Sunday, December 8, 2013

Fantasia in D Minor - CPE Bach

I really like C.P.E. Bach. He's a cool composer. His dad, J. S., is one of the most well-known keyboard composers out there, and some of his brothers were famous too, but there's something really nice about the flow of Carl Phillip Emanuel's work. He was a big influence on the next generation of composers for piano, like Haydn and Mozart.

Here's a short tune you can learn, which is great for working on stamina when playing fast. It's pretty intense-sounding, like a swirl of serious notes. It's a fun challenge for anyone Grade 4 and up to have a go at, and a good precursor to learning Solfeggietto, one of his most well-known keyboard pieces.

Fantasia in D Minor - CPE Bach

Here's a link to a harpsichord version:

Fantasia in D Minor - CPE Bach on harpsichord

Monday, December 2, 2013

What key is that?

Ready... set........... START COLOURING!!!!!

Hey, ever looked at a piece of music and looked at the key signature and wondered why on earth people wrote music like this? Like, with key signatures and stuff?!?!?!

Well..... it all does end up making sense in the end. The best way to make sense of it all is called 'the circle of fifths'. Have a look at this link, then continue reading.

There's a pattern to both major and minor scales.

1. For every key signature, there is a major key and a minor key that use it. If you look at the linked picture, you'll see every possible key signature. You'll see the major key that goes with it on the outside, and the minor key that goes with it on the inside of the circle.

2. If you start at the top of the circle and go around clockwise, one sharp is added to every new key signature you see. After a while, it gets into a world of flats and then they begin to disappear as you keep going around. All the way around the circle, the corresponding major and minor keys go up in an interval of a fifth. So, if you want to know which major key has three sharps, just move around the circle from the top and you'll find out. One day, you won't need this picture to help you out because you'll do it all in your head.

3. I would suggest printing it out and colouring in every key signature so you can kinda memorise it better. Like, you could end up thinking, "yep, A flat major and F minor - I know those - they're the aqua ones."

4. Every single key signature in western music is here. Only twelve to learn........ (yay)

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

AMEB Grade 4 List C - Bartok's Mikrokosmos

Bela Bartok's Mikrokosmos is a large set of piano pieces which range, in order, from very easy to very hard. The pieces have lots of interesting harmonies and rhythms influenced by the music of Eastern Europe.

You can read an excellent in-depth, but not-too-long article about why Bartok wrote the pieces here.

Here's links to some tunes from Mikrokosmos you can play for a Grade 4 exam:

Picture from

Monday, May 20, 2013

Vivace - J C Bach

A very, very brief, but very, very fun piece of music written by one of the many talented sons of J S Bach.

The title means 'lively', and the piece sure is!

Vivace - J C Bach


Sunday, May 12, 2013

AMEB Grade 4 List A - lots to choose from

List A in Grade 4 is an interesting one. There are studies and there are Baroque pieces (music written between approx. 1600-1750). This means there's a huge range of style to choose from. The studies are in green, and the Baroque tunes are in blue. Below are just some of the tunes you could possibly learn:

AMEB Series 15

AMEB Series 16

Other randoms you can choose from:
And one played by me :-)

Burgmuller - Harmony of the Angels Op 100 No. 21


Monday, February 25, 2013

Left hand sight reading practice


Here are some music sheets to get you more used to the challenges of left hand sight reading. This would be good for people playing Grade 5 music and above. Left hand sight reading is lots about knowing what types of chords to expect in a piece in any given key. So, work out the key signature first, work out what the names of chords 1, 4 and 5 are, and then check out what rhythms appear in the piece. Then it's time to have a go.

The first sheet has notation that looks a bit small, so maybe try a different one first.

I'll put up exercise no. 2 as soon as I can.

Left hand practice no. 1

Left hand practice no. 3

Image found on

Sunday, February 10, 2013

ANZCA Modern Grade 4 Blues - Bouncin' Blues

For a blues piece, this is pretty peppy. It uses a lot of grace notes, which is pretty common for a blues tune, but it's not in standard 12 bar blues form.

Bouncin' Blues - Shaun Jones


ANZCA Modern Grade 4 Jazz - Friday Groove

This piece actually contains some finger snaps in the music, but because I recorded this directly from digital piano to the computer, I left those out. They happen at the start and the end. If you're good at snapping with your right hand, then this piece could be for you. I'm terrible at it.

Friday Groove - Robert Keane

Image courtesy of MR LIGHTMAN /

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

ANZCA Modern Grade 5 Jazz - 52nd Street Theme

This peppy tune is a well-known example of Thelonious Monk's music. It was written in 1944, when 52nd Street, Manhattan, was the place to be to catch the coolest Jazz.

The photo in the video is also of 52nd Street, taken in 1948 by William P. Gottlieb. It shows many of the popular clubs of the time.

52nd Street Theme - Thelonious Monk

If you would like to see some icons of Jazz play and improvise on this tune, go here. It's VERY cool. There's piano, brass, drums and vibraphone featured.

AMEB Grade 4 List B - tunes from the Grade books

The music room at Royal Pavilion, Brighton, England
Here's a selection of List B pieces you can do. There are many more not included in the group below. If you would like more of a range, ask and I will dig around for more choices.
AMEB Series 15

AMEB Series 16
I have to say my highlights out of these are the ones called Gewitter, and Une Larme A Tear. But hey, that's just my taste. I would love feedback on which ones stand out to you!

Monday, February 4, 2013

ANZCA Grade 6 Blues - Blues Without Words

This is not only one of my top choices for a Grade 6 exam in the Blues genre - this is one of my favourite exam pieces ever. It's a great expressive piece, with lots of subtle mood changes. There's also a couple of leaps that are fun to play. Enjoy... and please learn it!

Blues Without Words - Denes Agay


Monday, January 7, 2013

ANZCA Grade 6 Pop and Rock Fest

Good morning, afternoon or evening. Here's a whole bunch of famous tunes you can do for your Grade 6 exam, with links to the tunes in their original form to come.