A Creative Review of the ABRSM 2019 – 2020 Piano Syllabus

A Creative Review of the ABRSM 2019 – 2020 Piano Syllabus

I was very pleased to be able to write a review of the new ABRSM 2019 – 2020 syllabus for the excellent blog by Tim Topham.

Tim is an  internationally-renowned music educator, piano teacher, writer and presenter.

Through his blog and podcast  at timtopham.com, he regularly inspires more than 20,000 teachers across the globe to become better educators for their students.  He has also set-up an international community of dedicated and creative teachers – his Inner Circle – of which I am very pleased to be a member.

Readers of my blog will know my views on the place of piano exams in a musical education.  Whilst exams can be an excellent motivator for some students, too much focus on exams can be detrimental to the development of all-round musicianship and, at worst, can put a student off playing the piano altogether.  Many of my students choose not to go down the exam route and I will only enter students for exams when they are fully ready.  Please refer to my ‘Guiding Principles‘ for more information about my approach to piano exams.

You can read my review here.


What a Difference Three Years Makes……Student Concert June 2018

What a Difference Three Years Makes……Student Concert June 2018

I’ve been holding my twice-yearly concerts for nearly four years now. In the earlier years, I didn’t always record the performances although I have now started doing so. It’s lovely to watch them back and see how the students have developed over the years. Luckily, however, there are some recordings of performances at the earlier concerts so I have been able to look back on some from July 2015 and see how the students have developed since then, as seen in the videos from my latest concert on 30 June 2018. For starters, here is Nathan in July 2015, then 6 years’ old, playing 2 pieces including his own composition:

And here he is three years later, age 9, playing Little Prelude in C by JS Bach……

Keiva was only just 5 years old when she played here at her second concert:

And here she is, at 8, playing the wonderful Emerald Green by June Armstrong:

Here’s Daniel playing at his first concert in July 2015 when he was 6:

And three years’ later he performs his own composition The Easter Blues:

Izzy was 7 when she played Plain Sailing by Rosa Conrad at her second concert:

And at the age of 10 here she is introducing and playing her own ‘untitled’ composition, and challenging the audience to see if they could tell what it was about!

I often bore friends and family by saying I have the best job in the world. But I really do. And watching my students grow and develop, not just as pianists but as young people, is a real privilege.

Student Concert December 2017

Student Concert December 2017

My twice-yearly student concert was held on 2nd December 2017 at a local church.  One of my favourite things about holding regular concerts is being able to see how the students progress in confidence and ability over time.  For example, here is Nathan, back in 2015 when he was 6, playing 2 pieces including his own composition:

And here he is two and a half years’ later, aged 9, playing the Theme from James Bond:

For more videos of the performances from Saturday please head over to my Facebook page where I will be posting a new video every day in December as part of an ‘Advent’ project.

Student Concert July 2017

My twice-yearly student concert was held in July 2017.  Twenty-four of my students, aged between 4 and 13, played to an audience of over 50 family and friends.  Here are a selection of videos of my students’ performances.  More can be found over on my Facebook page.

Here’s Charlie, 12, playing Castle on a Cloud:

And Nathan, 8, playing the Theme from Star Wars:

Here’s Dan, 9, playing We are the Champions:

And Asti, 9, playing May Song and her own composition, Charley:

Student Concert – December 2016

Student Concert – December 2016

On 3rd December I held my fifth student concert – two years after the first concert.  Since then I’ve been having a lovely trip down memory lane looking back on photos and videos from the first concert and seeing how much the pupils have developed since then.  For example, here is Keiva at my first concert – at the time she was 4 and had been learning for just a few months:

And here she is two years’ later – poised and confident!

For more videos, head over to my Facebook Page:


During the month of December I am posting a different video every day as part of an ‘Advent Project’.

Finally, here is a wonderful photo of all my performers showing off their home-made, personalised biscuits!



Student Concert – June 2016

Student Concert – June 2016

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Leia, 7, and myself play ‘Brand New Day’

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Daniel, 8, plays ‘King Arthur’s Adventure’

My student concerts are becoming a twice-annual event now and I held my latest one on June 25th 2016 at St Mary with St Alban’s Church in Teddington.

Twenty-two of my students aged between 4 and 12 performed to an audience of over fifty family members and friends.  Three of the students included their own compositions in their performance.

Once again, all the students had worked really hard in preparing their pieces, and each one introduced themselves and their pieces clearly and acknowledged the audience’s applause with a bow following their playing.

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Ella, 4, plays ‘Welcome to My Home’

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Charlie, 11, plays her own composition “Chameleon”

In hosting my concerts, I hope to create enjoyable events that allow the students to share their music and enable their friends and families to see the results of their work.  In addition, the experience provides a great boost to the students’ confidence. It is particularly rewarding to see how the students grow in confidence over time as they become more experienced in performing.  Every one of my  students deserves to feel really proud of themselves!



Personalised biscuits for all the performers