was sat at the piano in her beautiful white dress, playing the piece we had worked together on for months, with her family and friends all around her. The work was all hers, but I felt proud!

Another student in her 60s began lessons with me just because she loves music. “I’ve told myself that I’ll stick at it for six months and see if I get anywhere,” she told me. She picks challenging pieces that she loves the sound of, and practises when she can, in between her other hobbies and commitments. More than three years later, and she still continues her fortnightly lessons playing purely for her own enjoyment – no grand goal in mind; just playing music because it’s fun. I admire her perseverance, and always look forward to our lessons.

I could easily write about all of my adult students. Each has a story. Their goals and experiences are always vastly different and I love finding them out.

But one thing a lot of my adult piano students do have in common is that they were nervous about starting lessons. One lady told me she’d kept my phone number written down on a piece of paper in her kitchen for three weeks before she plucked up the courage to call me. Another student – a successful businessman and outwardly confident guy – began joint lessons with his (somewhat reluctant!) daughter, before continuing lessons on his own.

It doesn’t matter if you’ve never played an instrument before.
It doesn’t matter if the idea of reading sheet music terrifies you.
It doesn’t matter if you think you have no sense of rhythm, or can’t sing a note.

It’s never too late to start. And I’m really not too scary at all…!

Shoot me an email or give me a call – your first lesson is free!

WHAT MY STUDENTS SAY…

“I’ve always wanted to be able to play the piano but life seemed to get in the way. For my 69th birthday, my son bought me three piano lessons with Rachael. That was two years ago! Last year I took my Grade 1 and, much to my amazement, I passed and am now working towards taking Grade 2 in a few months time.

Rachael is a lovely person and her teaching style is relaxed and encouraging but, at the same time, she has a unique way of getting the best out of her students. I really look forward to my lessons and feel I have made incredible progress!” – Jill, student.

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Piano books

Piano Books

Here are links to purchase books I regularly use when I’m teaching.

BEGINNERS BOOKS

TECHNICAL BOOKS

MAKING THE GRADE (POPULAR PERFORMANCE PIECES)

OTHER PERFORMANCE BOOKS

THEORY WORKBOOKS

These are Amazon affiliate links.

Tempo!

From slowest to fastest:
  • Larghissimo – very, very slow (24 bpm and under)
  • Grave – very slow (25–45 bpm)
  • Largo – broadly (40–60 bpm)
  • Lento – slowly (45–60 bpm)
  • Larghetto – rather broadly (60–66 bpm)
  • Adagio – slow and stately (literally, “at ease”) (66–76 bpm)
  • Adagietto – slower than andante (72–76 bpm)
  • Andante – at a walking pace (76–108 bpm)
  • Andantino – slightly faster than Andante (although in some cases it can be taken to mean slightly slower than andante) (80–108 bpm)
  • Marcia moderato – moderately, in the manner of a march (83–85 bpm)
  • Andante moderato – between andante and moderato (thus the name andante moderato) (92–112 bpm)
  • Moderato – moderately (108–120 bpm)
  • Allegretto – by the mid 19th century, moderately fast (112–120 bpm); see paragraph above for earlier usage
  • Allegro moderato – close to but not quite allegro (116–120 bpm)
  • Allegro – fast, quickly, and bright (120–168 bpm) (molto allegro is slightly faster than allegro, but always in its range)
  • Vivace – lively and fast (168–176 bpm)
  • Vivacissimo – very fast and lively (172–176 bpm)
  • Allegrissimo or Allegro vivace – very fast (172–176 bpm)
  • Presto – very, very fast (168–200 bpm)
  • Prestissimo – even faster than Presto (200 bpm and over)
Terms for tempo change:
  • Rallentando – gradually slowing down
  • Ritardando – gradually slowing down (but not as much as rallentando)
  • Ritenuto – immediately slowing down
  • Stringendo – gradually speeding up (slowly)
  • Accelerando – gradually speeding up (quickly)
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