Piano Teacher Sheffield

How to learn to play the piano in genres ranging from classical, blues, jazz pop and rock to new age.


E-MUSIC MAESTRO provides online aural test training for students working towards ABRSM and Trinity graded examinations. They offer packages for grades 1 to 5 and 6 to 8 on a monthly subscription basis (with discounts if you pay for longer periods). Their sample tests are of a very high quality and students are able to assess their progress themselves. I often find that students can be quite reticent about the aural tests, particularly when I ask them to sing and therefore I do recommend that they try this website even if it’s just for one month as they can practise in private where they will not feel so inhibited. When asked to sing a melody played on the piano model sung answers are provided and it is also particularly useful for the section in which students are asked about features of a piece of music played by the examiner as model answers are again provided.

Posted 261 weeks ago

Why do you have to learn to play modes for the ABRSM Jazz Piano Graded Examinations?

If you play the notes of a C Major scale but starting on D this is known as a Dorian Mode, if you start on G then this is a Mixolydian Mode. Although they use the same notes as a C major scale they sound different because the order of tones and semitones has changed. A different mode is produced on every note of a scale making seven in total. The most common chord progression used in jazz is known as the 2 5 1 progression, these are the diatonic chords on the 2nd, 5th and 1st notes of the Major scale (known as the Supertonic, Dominant and Tonic). In the key of C Major these chords are Dm7, G7 and CMaj7 and when improvising over this chord progression the Dorian Mode is used for Dm7, the Mixolydian for G7 and the Major Scale for CMaj7. In Grade 2 students learn the corresponding modes for the key of G Major and in grade 3 for F Major and so on. As the grades progress other types of scale such as Blues and Pentatonic plus other modes such as The Lydian are also added. Jazz musicians devote a lot of time practising improvising over common chord progressions using various scales and modes. It is important to relate scales and modes to chords and chord progressions to the appropriate key eg when you see the chord progression Gm7, C7 F Maj7 think 2 5 1 in F Major, think Dorian Mode on G, Mixolydian Mode on C and F Major Scale on F Maj7.

Posted 264 weeks ago


I think that it’s important to start building a repertoire of piano pieces that you can play by memory as early as possible. I’ve often heard pianists say that they can’t play by memory but I suspect that this is because they haven’t made a conscious effort to do so. The best way to memorise a piece is to focus on small sections at a time, study the sheet music, try to picture the music in your mind and then, crucially, put the music out of sight while you play. If you find it difficult then try an even shorter section, you will probably be surprised at the progress you can make if you focus on very short sections at a time. Once you can comfortably play the first section by memory then try the second and so on until you have memorised the whole piece. When you have memorised a few pieces then I would arrange them into a set list so that you are always able to sit down and give a recital at the drop of a hat.

Posted 264 weeks ago


I strongly recommend this excellent website put together by Sheffield music teacher Stephen Wiles. The videos are primarily aimed at students taking ABRSM music theory graded examinations but would also be useful to anyone learning to play a musical instrument. All of the requirements of the ABRSM theory examinations grades 1 to 5 are covered in detail and there are some videos dealing with parts of the higher grades 6 to 8. The videos are comprehensive, clear, easy to follow and best of all, are completely free! I find the videos to be a great help in my own teaching and not only do I recommend them to all of my piano students but also to other music teachers as a supplement to their own teaching.

Posted 265 weeks ago

How to begin learning to play the piano

Initially, learning to play by rote is a great way to get started. If you have a family member, or friend who plays the piano, get them to show you how to play a simple tune by copying what they do and then repeating what you have learned until you have memorised the piece. This is essentially the way that a child learns to speak, first by copying one or two words and endlessly repeating them, then by gradually adding more and more words and eventually short phrases and sentences. Repetition is essential to learning a language and is equally important when learning to play a musical instrument. YouTube piano tutorials are a great resource for this kind of learning. Many of them have close up pictures of the pianists hands so that you can see exactly what they are doing. Some also have virtual keyboards that highlight which notes are being played and most of them play the pieces at the normal speed and then slowed down. You will make good progress if you learn small sections at a time rather than trying to learn the whole piece in one go.
It is important right from the start to get into good habits with regard to posture etc. Sit with a straight back, let your arms dangle loosely, curl your fingers as though you were getting hold of a tennis ball and rest your finger tips on the surface of the keys. Play the notes by pushing your fingers down from your knuckles, at this stage try to avoid using your wrists or arms to push the notes down. Ideally you will have lessons with a good piano teacher who will advise you on posture and technique but if this is not possible then most good piano tutorials have pictures showing you how to sit and hold your hands. Hopefully as you learn to play more tunes in this way you will start to want to learn how to learn to read music, play by ear, read lead sheets and improvise, I’ll discuss how to learn these skills in later posts.


This is a tutorial I put on YouTube to demonstrate how to harmonise a simple melody, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star with the three primary triads in the key of C Major. I started with root position chords and went on to use a dominant 7th chord, chords in first and second inversion and finally playing the left hand in an Alberti Bass style.

Posted 396 weeks ago